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1973-1980 Broome Dusters

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Broome DustersNorth American Hockey League (1973-1977)
American Hockey League (1977-1980)

Born: 1973 – NAHL founding franchise.
Died: May 1980 – The Dusters re-brand as the Binghamton Whalers.

Arena: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (4,855)

Team Colors:

Owner: Jim Matthews


The Broome Dusters, AKA the Binghamton Dusters, were a hugely popular minor league hockey team during the mid-1970’s in Broome County, New York.  Bobby Orr’s brother, Ron Orr, was the Dusters’ General Manager and Binghamton resident Johnny Hart, who penned the syndicated comic strips B.C. and The Wizard of Id, designed the Dusters’ logo of a caveman with a hockey stick.

The Dusters were founding members of the North American Hockey League in 1973.  The rough-and-tumble NAHL became the inspiration for the 1977 Paul Newman comedy Slap Shot and its member teams served as farm clubs to the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s rival to the National Hockey League.  The Dusters had affiliation deals with both the San Diego Mariners of the WHA and the Boston Bruins of the NHL.

The Dusters were the best gate attraction in the NAHL, regularly selling out the 4,900-seat Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.  Unfortunately, the rest of the NAHL wasn’t so strong and the circuit folded in September 1977, leaving the Dusters without a league to play in just weeks before their fifth season was due to begin.  At the time, the Dusters boasted more than 4,000 season ticket holders, accounting for more than 80% of the capacity of Binghamton’s small arena.

In late September 1977, Dusters owner Jim Matthews partnered with Andre Veilleux, former owner of the NAHL’s Beauce Jaros, to purchase the American Hockey League’s money-losing Providence Reds franchise and move it to Binghamton.  The 51-year old Reds franchise was the oldest continuously operating minor league hockey team in America in 1977, but had fallen on hard times during the mid-1970’s.  The sale was approved, the (new) Dusters were hurriedly admitted to the AHL just days before the 1977-78 season began, and hockey survived in Binghamton.  As part of the transaction, the Dusters became of farm team of the NHL’s doormat Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Dusters era came to an end in May 1980 when the Hartford Whalers of the NHL purchased the club and re-branded it as the Binghamton Whalers (1980-1990).


==Broome Dusters Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1975-76 10/29/1975 vs. Syracuse Blazers W 4-2 Program
1975-76 1/11/1976 vs. Cape Codders ?? Program
1975-76 1/18/1976 vs. Mohawk Valley Comets ?? Program
1975-76 1/21/1976 vs. Johnstown Jets ?? Program
1975-76 1/27/1976 vs. Syracuse Blazers W 6-2 Program
1975-76 2/2/1976 vs. Philadelphia Firebirds W 5-4 Program
1975-76 2/25/1976 vs. Erie Blades ?? Program
1975-76 3/10/1976 vs. Philadelphia Firebirds W 6-4 Program


1976-77 1/19/1977 vs. Johnstown Jets W 6-2 Program


1977-78 10/15/1977 @ Maine Mariners L 6-3 Program
1977-78 11/2/1977 vs. Springfield Indians L 5-4 Program


1978-79 11/17/1978 @ Philadelphia Firebirds W 8-2 Program


1979-80 11/11/1979 vs. Hershey Bears L 6-3 Program
1979-80 11/17/1979 vs. Syracuse Firebirds W 7-4 Program


==In Memoriam==

Dusters owner Jim Matthews passed away on July 15, 2011 at age 77.



North American Hockey League Media Guides

North American Hockey League Programs

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs



Written by andycrossley

November 21st, 2013 at 3:05 am

1974-1979 Philadelphia Firebirds

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North American Hockey League (1974-1977)
American Hockey League (1977-1979)

Born: 1974 – NAHL expansion franchise.
April 11, 1979 – The Firebirds relocate to Syracuse, NY.

Arena: Philadelphia Civic Center (8,300)

Team Colors:



The Philadelphia Firebirds minor league hockey team was owned by Mrs. Paul’s frozen foods magnate Edward Piszek and his son George.  During the team’s first season in the winter of 1974-75, Philadelphia Phillies Hall-of-Fame pitcher Robin Roberts was a co-owner, but he left the team after the Firebirds lost $400,000 their first winter.

Philadelphia was hockey mad.  The NHL’s Flyers won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975.  The Firebirds enjoyed some of the overflow enthusiasm, playing their games at the old Philadelphia Civic Center.  The Firebirds added a championship of their own, winning the North American Hockey League’s Lockhart Cup in 1976 (see team highlight film in the YouTube section below).

Weeks before the 1977-78 was due to begin the NAHL went out of business.  The Firebirds scrambled to join the American Hockey League, which was also struggling to stay alive at the time and willing to accept both the Firebirds and the NAHL’s Broome (NY) Dusters on the eve of their season.  The Firebirds played two AHL seasons in Philadelphia, but continued to lose money.  An affiliation with the NHL’s lowly Colorado Rockies in 1978-79 left the team with weak players and contributed to declining fan interest.  In April 1979, the Firebirds relocated to Syracuse, New York, where they played one final season under the Piszek family ownership before folding in the spring of 1980.

The Firebirds player who went on to the greatest success was goaltender Rejean “Reggie” Lemelin.  Lemelin joined the Firebirds as a rookie out of junior hockey in 1974 and played for the team during all five of its seasons in Philadelphia.  He made his NHL debut in the 1978-79 season and went on to a 15-year career with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames and the Boston Bruins.

1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team hero Mike Eruzione played six games for the Firebirds during their final season in Philly.


==Firebirds Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1974-75 10/18/1974 vs. Syracuse Blazers T 3-3 Program
1974-75 11/10/1974 vs. Cape Cod Cubs W 5-4 Program
1974-75 12/17/1974 vs. Long Island Cougars W 8-1 Program
1975-76 2/2/1976 @ Broome Dusters L 5-4 Program
1975-76 3/10/1976 @ Broome Dusters L 6-4 Program
1977-78 10/23/1977 @ Maine Mariners W 6-3 Program
1977-78 2/20/1978 @ Maine Mariners L 6-3 Program
1978-79 11/17/1978 vs. Binghamton Dusters L 8-2 Program
1978-79 1/31/1979 @ Maine Mariners L 12-2 Program


==Key Players==

  • Mike Eruzione
  • Reggie Lemelin


==In Memoriam==

Firebirds owner Edward Piszek passed away on March 17, 2004 at age 87.




1975-76 NAHL Lockhart Cup champions highlight film:



Still A Millionaire With Missions” – 1986 Philadelphia Inquirer profile of ex-Firebirds owner Edward Piszek.

North American Hockey League Media Guides

North American Hockey League Programs

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs


Written by andycrossley

June 9th, 2013 at 1:38 pm