Thursday, March 5, 2015

The 2015 Minnesota State High School Boy's Hockey Tournament

The 2015 Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament continues today with the start of the Class AA tournament following yesterday's Class A Quarterfinals. Class AA consists of the top 64 schools by enrollment in the state and Class A is for the remaining schools. In terms of enrollment, Class AA is roughly for schools with 1,200 students or more, with the largest of the Twin Cities suburban schools reaching enrollments of 3,000.

Often compared to the Indiana State Boys' Basketball Tournament or the Texas and Florida State Football Tournaments as the most important nationally for their sport, the Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament is a four day festival of excitement, color and sound as the parents, relatives, fans, cheerleaders (on skates!) and bands from 16 schools all travel to the state capital of St. Paul to cheer on their teams as they compete on the ice at the home of the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, in front of sellout crowds of up to 19,500 fans!

Such is the stature of the tournament, that last year KSTC brought in no less a talent than nationally known broadcaster Gary Thorne to handle the television play-by-play duties along side Minnesota hockey legend, Lou Nanne's expert commentary, with last year being Nanne's 50th year working the state high school tournament.

The tournament began back in 1945 in St. Paul. After a stop at the home of the Minnesota North Stars, the Met Center, for eight years in the 1970's, the tournament returned to St. Paul at the new St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards, which you can see below in one of today's videos. For nearly 50 years the tournament was played as an eight team, single class tournament, which lent itself to classic David versus Goliath matchups, as the smaller schools from the northern part of the state travelled down to the big city, taking on some of the largest schools attendance-wise in the state.

Somewhat controversially, the tournament split into two classes in 1994, based on enrollment. While schools in the smaller enrollment Class A have the option to move up and play in Class AA, the tournament lost something special in the process. Still, it is the largest state sports tournament in the United States in terms of attendance and viewership, as all the championship bracket games are broadcast on local television.

Despite the arena having hosted NHL playoff conference finals, the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and the NCAA Frozen Four twice, with the nearby University of Minnesota winning the title in 2002 and the in-state University of Minnesota Duluth taking home the national championship in 2011, on March 9, 2012 19,893 fans attended the semifinals of the state tournament, setting a new record for the largest crowed to ever attend a hockey game in Minnesota, breaking the record of 19,559, which was also a session of the State High School Tournament in 2008.

Many NHL veterans have participated in the tournament, including Neal Broten, Phil Housley, Reed Larson, John Mayasich, Mike Antonovich, Henry Boucha, Mark Parrish and current NHLers T. J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues and Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets. Of the 19 Minnesota players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft between 2000 and 2009, 13 of them played in the state tournament.

Housley Packers, Housley Packers
Phil Housely of the South St. Paul Packers

Many rivalries, dynasties, villains and favorites have emerged over the years, with small schools from up north such as Eveleth, Greenway of Coleraine, International Falls and Warroad always being sentimental favorites. Roseau, in particular, has been one of the only small schools (with an enrollment of just 374 in 2012, compared to 18 Twin Cities schools between 2000-3100 students, and well below the 1150 cut-off point for Class AA status) to move up to AA and succeed with championships in 1999 and 2007.

Other schools have had their runs, with Eveleth in the late 40's/early 50's, International Falls in the 1960's, Bloomington Jefferson dominating in the early 1990's, but none more so than Edina, with ten championships, the first coming in 1969, four in the 1970's, three in the 1980's, one in 1997 and most recently in 2010. All those titles, as well as seemingly annual tournament appearances, put the Hornets at the top of the list of "teams you love to hate", as teams from the tony Minneapolis suburb Edina are considered to be "the rich kids", even sporting green and gold jerseys in the color of money, earning the Hornets the derisive nickname the "Cake Eaters", which they annoyingly wholly embrace!

Edina Champions, Edina Champions
Edina celebrating one of their 12 state titles

Aside from Edina, schools on the outs with the general public are the private schools, such as The Academy of Holy Angels (champions in 2002 and 2005), Hill-Murray (1983, 1991, 2008) and most recently St. Thomas Academy (who played in the smaller Class A, winning championships in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 until moving up last year and are making their first appearance at the state tournament this year in Class AA).

Those private schools are considered to have the advantage of being able to recruit the best players to attend their schools rather than take what comes their way in the case of the traditional public schools who draw students from their local geographic region. This "class war" is an age old argument between the public and private schools and is only magnified with the arrival of a smaller school from the north, such as when tiny Roseau makes an appearance in St. Paul, and is one of the driving forces behind the ongoing popularity of the tournament, as every great drama must have its villain.

