Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Indoor Soccer’ Category

December 3, 1985 – Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers

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Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers. December 3, 1985Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers
December 3, 1985
Kansas Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs


The early/mid 1980′s clashes between the Wichita Wings and the St. Louis Steamers made for one of the best rivalries during the golden era of indoor soccer.  Both teams were popular and drew large crowds at the time, which fueled the competition.

I chose to post this game because 1.) someone posted a great-looking 46-minute edit of the St. Louis local broadcast on YouTube and 2.) we had the game program here in the archives, courtesy of Wings historian and occasional FWiL contributor Michael Romalis.  That’s the late Slobo Ilijevski of the Steamers on the cover (above right), one of the all-time greats of the indoor game.

Oh yeah – this game also featured one of the greatest goals in MISL history.  A ludicrous, ill-conceived length-of-the-floor sprint by Wichita goalkeeper Jan Olesen.  The seldom-used Dane, who would play only 16 games in the Major Indoor Soccer League, beat three St. Louis defenders and nutmegged Slobo to open the scoring in the 2nd quarter and send the Kansas Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.   There’s a separate highlight clip of Olesen’s rampage in the video section below.

The Wings held on for a 4-3 victory.



Jan Olesen’s end-to-end golazo…


St. Louis Steamers local broadcast.  46-minute edit:



Written by andycrossley

July 5th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

1992-2001 Buffalo Blizzard

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Buffalo BlizzardNational Professional Soccer League (1992-2001)

Born: 1992 – NPSL expansion franchise.
Died: August 15, 2001 – The Blizzard cease operations.


Team Colors:



The Buffalo Blizzard were a long-running indoor soccer franchise that enjoyed a degree of popularity in Western New York during the early 1990′s.  The team started in 1992 with a strong managerial pedigree.  The original owners included brothers Seymour & Northrup Knox, then owners of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, as well as Bob and Melinda Rich, the owners of the city’s wildly popular minor league baseball club, the Buffalo Bisons.

The Knox/Rich soccer group became the subject of a heated competition between America’s two indoor leagues, the Major Indoor Soccer League and the National Professional Soccer League.  The MISL was older, played in bigger cities and had better talent.  Buffalo also had a previous history with the MISL – the city’s previous indoor club, the Buffalo Stallions, played in the league from 1979 to 1983.  But by the early 1990′s the MISL was frail, shrinking and wracked by labor unrest.  The upstart NPSL, formed in 1984, was expanding into a nationwide air travel league after spending much of the 1980′s as a Midwestern bus circuit.  The Blizzard ultimately chose to join the NPSL, a decision that hastened the demise of the 14-year old MISL in July of 1992.

Buffalo BlizzardThe Blizzard’s finest season came during the expansion year of 1992-93.  The team posted an all-time best mark of 23-17 under Head Coach Trevor Dawkins, but lost in the quarterfinals of the NPSL playoffs to the Cleveland Crunch.  Just about every Blizzard season to follow more or less followed the same plot.   The team had only two losing seasons in nine years, but never won a playoff series.  The Crunch eliminated them in the first round four consecutive years from 1993 to 1996.

Key players for the Blizz included local brothers Randy Pikuzinski and Rudy Pikuzinski.  Randy was the only Blizzard player to play all nine seasons for the club.  Rudy played eight years, missing only the club’s final season in the winter of 2000-01.   U.S. National Team goalkeeper and captain Tony Meola, one of the best known soccer players in the country at the time, appeared in a dozen games for the Blizzard during the 1994-95 season.  But Meola would leave the team before the playoffs after getting cast in an off-Broadway play.

The Blizzard played at The Aud for their first four seasons until that building closed in 1996.  Then they moved into the brand new Marine Midland Arena in 1996.  The move into the new arena coincided with a sale of the team in August 1996.  Team President John Bellanti, a long-time local soccer booster who also served as a top exec for the MISL’s Stallions in the early 80′s, purchased the club from the Knox family.

Bellanti kept the Stallions going for another five seasons.  But interest in the team waned as the population of Buffalo shrank and the sport of indoor soccer ceded ground to a resurgence of the outdoor game nationwide.  The city’s crowded sports landscape was another challenge, as the Blizzard faced competition from both the Sabres and the Buffalo Bandits box lacrosse team for ticket sales and sponsorships.

The National Professional Soccer League re-organized and re-branded itself in the summer of 2001, adopting the now-nostalgic “Major Indoor Soccer League” name.  During this time, Bellanti acknowledged that the team had lost money for nine straight years and decided to fold the club in August 2001.


==Buffalo Blizzard Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1992-93 1/22/1993 @ Cleveland Crunch W 19-18 Program
1993-94 3/26/1994 vs. Detroit Rockers W 12-8 Program


==In Memoriam==

Blizzard co-founder Seymour Knox passed away after a bout with cancer on May 22, 1996 at age 70.

Carlos Salguero, a former Buffalo Stallions player who served as Head Coach of the Blizzard during the 1997-98 season, died on cancer in December 2006 at the age of 51.

Paul Kitson, the Blizzard’s final Head Coach from 1999-2001, died of a heart attack on August 25, 2005 at age 49.



National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs


April 29, 1974 – Rhode Island Oceaneers vs. Connecticut Wildcats

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Rhode Island Oceaneers SoccerRhode Island Oceaneers vs. Connecticut Wildcats
April 29, 1974
Providence Civic Center
Attendance: ?

American Soccer League Programs
8 pages


Here we have perhaps my favorite minor league soccer logo of all-time: the Poseidon-inspired mark of the short-lived Rhode Island Oceaneers (1974-1976) of the old American Soccer League (1933-1983).

The Oceaneers typically played their matches at Pierce Memorial Stadium in East Providence.  But this is actually a program from a very early indoor soccer exhibition at the Providence Civic Center between the Oceaneers and the ASL’s Connecticut Wildcats.  Indoor soccer was not yet a professional sport in its own right in 1974 – the first indoor league wouldn’t arrive until 1978.  The more prominent North American Soccer League (1968-1984) was beginning to experiment with the indoor game in a few cities such as Philadelphia and San Jose around this time, but it was very unusual for a 2nd division club to play an indoor match.



Written by andycrossley

June 14th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

1986-1989 Fort Wayne Flames

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Fort Wayne FlamesAmerican Indoor Soccer Association (1986-1989)

Born: 1986 – AISA expansion franchise.
Died: 1989 – The Flames cease operations.

Arena: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum

Team Colors:



The Fort Wayne Flames were a pro indoor soccer outfit that played three seasons in the American Indoor Soccer Association in the late 1980′s.  The AISA started out as a Midwestern regional bus league in 1984, playing a distinct second fiddle to the big budget Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL).  The Flames entered the league as the organization was getting slightly more ambitious, expanding south into Jacksonville, Memphis and Tampa Bay.

Fort Wayne FlamesThe Flames did manage to attract some top indoor players as they were winding down their careers in the lower leagues.  Argentinean forward Ricardo Alonso, a former All-Star in the outdoor North American Soccer League, played for the Flames in the 1988-89 season.  Angelo DiBernardo, a former member of the New York Cosmos who played at Indiana University (1976-1978), coached the team for the 1987-88 season.  The following year Dave MacKenzie replaced DiBernardo as a player-coach.  MacKenzie was the all-time games played leader in the MISL at the time.  MacKenzie’s season in Fort Wayne would be his last as a player.

The Flames finest hour came at the end of the 1988 season.  Instead of a traditional playoff format, the AISA experimented with something called the Challenge Cup – a sort of season within the season to determine the league champion.  (The Challenge Cup even included a team – the Jacksonville Generals - that hadn’t taken part in the regular season).  The Flames were ordinary in the regular season, with a 9-15 record under DiBernardo’s direction.  But they got hot in the Challenge Cup, advancing to host the championship game against the Canton Invaders at the Allen County War Memorial.  The Flames lost the title game 5-4

The Fort Wayne Flames folded at the end of their third season in the spring of 1989.  Shortly afterwards, the AISA awarded a new expansion franchise to replace the Flames in Fort Wayne.  Dubbed the Indiana Kick, the new club only lasted one season before going out as business as well.


==Fort Wayne Flames Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1986-87 11/15/1986 @ Memphis Storm ?? Program
1986-87 12/19/1986 @ Canton Invaders ?? Video
1986-87 1/17/1987 vs. Memphis Storm ?? Program
1986-87 1/27/1987 @ Canton Invaders ?? Video
1986-87 2/14/1987 @ Canton Invaders ?? Video
1987-88 4/1/1988 vs. Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 11/19/1988 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 12/16/1988 vs. Milwaukee Wave ?? Program
1988-89 1/28/1989 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program



The Flames play the Canton Invaders on the road in Ohio.  Valentine’s Day 1987.




National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs




1994 Carolina Vipers

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Carolina Vipers LogoContinental Indoor Soccer League (1994)

Born: 1993 - CISL founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1994 – The Vipers cease operations.

Arena: Independence Arena (9,475)

Team Colors: Blue, Yellow & Red

Owners: Felix Sabates & Carl Scheer


The Carolina Vipers soccer team was a founding member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League (1993-1997) but didn’t begin play until the league’s second season in the summer of 1994.

More than 50% of the CISL’s original franchise owners were investors in NBA or NHL franchises.  Vipers majority Felix Sabates was an original investor in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and co-owner Carl Scheer was a long-time ABA and NBA exec and the former President of the Hornets.  NASCAR legends Richard & Kyle Petty were also limited partners in the group.

The Sabates-Scheer group also owned the popular Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team, which debuted nine months before the Vipers in the fall of 1993.  Like the Checkers, the Vipers played in the 9,500 Independence Arena in Charlotte.  After several ownership changes – including a second term for Sabates in the early 2000′s, - the Checkers continue to play in Charlotte today.

The Carolina Vipers, by contrast, were a major misfire in the summer of 1994.  Under Head Coach David Irving, Carolina was one of the worst clubs in the history of the CISL with a 3-25 record.  Fans stayed away in droves.  The Vipers ranked 12th out of 14 clubs with announced attendance of 3,034 per game.   The club quietly folded after the 1994 season ended that September.   The CISL folded three years later in December 1997.



1994 Carolina Vipers $100K sponsorship proposal for Nabisco

Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs