Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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October 28, 1964 – Portland Buckaroos vs. Vancouver Canucks

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Portland Buckaroos vs. Vancouver Canucks
October 28, 1964
Memorial Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Western Hockey League Programs


That’s the late Canadian lacrosse superstar Jack Bionda on the cover of this 1964 Western Hockey League program, pictured as a member of the Portland Buckaroos.  Bionda played parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins from 1955 to 1959 and was a popular fixture on Portland’s Western League teams of the 1960’s up until his retirement in 1967.

But if Bionda was merely a talented ice hockey player, his reputation in Canadian lacrosse was Bunyan-esque.  Throughout the 1950’s, he was considered Canada’s greatest lacrosse player despite periodic absences to play hockey.  He played variously for the Kerrisdale Kerries, Victoria Shamrocks, New Westminster Salmonbellies and Nanaimo Tribesmen in senior amateur lacrosse.  So dominant was Bionda that every time he changed teams, his new team won the Mann Cup championship of Canada.

On this night, his Portland Buckaroos struck for five 1st period goals against Vancouver Canucks goalie Gilles Boisvert and then held on for a 5-4 victory before the home crowd at Memorial Coliseum.  Appearing on the program cover turned out to be a bad omen for Jack Bionda though.  He ripped his knee ligaments in the game and would miss nearly all of the 1964-65 season.


January 3, 1974 – San Diego Gulls vs. USSR


San Diego Gulls vs. USSR National Hockey Team
January 3, 1974
San Diego Sports Arena
Attendance: 13,431

Western Hockey League Programs
40 pages


In December 1973 and January of 1974 the Soviet National Ice Hockey Team conducted a four-city tour of the Western Hockey League.  It may have been just a minor league tour, but the Soviets brought all of their top guns – one of the most remarkable international teams ever assembled.  The Soviet roster on this night included:

  • Four of the five all-time top scorers in the history of Soviet hockey (Valeri Kharlamov, Aleksandr Maltsev, Boris Mikhailov and Vladimir Petrov)
  • Two of the six players later named to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Team of the Century (Kharlamov and legendary netminder Vladislav Tretiak).

The Soviets rolled into Southern California to play the San Diego Gulls after making quick work of the WHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners (3-1) and Portland Buckaroos (8-3) in the first two games of the series.  A standing room only crowd of 13,431 packed the San Diego Sports Arena on a Thursday evening to get a look at the mighty Soviets.

Yuri Lebedev, a 22-year old forward who would later play against the U.S. “Miracle on Ice” team at the 1980 Olympics, was the star for the Soviets on this night.  He scored a hat trick and added two assists as the USSR drubbed the Gulls 11-3.

Kerry Bond, Bernie Gagnon and Jim Shires scored for the Gulls, who would go out of business along with the rest of the Western Hockey League a few months later in the spring of 1974.



January 3, 1974 San Diego Gulls Roster vs. USSR

January 3, 1974 USSR National Hockey Team Roster vs. San Diego Gulls



Written by AC

March 19th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

March 3, 1966 – Seattle Totems vs. Rochester Americans

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1965-66 Seattle TotemsSeattle Totems vs. Rochester Americans
March 3, 1966
Seattle Center Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Western Hockey League Programs
American Hockey League Programs
34 pages


This eye-catching hockey program comes from a rare inter-league game between two of the significant minor leagues of the 1960’s.  The Western Hockey League (1952-1974) and the American Hockey League (1938-Present) played a limited inter-league schedule during the winter of 1965-66 and again in the 1967-68 season.

On this particular night the Seattle Totems (1958-1975) hosted the Rochester Americans at the Seattle Center Coliseum.  The Americans had a great roster this season, including 35-year old Hungarian center Bronco Horvath, who once tied for the NHL lead in goal scoring with the Boston Bruins back in 1960.  21-year old Mike Walton won AHL Rookie-of-the-Year honors with Rochester in 1966.  He would later enjoy a long career in the NHL before jumping to the World Hockey Association, where he was one of the upstart league’s top scoring threats.

On defense, the Americans had two veterans who would go onto great careers as coaches in the NHL.  Don Cherry took the Boston Bruins to two Stanley Cup finals in the 1970’s, but is best known today as a broadcaster.  Al Arbour won four Stanley Cups as Head Coach of the New York Islanders and entered the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Rochester would go on to win the 1966 Calder Cup as champions of the American League this season, while the Totems finished out of the playoff hunt under Head Coach Bobby Kromm.  But on this night, the Totems got the better of the inter-league meeting, beating the Americans 8-5 in a shootout.

Written by AC

December 29th, 2012 at 9:15 pm


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