Since its inception, Class A has been a battle between the smaller private schools, with Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Thomas Academy, Totino-Grace and Breck winning nine championships and the smaller schools from the northern part of the state now given a chance to compete for a state title, with classic schools like Eveleth and International Falls able to win their first titles since the early 1970's and first time winners like Hermantown, Red Wing and four time Class A champion Warroad flying the flag for the public schools who have captured nine titles since the two class system was introduced.

The 2012 Class AA tournament was won by Benilde-St. Margaret's, whose players all wore large patches in support of paralyzed teammate Jack Jablonski. Tied at 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the semifinals, the Red Knights scored the game winning goal with less than 24 seconds remaining. They then stormed to the championship when Grant Besse set twitter ablaze with his five goal performance, three of which were shorthanded(!), as Benilde-St. Margaret's steamrolled Hill-Murray 5-1 to win an emotional championship with all thoughts on Jablonski, who was in attendance to enjoy the storybook victory that will be talked about for years to come.

Benilde, Benilde
Benilde-St. Margaret's players wearing #13 patches in support of Jack Jablonski

This year's tournament began Wednesday with the quarterfinals in Class A with #2 seeded Mahtomedi from the northeast corner of the Twin Cities metro area vs New Ulm from the south central area of the state, with Mahtomedi winning 6-3. #3 East Grand Forks from northwest area of the state faced New Prague, also from south central Minnesota, woth East Grand Forks prevailing 4-0 to advance to face Mahtomedi. #1 Hermantown from up north outside of Duluth, taking on first timers Spring Lake Park from the northern Twin Cities area, With Spring Lake Park being 16-13-1 facing 25-2-1 Hermantown, it was of little surprise that the Hawks rolled to an 8-0 win. Of note, Hermantown has reached the state title game the last five years in a row, finishing as runner up every single time, with the first four of those being to a private school, Breck in 2010 and St. Thomas Academy in 2011, 2012 and 2013 until losing to East Grand Forks in 2014. Finally in the nightcap, #5 St. Cloud Apollo from the center of the state defeated private school and #4 ranked Breck from the Twin Cities 1-0 in overtime.

Class AA begins today and sees #2 seed and two-time defending champions Edina, coached by former Minnesota North Stars captain Curt Giles, taking on Bemidji from northern Minnesota. #3 St. Thomas Academy, making their first Class AA tournament after dominating Class A, will battle Duluth East. In the evening session, #1 ranked and undefeated Lakeville North from the south metro area is paired against private school and three time champion Hill-Murray from the Twin Cities area. Finally, #4 Blaine from the northern Twin Cities suburbs will square off against #5 seed Eden Prairie from the southwest metro suburbs, champions in 2009 and 2011. With the large number of Twin Cities schools taking part, one can see why Bemidji from "up north" will be a fan favorite for those without a rooting interest in one of the other seven teams.

It's a huge deal to make it "to state" in Minnesota. This past week thousands of fans attended the eight section finals just for right to go to the state tournament, which for the kids involved means staying in a hotel in the big city, playing in an NHL arena with your buddies that you grew up with in front of all your family and friends and having your games televised live throughout the state. Many players have gone on to win national championships in college and even in the NHL, and over and over again when asked for their greatest hockey memory, the answer frequently comes back "playing in the state tournament in high school." Not necessarily winning it, just playing in it.

Once, a hockey writer quoted former three time national champion University of Minnesota and 1980 "Miracle on Ice" USA Olympic coach Herb Brooks as saying that winning a state championship with St. Paul Johnson in 1955 was one of the best moments in his career. Brooks called the writer to inform him that he had been misquoted. He said it was the best moment.

Herb Brooks Johnson 1955, Herb Brooks Johnson 1955
Herb Brooks, back row far right, celebrating with his St. Paul Johnson
teammates after winning the state championship in 1955

Zephyrs, Eagles, Green Wave, Trojans, Hawks, Panthers, Mustangs, another Eagles, Hornets, Lumberjacks, Cadets, Greyhounds, Panthers again, Pioneers, Bengals and another Eagles.

16 teams, 4 days, 120,000 fans, some seriously bad hair, 16 bands, 2 champions. There's nothing else quite like it.

Today's featured jersey is a 2005 Warroad Warriors Zach Larson jersey. This jersey was worn by players at Warroad High School from 2001 to half way through the 2008-09 season. Warroad won the Class A championship in 2003 and 2005 with jerseys from this set, but being a #13 jersey, there were several seasons in which no one chose the unlucky sweater number 13.

Larson defied superstition and wore this jersey during their undefeated (29-0-2) championship season of 2005, and was a teammate to current St. Louis Blues and recent United States Olympic standout Oshie, who is the all-time leading scorer in Warroad history with 104 goals and 137 assists for 241 points in just 93 games. Oshie led the entire state of Minnesota in 2004-05 with 37 goals and 100 points.

Warroad Warrior T. J. Oshie

Other notable hockey players to come from Warroad include United States Olympian Gigi Marvin, current New York Islander Brock NelsonDave Christian, a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 gold medal winning USA Olympic team, who would go on to play 15 NHL seasons with Winnipeg, Washington, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago, Dave's father Bill Christian and uncle, the late Roger Christian, who won gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, and Boucha, a 1972 silver Olympic medalist who would play for Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City and Colorado of the NHL. During it's history, no United States Olympic hockey team has ever won a medal without having a player on the team from tiny Warroad!

This is a classic looking jersey in the style and colors of the old Boston Bruins jerseys of the mid 70's to the mid 90's and is one of the few remaining schools to use a Native American nickname and imagery, while others such as Grand Rapids, Minneapolis Southwest and Burnsville all discontinued their use. The use of the Warriors name by Warroad High School is approved by the local Ojibwe band of Chippewa Indians who designed the logo used on the Warriors jerseys.

Due to the multiple years of service the jerseys often see, names on the back are seldom, if ever, worn on high school jerseys.

Warroad Warriors 2001-2008 jersey photo WarroadWarriors2001-2008F.jpg
Warroad Warriors 2001-2008 jersey photo WarroadWarriors2001-2008B.jpg

Let's se if we can possibly capture the event, spirit and emotion of the tournament with today's video selections, begining with a look at last years excitement.

Here's some classic footage from 1984 with St. Paul Johnson defeating Hill-Murray showing the unique clear boards from the St. Paul Civic Center and everyone wearing Cooperalls!

Check out the explosion of joy as Hill-Murray captures the state title in 2008 over Edina.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph Jersey

On this date in 1999, the Toronto Maple Leafs set an NHL record for the fewest shots taken in a winning effort with just nine shots on goal in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.

The Maple Leafs registered three shots on goal during the first period to ten for St. Louis, but ended the period leading 1-0 on a breakaway goal by Steve Sullivan with an assist from Mike Johnson at 11:03. Little did St. Louis know there ten shots in the first period would be more than the Maple Leafs would register for the whole game.

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Steve Sullivan

The second period went even better for Toronto, when Mats Sundin scored on their first shot when he beat St. Louis starting goaltender Brent Johnson with a wrist shot off Johnson's glove from the right faceoff circle.

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Mats Sundin

Toronto's second shot of the period also found the back of the net when Lonny Bohonos, who had just been called up from the minors earlier that same day, fired a slapshot from the right circle, beating Johnson between his pads at 5:58, ending Johnson's day after giving up three goals on just five shots.

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Lonny Bohonos was called up from the St. John's Maple Leafs

With Jim Carey now in goal, the Blues fared no better as Gary Valk scored for Toronto on a 2-on-1 with Igor Korolev on the first shot Carey would face, giving Toronto four goals on six shots. Carey would save the only other shot he saw in the second period, as St. Louis again outshot Toronto, this time eight to four for the period, although Toronto scored on three of the four.

Valk Maple Leafs photo ValkMapleLeafs.jpg
Gary Valk

Carey was able to withstand the two shot barrage he faced in the third period, but the Blues failed to score on any of the ten shots they threw at Toronto netminder Curtis Joseph, who made 28 saves while blanking his former club, the 22nd shutout of his career.

Joseph Maple Leafs photo JosephMapleLeafs.jpg
Curtis Joseph 

Of the nine Toronto shots, three were credited to Sundin, with no one else having more than one.

When asked about the low number of shots, Sullivan responded "As Glen Healy told me once, 'Good teams look at the scoreboard and not the shot clock.' "

Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph jersey. While the Maple Leafs began wearing this jersey style in 1992-93, it was tweaked in 1997-98 with an odd, overly thick and quite rounded new font for the numbers and a new font for the names as well. This specification would remain in use through 1999-00 until the secondary shoulder logo was changed to a "TML" monogram and the number font reverted to a more traditional block font, only now with the addition of silver trim for the first time, while the font for the names remained unchanged, making for an odd pairing with the new number font.

This jersey also features the Memories and Dreams patch worn that year to commemorate the final season of Maple Leaf Gardens, the Maple Leafs long time home since 1931.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1998-99 jersey photo TorontoMapleLeafs1998-99jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video is a look back at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Our next video is Hamada Takasi playing the Maple Leaf Rag on his banjo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1927-28 Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Ironstone Jersey

Born in Montreal in 1898, Joe Ironstone grew up in northern Ontario and began his playing career with the Sudbury Wolves of the Northern Ontario Hockey League (NOHA) in the 1921-22 season, winning 3 and losing 2 in the 6 games in which he played before moving to the Sudbury Legionnaires, where he won 3 out of 3 starts during the regular season prior to going 0-1-1 in a pair of playoff games.

Back with the Wolves for 1922-23, Ironstone went 4-4 in eight games. Records show he was with the Wolves again in 1923-24, but no statistics are shown across multiple sources, perhaps indicating he did not play, perhaps due to an injury. He was signed by the powerful Ottawa Senators of the NHL in 1924-25, but saw no playing time as a backup to Alex Connell, who played in all 30 of the Senators games.

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Joe Ironstone

Ironstone became a member of the New York Americans during their debut season and was again a backup goaltender, this time to Jake Forbes. While Forbes played in all 36 of the games on the Americans schedule, Ironstone was able to make his NHL debut with two periods of relief work.

Having played as little as 40 minutes over the previous three seasons, Ironstone was likely more than happy to find himself a member of the Niagara Falls Cataracts (with "cataract" meaning "a large or high waterfall") where he played 23 games in the Canadian Professional Hockey League (CPHL).

He had a busy season in 1927-28, with 14 more games with Niagara Falls. After going 3-6-5, Ironstone he became a member of the Toronto Ravinas of the same league when he was sold by the Cataracts. In 26 games he posted a winning record of 13-10-3 to help the Ravinas get into the playoffs.

It was also during this season that Ironstone played in one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins on this date in 1928 as an injury replacement for goaltender John Roach. Ironstone played well and held the Bruins off the scoreboard for the entire game, earning his only NHL shutout. He was denied the win however, when Boston's Hal Winkler matched him save for save for his 12th shutout of the season as the game ended in a scoreless tie.

The next club to employ Ironstone's services was the London Panthers, for whom he played a career high 42 games on his way to a 16-22-3 record. The 1929-30 season saw Ironstone split time between London, who switched from the CPHL to the International Hockey League (IHL). After 10 games, he was back in the CPHL with the Kitchener Flying Dutchmen, with whom he won 7 and lost 8 games.

Seemingly always on the move, the 1930-31 season was divided between the Marquette Iron Rangers of the Northern Michigan Hockey League, the Guelph Maple Leafs of the Ontario Professional Hockey League and the Syracuse Stars of the IHL.

He did not play the next two seasons, but returned to the ice with the Sudbury Legion once again for the 1933-34 and 1934-35 seasons. His final season in hockey was spent with the Falconbridge Falcons of the NOHA, with whom he completed for the Allan Cup, and also make one appearance for his original team, the Sudbury Wolves, bringing his career full circle.

Ironstone's career NHL stats are the unusual line of 0-0-1 with 1 shutout. He allowed 3 goals during his relief effort in two periods in New York, and combined with his shutout in Toronto, his final goals against average stands at 1.64.

Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Ironstone jersey from his only appearance for the Maple Leafs, which resulted in a scoreless tie.

The Toronto St. Patricks had only been renamed the Maple Leafs during the previous season when the club was purchased by Conn Smythe. At the time, they changed from the St. Pats green sweaters with a white band across the chest to a plain white sweater with a green maple leaf logo on the chest. For the 1927-28 season, the club changed colors back to blue and white, as they wore during their first two seasons while they were known as the Toronto Arenas.

The simple, stripeless white sweater, worn for games against the New York Rangers, now had a blue maple leaf crest on the front. Their primary jersey was now an attractive blue jersey with multiple arm and body stripes done in the art deco style of the times.

This exact style would remain in use three seasons until a another white stripe was added across the top of the shoulders. That version of this jersey would be used through the 1933-34 season when a reversal of course was taken and the stripes were reduced to a simple pair of narrow white stripes on the arms and waist and a new, simpler leaf crest was introduced, which is nearly identical to the one the Maple Leafs now use today, 75 years later.

Toronto Maple Leafs 27-28 jersey

Monday, March 2, 2015

2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin Jersey

The Toronto Arenas had won the Stanley Cup in 1918 but quickly ran into financial difficulties and were sold by their owners, The Toronto Arena Company, who owned the Arena Gardens rink where the team played, to new owners for $5,000.

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The Arena Gardens, later changed to the Mutual Street Arena

The new owners were Charile Querrie, the General Manager of the Toronto Arenas, and the owners of an amateur hockey club called the St. Patricks. The new ownership group then changed the NHL club's name to the Toronto St. Patricks and their sweaters from blue to now green.

Rebounding from a chaotic 5-13 season resulting from the sale or defection of their best players due to the financial problems of the previous ownership, the St. Patricks were essentially starting over from scratch for the 1919-20 season.

1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team photo 1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team.jpg
1919-20 Toronto St Patricks

While they did not qualify for the playoffs, the St. Patricks did improve their season record to 12-12 and were led in points by Corb Denneny, a holdover from the Toronto Arenas, who had 24 goals and 36 points in 24 games, good for fourth in the league.

Future Hall of Famer Babe Dye led the club with 33 goals and 38 points in 23 games in 1920-21, and the team would finish first in the second half standings, but lost in the NHL finals to the Ottawa Senators.

Babe Dye during the 1920-21 season

1921-22 again saw the St. Patricks led by Dye's 31 goals and 38 points in 24 games, as Toronto would defeat the Senators 5-4 in a two-game, total goals series to capture the O'Brien Trophy and earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

The series was a best-of-five and all games were played in Toronto. The Millionaires won Game 1 and Dye scored in overtime to even the series at 1 game apiece. Vancouver shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 3, only to have the St. Patricks return the favor 6-0 in Game 4. Dye took control of the deciding Game 5, scoring four goals to lead the St. Patricks to a 5-1 victory and the Stanley Cup.

1921-22 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto St. Patricks

The next two seasons Toronto would finish in third place, and miss out on the playoffs both times. Dye again led the team in scoring both seasons, with 37 points in 1922-23 and just 19 in 1923-24, but still enough to lead the club.

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The 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks

Dye rebounded with 38 goals and 46 points in 1924-25 to lead the team for the fifth season in a row and Toronto again returned to the playoffs, only to lose out to the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 2.

Another Hall of Famer, Jack Adams, would finally unseat Dye as the club's leading scorer, as he managed 21 goals and 26 points to Dye's 23 points in 1925-26, but Toronto would fail to reach the playoffs.

St. Pats Owner Querrie lost a lawsuit to the notorious Eddie Livingstone, the one time owner of the franchise when they were known as the Toronto Blueshirts and played in the National Hockey Association, and decided to put the team up for sale. The club was purchased by Conn Smythe for $160,000 and took control of the team on February 14, 1927 and immediately changed the club's name to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On this date in 2002, the Toronto Maple Leafs wore the green jerseys of the St. Patricks, along with brown pants and helmets, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the franchise changing their name to the Maple Leafs in a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres, led by captain Mats Sundin's two goals.

Sundin Maple Leafs St Patricks photo SundinStPats.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin jersey as worn once on March 2, 2002 to mark the 75th Anniversary of the change in the club's name from the St. Patricks to the Maple Leafs following their purchase by Conn Smythe.

The original 1919-20 St. Pats jerseys were alternating green a white hoops on the body, while the sleeves were green with a single white band and white cuffs. For 1920-21, the sweaters were solid green with white cuffs, collar and waist stripe. They reverted to their original horizontally striped sweaters for 1921-22.

For 1922-23, the location of the sweater's colors were reversed, with the result being a predominately white look now that the arms were white with a green band and cuffs. This style was worn for three seasons through 1924-25. It was back to an all-green look for 1925-26, including the collar and cuffs, with the only white being three narrow stripes along the waist.

Finally, for the team's final season as the St. Patricks, they added a white chest band trimmed with narrow white stripes and reduced the three narrow waist stripes to two. With the sale of the club to Smythe, this jersey would not finish out the season, as it was immediately replaced by a solid white sweater with a green maple leaf crest, with the team colors permanently changing to blue and white for the 1927-28 season.

