Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

1968-1971 Amarillo Wranglers

leave a comment

Amarillo Wranglers ProgramCentral Hockey League (1968-1969 & 1970-1971)

Born: 1968
Died: May 1969 – The Wranglers cease operations.

Arena: Amarillo Civic Center

Team Colors:


  • 1968-69: Pittsburgh Penguins / Jack McGregor
  • 1970-71: Pittsburgh Penguins


The Amarillo Wranglers were a short-lived minor league farm club of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.  The organizer of the original Wranglers and the club’s absentee President was Penguins founder Jack McGregor, a 34-year old Republican state senator from Pennsylvania.  The Wranglers played one losing season in the Central Hockey League in the winter of 1968-69, lost money, and went out of business in May 1969.

Weirdly, after one winter away, the Penguins returned to the Amarillo Civic Center (under different ownership)to give it another shot in 1970.  These Wranglers were ever worse than the prior version, finishing last (by a huge margin) in the 7-team CHL with a record of 14-47-11.  Once again, the Pens pulled up stakes after just one year, shuttering their Amarillo operation for good in May 1971 and moving their top prospects to the more sensible zip code of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

In 1975, a third edition of the Amarillo Wranglers competed in the obscure Southwestern Hockey League.  These Wranglers had no connection to the Penguins or any other NHL parent club.  As tradition demanded, this version of the Wranglers also lasted for one season and then vanished.


==Amarillo Wranglers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1970-71 1/2/1971 @ Kansas City Blues ?? Program



Central Hockey League Media Guides

Central Hockey League Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 20th, 2015 at 11:56 pm

1978-1982 Oklahoma City Stars

leave a comment

1979-80 Oklahoma City Stars ProgramCentral Hockey League (1978-1982)

Born: 1978
Died: 1982 – The Stars declare bankruptcy & cease operations.

Arena: Myriad Convention Center

Team Colors:



The Oklahoma City Stars hockey team was a minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars (1978-1981) and Calgary Flames (1981-1982) for four seasons.  The team replaced the once-popular Oklahoma City Blazers (1965-1977)  on the local hockey scene after the Blazers went dark a year earlier.  Both the Blazers and the Stars competed in the Central Hockey League (1963-1984).

Oklahoma City Stars ProgramThe best player to come out of Oklahoma City during the Stars era was undrafted free agent Dino Ciccarelli.  The 19-year old Ontario native signed with the North Stars in September 1979 after getting ignored in the NHL entry draft.  He made his pro debut in Oklahoma City late in the 1979-80 CHL season.  Ciccarelli spent most of the 1980-81 campaign in Oklahoma, scoring 32 goals in 48 games.  By springtime he was in the NHL, scoring 14 playoff goals as a key member of Minnesota’s Stanley Cup finalist squad in 1981.  Ciccarelli went on to play 19 seasons in the NHL and his 608 career goals are the most ever by an undrafted free agent player.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Class of 2010.

By the early 1980’s, the Central Hockey League was under severe financial strain, due in part to broad geographic expansion that required more and more air travel.  The Stars competed against teams as far afield as Cincinnati, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.  Late in the 1981-82 season, the Stars declared bankruptcy.  Local owner John Hail estimated the club ran a deficit of approximately $1.1 million in its final season, with local investors on the hook for $400,000 and parent club Calgary Flames footing an additional $700,000 in costs.

The Stars went of out of business in the spring of 1982.  The CHL followed two years later in May 1984.  Pro hockey returned to Oklahoma City a decade later with the formation of the Oklahoma City Blazers in a new version of the Central Hockey League in 1992.



Central Hockey League Media Guides

Central Hockey League Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 20th, 2015 at 12:40 pm

1996-2008 Austin Ice Bats

leave a comment

Austin Ice Bats vs. Waco Wizards. December 27, 1996Western Professional Hockey League (1996-2001)
Central Hockey League (2001-2008)

Born: 1996 – WPHL founding franchise.
Died: May 6, 2008 – The Ice Bats cease operations.


Team Colors:



The Austin Ice Bats were a minor league hockey team that skated for twelve seasons in Texas’ capital city.  The Ice Bats derived their name from the famed colony of 3.5 million of free-tailed bats that live under Austin’s Congress Avenue bridge.

The club was one of six original franchises in the Western Professional Hockey League in 1996. All of the league’s original franchises were in Texas and New Mexico, though expansion would eventually stretch the WPHL into Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Austin was a solid box office hit in the early years, with the Ice Bats leading the WPHL in attendance during the inaugural season of 1996-97 with 6,200 fans per game.

The Ice Bats original GM & Head Coach (and part owner) was former NHL All-Star Blaine Stoughton. Along with Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hull, Stoughton was one of only two men to have a 50-goal season in both the NHL and the rival World Hockey Association.

But the Ice Bats were never known for their on-ice accomplishments.  The level of play was several notches below the top minor hockey leagues.  Despite two finals series appearances, the team failed to win in a league title either in the WPHL or in the Central Hockey League, after a 2001 merger saw the WPHL absorbed into the larger CHL. Instead, the team established a reputation built on classic minor league hucksterism, including promotions such as “Guaranteed Fight Night”.

Arena problems eventually doomed the team. The box office novelty wore off and crowds dwindled at the Travis County Exposition Center, a remote farm show arena nicknamed “The Bat Cave” by local hockey fans. Successive generations of Ice Bats investors pushed for a new arena development in downtown Austin or in nearby Cedar Park without success. In 2006 the Ice Bats moved to Chapparal Ice Arena, a tiny 2,000-seat rink next to a lingerie shop on Interstate 35.  Crowds fell to fewer than 1,000 fans a game at Chap Ice.

Cedar Park finally approved a new $55 million arena, set to open in 2009. But instead of the Ice Bats, the Cedar Park Center would play host to the Texas Stars, the new top farm club of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. With the looming arrival of the Stars, the Ice Bats went dark in May 2008. The Ice Bats franchise continued to exist as an inactive member of the CHL for a time but nothing ever came of this and the team effectively went out of business as of the spring of 2008. The Central Hockey League folded in 2014.

The Ice Bats were the subject of the 2003 book Zamboni Rodeo by Texas Monthly writer Jason Cohen. (Cohen’s original 1997 article on the team is also in the Links section below).  Zamboni Rodeo remains available on Amazon.


==Austin Ice Bats Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other


1996-97 12/27/1996 vs. Waco Wizards ?? Program Game Notes



The Ice Bats Cometh“, Jason Cohen, Texas Monthly, February 1997
Central Hockey League Programs
Western Professional Hockey League Programs


1926-1994 Springfield Indians

leave a comment

1977-78 Springfield IndiansCanadian-American Hockey League (1926-1933 & 1935-1936)
American Hockey League (1936-1942 & 1946-1951)
Eastern Hockey League (1951-1953)
Quebec Hockey League (1953-1954)
American Hockey League (1954-1967 & 1975-1994)

Born: 1926 – Can-Am League founding franchise.
Died: 1994 – The Indians relocate to Worcester, MA.


Team Colors:

  • ????-1990: Blue, Orange & White
  • 1990-1994: Green, Blue & White

Team Owners:


“Well I wanna win it clean. Old time hockey. Like when I got started, ya know? Jesus, Toe Blake, Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore…those guys were the greats.” – Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman), Slap Shot, 1977

The Springfield Indians were one of the iconic names in all of minor league hockey.  The club operated, in various leagues, for the better part of eight decades in the Western Massachusetts city of Springfield.  The towering figure who loomed over the team for nearly fifty years was a man named Eddie Shore.

There were several iterations of the Indians. The original club played in the Canadian-American Hockey League from 1926 until a midseason collapse thirteen games into the 1933 season.







==Springfield Indians Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1959-60 12/10/1959 vs. AHL All-Stars W 8-3 Program
1959-60 2/27/1960 vs. Rochester Americans ?? Program


1974-75 4/18/1975 @ Rochester Americans L 5-2 Program


1976-77 3/9/1977 vs. Rhode Island Reds L 5-2 Program


1977-78 11/2/1977 @ Broome Dusters W 5-4 Program
1977-78 3/26/1978 @ Maine Mariners L 5-2 Program


1978-79 1/10/1979 @ Maine Mariners L 4-1 Program


1979-80 12/15/1979 vs. Nova Scotia Voyageurs ?? Program
1979-80 1/9/1980 @ Maine Mariners L 5-1 Program
1979-80 2/15/1980 @ Adirondack Red Wings W 6-2 Program


1980-81 11/14/1980 vs. Nova Scotia Voyageurs L 5-4 Program
1980-81 12/20/1980 vs. New Brunswick Hawks ?? Program
1980-81 4/1/1981  @ Hershey Bears L 6-4 Program
1980-81 4/8/1981 @ Maine Mariners L 3-1 Program


1983-84 3/27/1984 @ St. Catharines Saints L 8-5 Program


1984-85 11/9/1984 vs. Hershey Bears W 7-6 (OT) Program
1984-85 2/3/1985 @ Maine Mariners ?? Program
1984-85 2/10/1985  @ St. Catharine's Saints ?? Program


1986-87 3/19/1987 @ Fredericton Express  L 5-4 Program


1988-89 11/12/1988 vs. Utica Devils W 5-4 Program Game Notes
1988-89 3/11/1989 @ Maine Mariners ?? Program


1989-90 4/10/1990 vs. Cape Breton Oilers W 8-3 Program Game Notes


1991-92 11/9/1991 vs. Halifax Citadels ?? Program Game Notes


1993-94 4/6/1994 @ Hershey Bears L 2-1 Program



Blood & Guts: The Eddie Shore Story.



American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs


1979-1987 Indianapolis Checkers

leave a comment

Indianapolis Checkers ProgramCentral Hockey League (1979-1984)
International Hockey League (1984-1987)

Born: 1979
Died: Summer 1987


Team Colors:



The Indianapolis Checkers were the top farm club of the NHL’s New York Islanders during the Isles’ NHL dynasty era of the early 1980’s.  During the Checkers’ five years in the Central Hockey League, New York owned the club directly.  The Islanders went to the Stanley Cup finals in all five of those seasons, winning four times.  Meanwhile, the Checkers won the Adams Cup championship of the CHL in back-to-back seasons in 1982 and 1983.

In May of 1984, the Central Hockey League collapsed, leaving only the Checkers and the Salt Lake Golden Eagles able to go on.  Both clubs were accepted into the International Hockey League that summer.  As part of the transition, the Islanders sold the Checkers to former Pittsburgh Penguins owner Al Savill.  Although the Islanders still sent a few prospects, they moved their primary farm club to Springfield, Massachusetts.  The Checkers also received players from the Boston Bruins and Minnesota North Stars.

In 1985, Savill sold the team to Larry Woods.  Woods moved the Checkers out of their long-time home at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum into the massive and more expensive Market Square Arena.  The Checkers played two seasons at Market Square before shutting down due to heavy financial losses in the summer of 1987.

After one winter without hockey in 1987-88, the IHL expanded back into the Indianapolis with the formation of the Indianapolis Ice (1988-1999) the following year.


==Indianapolis Checkers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1980-81 3/20/1981 @ Wichita Wind ?? Program



Central Hockey League Media Guides

Central Hockey League Programs

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs