Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

1980 Syracuse Hornets

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Eastern Hockey League (1980)

Born: August 1980 – EHL expansion franchise.
Died: November 11, 1980 – The Hornets fold in midseason.

Arena: State Fairgrounds Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owner: Gaetan Gagne

 

The Syracuse Hornets were an ill-fated minor league hockey team that lasted just 10 games in the fall of 1980 before going out of business.  The club, owned by local contractor Gaetan Gagne, joined the Eastern Hockey League as an expansion franchise in the summer of 1980.  The Hornets replaced the departing Syracuse Firebirds (1979-1980) of the higher-level American Hockey League.  But the Hornets did not take over the Firebirds’ old lease at the Onondaga County War Memorial, the longtime home of pro hockey in Syracuse.  Instead the Hornets would play at the smaller, cheaper State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

The Hornets were unable to secure a parent club affiliation with an NHL team.  This left Head Coach and General Manager Bill Horton, a former Syracuse Blazers player, to compile an independent roster of castoffs and tryout camp wanna-bes.  Even at the relatively low level of competition in the EHL, the Hornets were desperately outclassed.  They went o-9-1 in the first ten games of the season, yielding an obscene 99 goals.

The Hornets’ financial situation was equally desperate.  The team sold fewer than 100 season tickets and crowds at the Coliseum numbered in the hundreds.  In early November, the team ran out of funds and did not appear for road games in Baltimore and Salem, Virginia.  A last ditch effort to move the Hornets to Utica fell through and the Hornets closed their doors on November 11, 1980.  The team played only 10 of 72 scheduled games and folded without ever celebrating a win.

 

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1979-1981 Richmond Rifles

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Eastern Hockey League (1979-1981)

Born: 1979 – The Cape Cod Freedoms relocate to Richmond, VA.
Died: 1981 – The Rifles cease operations.

Arena: Richmond Coliseum (9,674)

Team Colors: Blue, Red & White

Owner: Sandy Reiss

 

The Richmond Rifles were a low-level minor league hockey outfit that played for two seasons at the Richmond Coliseum between 1979 and 1981.  The team served as a farm club for both the New York Rangers (1979-1981) and Winnipeg Jets (1980-1981) of the NHL.

The Rifles franchise originated in Concord, New Hampshire in 1978 as the New Hampshire Freedoms, but team owner Sandy Reiss lasted only a month in the Granite State before hauling his club south to the Cape Cod Coliseum.  During the 1979 offseason, Reiss moved again, hoping the third time would be the charm in Richmond.

The Rifles played for the championship of the Eastern Hockey League at the end of their second season in April 1980.  They lost to the Erie Blades in four games.  Both the Rifles and the rest of the EHL would go out of business shortly thereafter.

 

==Richmond Rifles Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979-80 11/10/1979  @ Baltimore Clippers  ?? Program

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Written by andycrossley

October 4th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

1981-1993 Baltimore Skipjacks

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1983-84 Baltimore Skipjacks ProgramAtlantic Coast Hockey League (1981-1982)
American Hockey League (1982-1993)

Born: September 1981 – Baltimore Clippers re-branded as the Skipjacks.
Died: March 26, 1993 – Skipjacks announce relocation to Portland, ME.

Arena: Baltimore Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owners:

  • 1981-????: Baltimore Hockey Advocates
  • 1987-1993: Tom Ebright and Baltimore Hockey Advocates.

 

The Baltimore Skipjacks were a minor league hockey club that served as a farm team to the Boston Bruins (1982-1983), Pittsburgh Penguins (1982-1987) and Washington Capitals (1988-1993).  Prior to the Skipjacks, Baltimore had a long and checkered history with pro hockey.  Going back to the World War II era, all of Baltimore’s various minor league clubs were named the “Clippers”.

The Skipjacks’ finest seasons came during the mid-1980’s when they served as a Penguins’ farm club and were coached by Gene Ubriaco.  In 1983-84, the Skipjacks had the best regular season record in the American Hockey League (46-24-10), thanks in part to Pittsburgh’s conscious effort to tank the NHL season and win the right to select Mario Lemieux in the 1984 NHL draft.  At one point, the 1983-84 Skipjacks set an AHL record by winning 16 games in a row, but they were bounced in the Calder Cup semis by the Rochester Americans.

Baltimore Skipjacks ProgramThe following season, Ubriaco’s charges went further, advancing to the 1985 Calder Cup finals.  The Skipjacks’ captain that season was Steve Carlson, a minor league warhorse who played one of the Hanson Brothers in Slap Shot.  The 1984-85 team also included notorious tough guys Marty McSorley and Bennett Wolf.  Rookie goaltender Jon Casey, on loan from the Minnesota North Stars, was outstanding with a 30-11-4 mark and a 2.63 GAA.   But in the Calder Cup finals, Baltimore ran into the Sherbooke Canadiens and a young Montreal goaltending prospect named Patrick Roy.  Sherbrooke beat the Skipjacks 4 games to 2 behind Roy’s heroics in net.

During their 12-year run in Baltimore, the Skipjacks played second fiddle to the Baltimore Blast indoor soccer team, the ‘Jacks winter co-tenant at the Civic Center.  The Blast, whose original 1980-1992 run coincided closely with the Skipjacks’ lifespan, consistently outdrew the hockey team on a magnitude of about 3:1.

That meant that the Skipjacks consistently lost six figures a year.  After the 1986-87 season the Pittsburgh Penguins, who funded most of the club’s expenses, lost patience and shifted their top farm club relationship to Muskegon of the IHL.  Businessman Tom Ebright saved the team, buying the club for $250,000 and operating as an independent (without NHL affiliation) for the 1987-88 season.

Starting in 1988, the Skipjacks became the top farm club for the nearby Washington Capitals of the NHL.  With the switch, the Skipjacks dropped their black & yellow palate of the Penguins era in favor of a red, white & blue color scheme.  The Capitals era wasn’t particularly fruitful for Baltimore hockey fans, but the ‘Jacks did help to produce two future NHL goaltending stars for Washington in Byron Dafoe and Olaf Kolzig.

Owner Tom Ebright lost an estimated $2.5 million on the Skipjacks over six years from 1987 to 1993.  In March of 1993 he threw in the towel and signed a deal to move the Skipjacks to Portland, Maine.  The Skipjacks became the Portland Pirates for the 1993-94 AHL season and continue to play under that identity today.

 

==Baltimore Skipjacks Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1982-83 1/11/1983 @ Fredericton Express L 4-2 Program
1984-85 10/12/1984 vs. Hershey Bears L 7-4 Program Game Notes
1984-85 1/25/1985 vs. St. Catharines Saints W 3-2 Program Game Notes
1988-89 10/7/1988 @ New Haven Nighthawks  L 5-3 Program
1990-91 9/29/1990 vs. Hershey Bears (exh.) W 7-6 Program
1991-92 12/26/1991 vs. Hershey Bears T 4-4 Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Skipjacks owner Tom Ebright passed away in 1997.

 

==Links==

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

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1994-1996 Minnesota Moose

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1995-96 Minnesota MooseInternational Hockey League (1994-1996)

Born: December 16, 1993 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1996 – The Moose relocate to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Dark Purple, Forest Green & Black

Owners: Kevin MacLean & Roger Sturgeon

 

The Minnesota Moose were a high-caliber minor league hockey team that played two seasons in the Twin Cities shortly after the departure of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars for Dallas in 1993.  The Moose played out of the Saint Paul Civic Center, but also played 14 dates at the Target Center in Minneapolis during their second and final season.

The Moose’ debut game in St. Paul on October 7, 1994 – a 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals – attracted 11,652 fans.  Attendance dropped off quickly and the Moose finished the year ranked 12th in the 17-team International Hockey League with average crowds of 6,787 – a somewhat disconcerting result for an expansion team in what should have been its honeymoon phase.  On the plus side, the team’s fun, eye-catching logo was a big hit.  The Hockey News named the Minnesota Moose logo as the best in all of minor league hockey in February 1995 and the team would later claim an eye-popping $1.3 million in souvenir sales during their inaugural season.

Minnesota Moose IHLOn the ice, the Moose squeaked into the 1995 Turner Cup playoffs with  34-35-12 record.  They were swiftly dispatched by the eventual champion Denver Grizzlies in a three-game sweep in the first round.  Center Stephane Morin led the IHL in scoring with 38 goals and 71 assists.  The team’s big name was Minnesota native Dave Christian, a 14-year NHL veteran and member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey “Miracle On Ice” squad.  Christian finished second on the team in scoring with a 38-42-80 line.

In 1995 the City of St. Paul launched a courtship to persuade the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to relocate to Minnesota.  The prospect of the NHL returning to the Twin Cities further eroded interest in the Moose.  Ultimately the Jets moved to Arizona instead, but the experience seemed to sap the enthusiasm of Moose ownership.  A few days after the Jets’ move to Phoenix was revealed in December 1995, the Moose announced a sale and relocation of their own – to Winnipeg, of all places, to replace the Jets at Winnipeg Arena.

The Moose played out their second and final season in Minnesota as lame ducks.  They missed the playoffs with a 30-45-7 record.

The franchise flourished in Winnipeg, lasting 15 seasons at the Manitoba Moose.  The team was displaced by the NHL (and the Jets!) once again in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become a revival of the Winnipeg Jets.  The hockey franchise that started out as the Minnesota Moose in 1995 to Newfoundland and plays on today as the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

 

==Minnesota Moose Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1995-96 10/5/1995  @ Los Angeles Ice Dogs ?? Program

 

==Downloads==

1995 Minnesota Moose Postseason Review & Media Guide

 

==Links==

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

September 16th, 2014 at 3:10 am

1979-1981 Baltimore Clippers

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Baltimore ClippersEastern Hockey League (1979-1981)

Born: September 12, 1979 – EHL expansion franchise.
Died: September 1981 – Re-branded as the Baltimore Skipjacks.

Arena: Baltimore Civic Center (11,000)

Team Colors: Green, White & Yellow

Owners: Baltimore Hockey Advocates (James Watson, et. al) & Minnesota North Stars

 

The Baltimore Clippers name was a proud one in minor league hockey, used by several clubs operating in various different leagues from 1944 until 1977.  The longest tenured and most successful of these teams were the Clippers of the American Hockey League (1962-1975).  But the Clips fell on hard times in the mid-1970’s, shifting leagues and folding several times amidst the market upheaval caused by the NHL-WHA competition and the overall hard times for the  minor league hockey business in the 1970’s.

This 1979 incarnation – dubbed “The New Baltimore Clippers” on the program above right – was the final attempt to restore the Clippers name.  The Eastern Hockey League franchise was owned jointly by the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL and a group of 19 local investors and hockey boosters known as Baltimore Hockey Advocates.  The club served as a farm club for the North Stars and took their green, white & yellow color scheme from the parent club.

The Clippers’ top scorer during the 1979-80 season was Warren Young (53 goals, 53 assists).  Young later went on to have a 40-goal season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL in 1984-85.  Clippers Head Coach and General Manager Gene Ubriaco went on to coach the Penguins in the late 1980’s.

The Eastern Hockey League folded in July 1981.  Baltimore Hockey Advocates decided to keep the club going in the new Atlantic Coast Hockey League, but dropped the historic Clippers name in favor of a new identity: the Baltimore Skipjacks.

==Baltimore Clippers Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979-80 11/10/1979  vs. Richmond Rifles  ?? Program

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Written by andycrossley

September 9th, 2014 at 1:32 am