Thursday, July 24, 2014
July by the Numbers stops in Northern Illinois for jersey #24.
A member of the United Hockey League, the Rockford IceHogs came into being when the Thunder Bay Thunder Cats were sold and relocated to Rockford for the 1999-00 season after eight years and three championships (as wellas three different names!) in Canada.
The name "IceHogs" was chosen after a "name the team" contest. Jason Firth led the team in scoring with 110 points and the club was a first round exit from the playoffs in year one. The IceHogs failed to make the playoffs in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 but a winning record in 2002-03 returned them to the playoffs but another first round exit awaited them.
A large step back in 2003-04 saw them drop 16 points in the standings and once again fail to qualify for the postseason. The IceHogs began to climb up the standings in 2004-05 when they were led in scoring by Jean-Francois Dufour's 79 points in 77 games. Rockford finished in second place in the Western Division with a 46-25-9 record for 101 points and followed that success by winning their first ever playoff series in Illinois with a 4 games to 2 win over the Kalamazoo Wings before falling to the Fort Wayne Komets in overtime of Game 7 in Round 2.
2005-06 saw the IceHogs improve to a 48-19-9 mark for 105 points and the Western Division title. Rockford bounced For Wayne in Round 1 in five games but were swept by Kalamazoo in the second round.
The IceHogs had another strong regular season in 2006-07, again reaching 48 wins on the way to 103 points and second place in the west. Rockford had an easy time ousting the Quad City Mallards in five games prior to doing the same to Fort Wayne in the second to advance to the finals.
The IceHogs opponents in the finals Kalamazoo required a full seven games in the previous round to advance, giving the IceHogs and additional four days rest, which may have paid off when Game 1 in Rockford required overtime before the IceHogs won 3-2. They cruised to an easy 6-1 win, also at home, in Game 2.
The Wings won games 3 and 4 on home ice 3-0 and 6-5 to send the series back to Rockford for Game 5, where Rockford again won by a score of 6-1 to reach the brink of a championship. Kalamazoo held serve at home in Game 6 with a 6-2 victory to set up a decisive Game 7 back in Rockford.
Rockford made it a clean sweep for the home teams when they captured the Colonial Cup with a 3-1 win in Game 7, which would prove to be the final game in franchise history.
Off the ice, the team's arena authority, who controls the Rockford MetroCentre, purchased both the dormant Cincinnati Mighty Ducks franchise of the American Hockey League, as well as the rights to the UHL's IceHogs identity as part of a 23 million dollar plan to extensively renovate the arena, brining to an end the seven year history of the UHL IceHogs.
The new version of the IceHogs would sign a 10 year agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL and compete in the AHL as Chicago's top minor league affiliate, two levels higher up the minor league ladder than the UHL was considered, and take to the ice with the same logo and colors as their predecessors.
Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Rockford IceHogs Sean McEachran jersey from the IceHogs debut season in the UHL. Free of the pressures to create a jersey which must generate millions of dollars of income in merchandise sales at the NHL level, minor league jersey designers have the opportunity to take more risks when outfitting their teams.
While some may take the approach of simply putting their logo on the same template as their parent club, especially higher up in the minors when teams have an affiliation with specific NHL clubs, the IceHogs had the freedom to create an attractive new design with bold arm striping, bold numbers and an unusual choice of font for the names on the back, one seldom seen on a hockey jersey.
While the IceHogs logo is very cartoonish, as can often be the case in the low minors, the rest of the jersey is an effective and attractive package overall, and benefits from the solid black and red color combination, avoiding trendy colors which can quickly look dated as tastes change.
Today's video selection is the final two minutes of the UHL's IceHogs as they win the Colonial Cup on home ice.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
July by the Numbers returns to Switzerland for jersey #23
Chances are if it's an odd and unusual jersey, it comes from Switzerland, and today's jersey fits that profile once more.
Based in the north eastern part of Switzerland, SC Herisau was founded in 1942 and play in the Sportzentrum Herisau arena, which has a capacity of 3,152.
The high point for the club came in 1996-97, when they won the Swiss National League B championship for the only time, earning a promotion to the top level of hockey in Switzerland, the Swiss National League A in a shocking underdog story. The club did include Canadians Claude Vilgrain, who had ten years of experience in the IHL, AHL and 89 games of NHL experience with the New Jersey Devils, and Devin Edgerton, who brought five seasons of IHL play and went on to play a dozen years in Europe. "It was one of the wonders that it is in sports," said Mark McGregor, the coach said.
Vilgrain while still a member of the Devils
Unfortunately, the Cinderella story ended there, as the club was unable to compete with the top level clubs and was relegated after just one season following a 9-29-2 record and a last place finish.
The team currently plays in the 1. Liga, the third level of Swiss hockey behind the NLA and NLB after having dropped down to the 2. Liga at one point.
The 2010-11 SC Herisau team
Other notable names to have played for SC Herisau include former Florida Panther Jesse Belanger and former Hartford Whaler Sylvain Turgeon, both in 1997-98.
Some of SC Herisau's passionate fans
Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 SC Herisau Libor Dolana jersey. This most unique jersey features both the player name and back number rotated 45º !
Aside from the rotation of the name and numbers, this jersey is typical of a early 90's European jersey, as it is a lighter weight mesh jersey with sublimated graphics. As if the jagged, almost lightning bolt stripes running diagonally across the body and the arms weren't enough, it also features the trademark three stripes from Adidas running down each arm.
The odd thing about this jersey is, in contrast to the bold striping, large sponsor logos and unusual rotated customization, is the overly simple club name on the front, which one would expect to be bigger and in a more exciting font, if not some sort of graphic logo, in an effort to keep up with the volume of the rest of the jersey.
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
In Today's video section, the fans if SC Herisau celebrate their club with a joyful racket, drums and all, which lasts a considerable amount of time!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014
July by the Numbers jersey #21 takes us to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
The oldest major junior team in the world, the Regina Pats were formed in 1917 and t heir original name was the Regina Patricia, after the military unit, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, which was named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and whose regimental crest is still worn on the shoulder of the club's jerseys.
The Patricias competed for the very first Memorial Cup in 1919 and again in 1922. In 1923 the team named was shortened to the Pats and two seasons later they won their first championship in 1925 with a 2 games to none win over Toronto Aura Lee. The club won their second title in 1928 when they were briefly known as the Regina Monarchs after merging with the Regina Falcons, with a 2 games to 1 win over the Ottawa Gunners.
1927-28 Memorial Cup champion Regina Monarchs
Their third title in six seasons came in 1930, after having to returned to being called the Pats, with a two game sweep of the West Toronto Nationals. The club made one more trip to the finals in 1933 prior to folding following the 1934-35 season.
1929-30 Memorial Cup champion Regina Pats
It would not be until 1946 that the Regina Pats would be resurrected when two junior teams, the Abbotts and Commandos merged to form a new organization, which became a farm team of the Montreal Canadiens and members of the newly created Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, as the provence's hockey leagues had previously been divided into separate northern and southern leagues.
Only two seasons later, the Pats would join the Western Canada Junior Hockey League. It would not take the club long to attain success in the WCJHL, as they made their first appearance in the Memorial Cup final in 1950 and again in 1952, 1955 and 1956 after dominating the WCJHL, but agonizingly coming up short each time for the national title.
The club would rejoin the SJHL for 1957-58 and immediately return to the Memorial Cup Final, only to once again come up short. A new WCJHL was formed in 1966 and once again the Pats were on the move to a new league, which then changed it's name to the Western Canada Hockey League. Then, following a dispute over the upper age limit for junior players, the Pats left the WCHL for the SJHL for two seasons before the disputes were resolved and the Pats returned to the WCHL in 1970-71, but not before the Pats made the Memorial Cup in 1969.
The Pats captured the WCHL title in 1973-74, led in scoring by Dennis Sobchuk's 146 points in 66 games, followed by Clark Gilles 112 on their way to a 43-14-11 record. They finished the Round Robin portion of the schedule with a 1-1 record and advanced to the final thanks to their superior goal differential and then defeated the Quebec Remparts 7-4 to capture the first Memorial Cup since the team's rebirth 28 years earlier.
1973-74 Memorial Cup champion Regina Pats
The Pats have again made the Memorial Cup as the now renamed Western Hockey League champions in 1980 behind Doug Wickenheiser's league leading 89 goals and 170 points in 72 games.
The Pats most recent Memorial Cup appearance came in 2001 as hosts, where they fell in overtime of the semifinals.
Since the inception of the NHL Draft in 1963, Larry Wright became the first Pats player selected in the first round, when he was taken 8th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1971. In 1974, Greg Joly became the first Pat ever taken first overall when he was selected by the Washington Capitals followed by Gilles 4th overall. Wickenheiser was the next Regina player taken #1 by Montreal in 1980.
Other first round players selected after playing for the Pats have been Garth Butcher (1981-10th), Mike Sillinger (1989 - 11th overall), Jason Smith (1992-18th), Jeff Friesen (1998-11th), Derek Morris (1996-13th), Brad Stuart (1998-3rd), and Calder Cup winner Barret Jackman (1999-17th). Other notable Pats have included Dirk Graham and Stu Grimson.
The Pats have retired seven numbers in honor of eight players, #1 for goaltender Ed Staniowski, #8 for Brad Hornung, #9 for Gilles, #12 for Wickenheiser, #14 for Sobchuk, #16 for the franchise's all-time leading scorer Dale Derkatch and Sillinger and #17 for Bill Hicke.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Regina Pats Josh Holden jersey. After a long history of classic jerseys, this style, made by Starter, suffers from the design excesses of the era, making for a loud and garish jersey, which thankfully did not last very long until a return to a more traditional style.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
July by the Numbers travels to the future for jersey #20!
Before we visit the future, we must visit the past in order to understand where we are going by looking back at where we've been. The history of hockey in Cleveland can be traced back to the Cleveland Athletic Club, the first winners of the MacNaughton Cup in 1914.
The first professional team to call Cleveland home was the Cleveland Indians of the International Hockey League, who relocated from Kitchener, Ontario in 1929 where they were known as the Dutchmen. They were rather successful their first season, going 24-9-9 and won the league championship, defeating Buffalo 3 games to 1. That would be the high point for the Indians, as they would slip down the standings, finishing last or next to last their final three seasons before being renamed the Cleveland Falcons in 1934.
Moe Roberts of the Cleveland Indians hockey team
The Falcons would play two seasons in the IHL, which then merged with the Canadian American Hockey League to form the new International-American Hockey League for the 1936-37 season.
Tommy Cook of the Cleveland Falcons
After one more year as the Falcons, the franchise was again renamed, this time as the Cleveland Barons for the 1937-38 season. The Barons would win the Calder Cup as IAHL champions in 1939 before the league shortened it's name to simply the American Hockey League for the 1940-41 season.
The Barons would provide Cleveland with it's longest, most stable and successful period of hockey in the city's history, playing 36 seasons, during which time they won nine championships, those coming in 1939, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1964 in front of standing room only crowds in what was the Golden Age of Cleveland hockey. So successful was the franchise, that at one point in the early 1950's ownership tried to apply for entrance into the National Hockey League and so confident their owner that the Barons issued a challenge to the NHL for the right to play for the Stanley Cup!
The Cleveland Barons accepting another of their nine Calder Cups
Eventually, ownership of the franchise passed to Nick Mileti, who became the owner of the Cleveland entry in the new World Hockey Association in 1972. The combination of the competition for the fans of Cleveland, who now had a major league team to support for the first time, and the dramatic increase in competition for players against not only the new WHA, but the expanding NHL, spelled the end for the Barons, as Mileti moved the team to Florida in the middle of the 1972-73 season.
Mileti's new WHA club, the Cleveland Crusaders, made a splash by luring goaltender Gerry Cheevers away from the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
The team had a good first season, but moderate attendance for four seasons, combined with issues with their new arena located too far from the city and the impending arrival of the relocating California Golden Seals of the NHL, sent the Crusaders out of town after just four seasons.
The 1974-75 Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA
The club that drove the Crusaders out of town revived the Cleveland Barons name, but did not come anywhere near duplicating their original Barons success, as they not only brought all the competitive issues the Golden Seals suffered on the ice with them from California, but compounded those by moving into the problematic Richfield Coliseum. The doomed Barons only lasted two troubled seasons, finishing with a 47-87-26 record overall.
Goaltender Gilles Meloche anchored the NHL's Cleveland Barons
Cleveland would be without professional hockey until the 1992-93 season when the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL relocated to Ohio and were the top affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Lumberjacks sharp jerseys based on the Penguins jerseys of the early 1990's
The Lumberjacks had five winning seasons in their nine years of existence., including four seasons of 90 points or more, but managed only one deep playoff run, that coming in 1997, when they reached the third round of the Turner Cup playoffs. At the end of the 2000-01 season, the IHL, which had been around since 1945, collapsed due to a combination of expanding too quickly and not nearly enough teams having affiliations with NHL franchises. While 6 of the 11 IHL franchises were accepted into the AHL, Cleveland was not among those, and the Lumberjacks run came to an end.
The trendy late 90's teal and black look of the Lumberjacks, complete with Beaver logo and buzzsaw waist stripe
Cleveland was not left without hockey though, as the San Jose Sharks of the NHL purchased their AHL affiliate, the Kentucky Thoroughblades, and relocated them to Cleveland, where they revived the Cleveland Barons name once again. While the Lumberjacks had averaged between 8,200 and 9,000 fans their first six seasons, their attendance had dropped to 4,200 in their final season, which proved to be the equal of the new Barons best season, due in part to the team's struggles on the ice, as they had only one winning season in five years, winning less than 30 games three times and only qualifying for the playoffs once, that being a first round exit.
The Cleveland Sharks logo
When the Sharks relocated the franchise to Worcester, Massachusetts for the 2006-07 season, Cleveland was left without a team for just one season before the inactive Utah Grizzlies AHL franchise was purchased and moved to Cleveland, where it was named the Lake Erie Monsters where they remain today as affiliates of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. Unlike several of their immediate predecessors, the Monsters have enjoyed a steady increase in attendance over their now seven seasons and hope to maintain a steady presence as they write their chapter in the history of hockey in Cleveland.
The Lake Erie Monsters in action
Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Cleveland Lumberjacks Evgeni Nabokov jersey. This wild jersey is emblematic of the many special occasion jerseys seen in the minor leagues. Special one-off designs can often be seen on various holidays that occur during the hockey season, such as Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day in particular which often results in the players having to sacrifice their dignity as they are forced to wear pink jerseys with red hearts.
Other club's will create a special jersey simply to go along with a special themed promotion, such as jerseys made to look like tuxedos, cowboys, pirates, prison uniforms and guards, cows or the clothing worn by Ronald McDonald, Don Cherry, Bob Uecker and Michael Jackson, which included the players each wearing one white glove!
Tributes and awareness themes have also spawned many sets of unique jerseys, such as those for military tribute or breast cancer awareness nights, with the jerseys regularly auctioned off to the fans following the game.
In 1999 the approach of the Millennium occupied the minds of many, particularly the threat of computers world wide crashing due the "Y2K" scare - to not being able to recognize the difference between "2000" and "1900" due to only having two digits to signify the year.
Major League Baseball recognized the upcoming flipping of the calendar with the notorious "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion, wearing jerseys from twenty some years in the future, and the Lumberjacks also got into the spirit of the event with their own Millennium special occasion jersey, filled with futuristic imagery and decorated with the inspired choice of the same font used on bank checks, "MICR".
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Lake Erie Monsters Aaron Mackenzie jersey from the most recent professional team to call Cleveland home. This jersey illustrates the modern template and lines of the newest generation of Reebok designed jerseys, which have moved away from the classic horizontal striping of hockey jerseys of the past.
While the Monsters regularly wear their modern jerseys, they have also worn AHL Baron's throwback jerseys as well as WHA Crusaders throwbacks in recognition of the team's that built a foundation of Cleveland hockey history.
Today's video section begins with the Cleveland Baron's star Fred Glover, and AHL legend and one of the best players you have never heard of.
Here is a look at the history of the original Barons and the WHA's Crusaders.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
July by the Numbers returns to Canada for jersey #19.
Founded in 1936 as a member of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, the Brandon Wheat Kings competed in the MJHL for two seasons prior to changing their name to the Brandon Elks for two seasons, which included winning the MJHL championship and the Turnbull Cup in 1938-39.
Following a five year hiatus for World War II, the club returned to the ice for the 1945-46 season as well as returning to the name Wheat Kings to reflect the agricultural nature of their surrounding community in western Manitoba. The club quickly found their stride, winning championships in 1947, 1949 and 1950. They also went on to capture the 1949 Abbott Cup as champions of all of western Canada after defeating the Calgary Buffaloes.
After competing for four more seasons through 1953-54, the club once again went dormant for four seasons from 1954-55 to 1957-58.
The 1953-54 Brandon Wheat Kings
Similar to their previous break during World War II, the Wheat Kings returned with a vengeance. After a third place finish in 1958-59, Brandon reeled off five consecutive first place finishes and converted that dominance into four league playoff victories in five tires, winning titles in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964, after a regular season record of 27-1-2! During their five year period of MJHL dominance, the Wheat Kings posted a combined record of 132-34-7.
After three more seasons in the MJHL, the Wheat Kings joined the Western Hockey League for the 1967-68 season where they found life a lot harder going, as it was not until ten seasons for them to achieve a first place regular season finish, all without any playoff success.
The 1976-77 club was led by the trio of Bill Derlago (a WHL record 96 goals and 178 points), Ray Allison (137 points) and Brian Propp (135 points) who took the top three places in the WHL scoring race. They repeated their first place finish in 1977-78 with Propp taking the scoring title with 182 points, but it all really came together in 1978-79 when the Wheat Kings set not only a WHL record, but a Canadian Hockey League (encompassing both the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as well) with a stellar 58-5-9 record for 125 points. Propp set the all-time franchise record, as well as setting a new WHL single season scoring record, with 194 points to take his second straight scoring title, 39 points clear of second place teammates Allison (153 points) and Laurie Boschman (149 points).
The 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon went on to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL playoff champions, which earned them a place in the Memorial Cup. While the Wheat Kings finished first in the round robin portion, they lost in the final 2-1 in overtime.
The Wheat Kings fell into a down period with 13 seasons with only one finish above 5th and eight seasons out of the playoffs. The highlight of this era was the 1983-84 season when Ray Ferarro set a WHL record with 108 goals on his way to a league scoring title with 192 points. Cam Plante also set an all-time league record with 140 points for a defenseman that same season.
Beginning in 1992-93, the Wheat Kings rebounded with back-to-back second place finishes before a trio of first place finishes from 1995 to 1997 and another Memorial Cup appearance in 1995 and a playoff championship and subsequent Memorial Cup appearance in 1996.
Five seasons later they were back on top once again for three of the next four seasons (2002, 2003 and 2005), but playoff success eluded them each time. In 2004-05 a trio of Wheat Kings again led the WHL in scoring - Eric Fehr (111 points), Ryan Stone (99 points) and Tim Konsorada (87 points).
Since then the Wheat Kings have managed a pair of first place finishes in 2006-07 and 2009-10, a season during which they also hosted the Memorial Cup and were able to reach the final.
Other notable players for Brandon include Ron Hextall, Brian McCabe, Brad McCrimmon, Jeff Odgers, Chris Osgood, Wade Redden, Jordin Tootoo and Oleg Tverdovsky.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Brandon Wheat Kings Ryan Robson jersey. This jersey uses the template of the Philadelphia Flyers traditional jersey where the stripe down the arm wraps around the wrists, a look that was much more popular back in the 1980's when it was also used by the Los Angeles Kings.