Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘IHL’ tag

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==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
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

1962-1981 Port Huron Flags & Port Huron Wings

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Port Huron FlagsInternational Hockey League (1962-1981)

Born: 1962 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1981 – The Flags cease operations.

Arena: McMorran Arena (3,582)

Team Colors: Red & White

Owners:

 

The Port Huron Flags were a long-standing minor league hockey outfit in the small northern Michigan border city of Port Huron (pop. 30,000).  From the 1971 through 1974, a period that saw Port Huron affiliated with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, the team was briefly known as the “Port Huron Wings“.

The Flags/Wings played in the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup championship series seven times in 19 seasons, winning the crown in 1966, 1971 and 1972.

The Flags folded after the 1980-81 season.

 

==Port Huron Flags Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
11/16/1963 @ Fort Wayne Komets ?? Program
1/27/1979 @ Toledo Goaldiggers ?? Program
4/13/1979 vs. Flint Generals  ?? Program

 

==Links==

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

June 17th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

1996-1998 San Antonio Dragons

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San Antonio DragonsInternational Hockey League (1996-1998)

Born: 1996 – The Peoria Rivermen relocate to San Antonio, TX.
Died: 1998 – The Dragons cease operations.

Arena: Freeman Coliseum (9,965)

Team Colors:

Owners: Bruce Saurs & Donald Levin

 

The San Antonio Dragons were part of a short, strange minor league hockey cold war in South Texas during the mid-1990’s.

The Dragons’ ancestry stretched back to 1982 when the franchise was formed as a Peoria, Illinois expansion entry in the International Hockey League (1945-2001).  At the time, the IHL was an upper Midwestern bus league.  But in the early 1990’s the IHL got ambitious, expanding into major league cities across the continent and recruiting major investors such as NBA owners Larry Miller and Bill Davidson.  The moves put financial pressure on the IHL’s remaining small-market teams like Peoria.  In 1996, long-time Peoria owner Bruce Saurs announced that he would move his club to San Antonio, Texas.

It was an odd choice.  Hardly an ice hockey hotbed, San Antonio already had an established minor league team – the Iguanas of the Central Hockey League – at Freeman Coliseum, where Saurs and his business partner Donald Levin wanted to play.  In the winter of 1996-97 both teams split dates in the building and fought over the arena lease.   The big budget Dragons drove the Iguanas out of business after one season of competition, but it wasn’t a triumph.   The San Antonio Dragons lost millions of dollars their first winter and ranked only 16th among 18 IHL clubs in attendance, with announced gate of 4,931 per game.

On the positive side, the 1996-97 Dragons won the IHL’s Midwest Division with a 45-30-7 record under Head Coach Jeff Brubaker.  The Dragons advanced to the 2nd round of the Turner Cup playoffs before losing to the Houston Aeros.  29-year old Daniel Shank led the club in scoring with 33 goals and 58 assists, both team highs.

In 1997-98, the Dragons had Freeman Coliseum and the city of San Antonio to themselves with the Iguanas out of business.  But the season was a disaster.  The team went from first to worst, finishing in the league cellar at 25-49-8.  Attendance crashed further to 3,668 per game.  By the end of the season, the club’s two-year losses in San Antonio ran to a reported $7 million.

Bruce Saurs & Donald Levin dropped out of the IHL at the end of the 1997-98 season and unloaded the remains of the franchise to Horn Chen, lead investor of the vanquished Iguanas. Chen ditched the Dragons brand name, reclaimed the old Iguanas identity and entered the former Dragons franchise in the lower-budget Central Hockey League, which he largely controlled.  The Peoria Rivermen/Dragons/Iguanas franchise eventually went out of business in 2002.

 

==Links==

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

May 9th, 2014 at 3:57 am

1994-2013 Houston Aeros

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International Hockey League (1994-2001)
American Hockey League (2001-2013)

Born: 1994 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: April 18, 2013 – The Aeros announce they will move to Des Moines, IA.

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Houston Aeros were formed as an International Hockey League expansion team in 1994 by Chuck Watson, CEO of Houston energy trading firm Dynegy.  The Aeros were a brand revival of the popular World Hockey Association club of the 1970’s, who famously featured ageless Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe and his sons Mark and Marty.

The modern day Aeros played their early seasons in the IHL, and ambitious but unsustainable minor league that featured big budgets, cross-continental air travel and occasional cross-border raids to sign NHL stars to short-term deals during contract holdouts.  The Aeros were a box office hit upon their arrival in the mid-1990’s, averaging over 10,000 fans per game at the old Houston Summit during their first two seasons.  Attendance declined year-over-year for all seven seasons that the Aeros played in the IHL, but those who stuck around were rewarded with an outstanding team and perennial title contender.  From 1997 to 2005, the Aeros made the playoffs for nine straight seasons.

The Aeros won their first and only Turner Cup championship of the IHL in the spring of 1999.  After posting a league-best record of 54-15-13 in the regular season, the Aeros outlasted the Orlando Solar Bears 4 games to 3 in the best-of-seven Turner Cup finals. Brian Wiseman led the IHL in scoring that season (109 pts.) and was named MVP of the league.

The IHL collapsed under its own weight and went out of business in May of 2001.  The Aeros were one of six IHL survivors that were admitted to the American Hockey League for the 2001-2002 season.  At the same time that the Aeros entered the AHL, they signed an affiliation deal to become the top farm club of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.  In 2003, stocked with Wild prospects, the Aeros defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs to capture the AHL’s Calder Cup championship.

Even more so than the transition from IHL to the AHL in 2001, the summer of 2003 following the Aeros’ Calder Cup victory brought massive change to the Aeros franchise.  The old Summit/Compaq Center finally shut down after years of political wrangling.  The Aeros and the NBA’s Houston Rockets would both move into the brand new $235 million Toyota Center in the autumn of 2003.  Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that team founder Chuck Watson decided to sell the Aeros to Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the NHL’s Wild, at this time.

During the late 1990’s Watson controlled the Compaq Center and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was his tenant.  Alexander pushed for a new downtown arena and pushed to break his lease at Watson’s building, which ran through 2003.  Watson refused to release the Rockets from their lease and led political opposition to the new arena project, helping to deal a shocking referendum defeat to the project in late 1999.  (Watson and Alexander’s arena feud also played a role in sinking Houston’s NHL expansion bid in the late 1990’s.)  But after the NBA threatened Houston with the loss of pro basketball if a new arena was not in the city’s plans, the project got back on track.  The Toyota Center would open in 2003 and this time the roles would be reversed: Alexander would control the building and Watson would be the tenant.  Watson sold out to the Wild two months before the Toyota Center opened, retaining only a small minority stake in the Aeros.

The Aeros made one more championship run in the spring of 2011, advancing to the Calder Cup finals before losing there to the Binghamton Senators.

At the end of the 2012-13 season the Aeros 10-year lease expired at Toyota Center.  Although the team remained one of the stronger box office draws in the AHL (6,793 per game, good for 7th among the AHL’s 30 clubs), Minnesota Sports & Entertainment could not come to terms on a new lease with Toyota Center.  On April 18, 2013, the Wild announced that the Aeros would relocate to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa for the 2013-14 season and be known henceforth as the Iowa Wild.  A few weeks later, the Aeros were eliminated by the Grand Rapids Griffins (another IHL refugee) in the Calder Cup Playoffs, bringing the Aeros era to an end after 19 seasons.

 

==YouTube==

The Aeros’ IHL debut on October 7, 1994 goes to a shootout against the Atlanta Knights at a sold-out Summit.

The Aeros defeat the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 7 to win the 2003 Calder Cup.

 

==Links==

The 3rd Intermission – Andrew Ferraro’s Aeros Blog 

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 25th, 2014 at 2:13 pm

1982-1984 Peoria Prancers

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International  Hockey League (1982-1984)

Born: 1982 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: Summer 1984 – Re-branded as Peoria Rivermen.

Arena: Peoria Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Ken Wilson

 

The Peoria Prancers were a short-lived farm club of the New York Rangers notable mainly for having perhaps the least intimidating name in the history of pro hockey.  The club was owned by a long-time itinerant minor league hockey executive Ken Wilson.  Wilson ran out of money in 1984 after two losing seasons and handed the keys to the franchise back to the International Hockey League.  The money-losing Peoria Civic Center, faced with the loss of 40 booked dates at the building in the winter of 1984-85, agreed to buy the team, but quickly changed the name to the infinitely manlier Peoria Rivermen prior to the 1984-85 IHL season.

 

==Links==

International Hockey League Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 24th, 2014 at 2:56 am