It would be the St. Patricks final green jersey with the white chest band of 1926-27 which would become the basis for the modern day Maple Leafs throwback jersey featured today.

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Toronto St Pats 99-00 jersey photo TorontoStPats99-00B.png

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Spectrum's Roof Blows Off

Opened on September 30, 1967, The Spectrum became home to both the expansion Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL as well as the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA.

The Spectrum

Construction began in June of 1966 and was completed in 16 months at a cost of $7 million. The name Spectrum was chosen to represent the wide range of events that would be held there.

On October 19th, the Flyers shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 with Bill Sutherland scoring the first goal in the building's history during their first ever home game in front of 7,812 fans.

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Bill Sutherland

With all six of the new expansion teams being placed in the West Division in 1967-68, the Flyers fared quite well. While all the expansion clubs were regularly defeated by the Original 6 teams which comprised the East Division, the Flyers were able to defeat all of the established clubs to gain valuable points in the standings as well as hold their own against the expansion cousins.

On February 17, 1968 the Ice Capades to move in for their show in Philadelphia. The 11,000 in attendance that afternoon got more than the bargained for when high winds blew a large section of the roof off the building with a thunderous roar, letting daylight into the arena. With the Flyers on a road trip until the 22nd, a patch was put on the roof and the Flyers completed a three game homestand without any further issues.

Going into the last of the three games on February 29th, 1968 (yes, it was a Leap Year), the Flyers were sitting at 26-24-9 with 61 points. They lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 that night and then vacated the Spectrum to travel to New York to face the Rangers on March 2nd.

On this date in 1968, the winds once again blew with such force that more of the materials were torn from the roof. "We could have fixed it within 24 hours, but it became a political football. They closed the arena and we had to play our last eight games on the road. Also, we had to refund the money, which I didn't have," said Flyers owner Ed Snider.

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Light  streaming through the hole in The Spectrum's damaged roof

Then Philadelphia Mayor James H. J. Tate surveyed the damage in person and then announced the Spectrum was closed for repairs indefinitely, forcing the Flyers to vacate the Spectrum for their remaining home games while repairs were conducted.

The extended time to conduct the repairs, which in reality should have taken less than two weeks was a result of the political wrangling over the situation between Republican Walter Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Democrat Matthew McCloskey, owner of the firm who constructed the Spectrum on a limited budget due to the finances of Jerry Wolman, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles who paid for the construction of the stadium but started to run out of money before it was completed, resulting in a number of cutbacks.

More political posturing occurred between Mayor Tate, a democrat, and Arlen Specter, the city's District Attorney, and the man who Tate just happened to defeat for the Mayor's office! Specter sent his own investigators to the scene, knowing both Wolman and McCloskey had contributed to Tate's campaign, looking to uncover as much evidence to use against his foes as possible.

Spectrum management, eager to get back in business as quickly as possible reminded everyone the job was rushed with everyone's knowledge in order to get the Flyers franchise. "If we'd followed every damn semicolon," said Hal Freeman, president of the Spectrum, "it would have taken three years to finish the place. Everyone knew there would be shortcuts. But we've passed every inspection required, as far as I know."

Tate, proceeding with as much care and concern as possible to keep himself from being subject to any further political scrutiny by the Inquirer, ordered the Franklin Institute to conduct tests on the new roofing materials, including some in a wind tunnel, as well as research into which kind of fasteners should be used to attach the roof. Not wanting to risk their scientific reputation, the institute took care to make an informed decision. All of this led to the extended delay in getting the roof repairs completed, sending the Flyers on the road for the final month of the season.

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Repairs to the roof look longer than necessary

While the 76ers were able to simply move back to their previous home, Convention Hall, the other possibly suitable arenas in Philadelphia were not equipped to make ice back in those days. With no other options remaining in Philadelphia, the Flyers next "home" game was played in Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 3rd, (the day after the Flyers played the Rangers there) 100 miles northeast, where they tied the Oakland Seals 1-1 in front of 12,127.

The Flyers then traveled to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on March 6th, losing 7-2, and then stayed in town to "host" Boston the next night in Maple Leaf Gardens, a game they also lost 2-1 while drawing a respectable 10,452 for a neutral site game.

A more permanent plan was put into place during the three days before their next game, as the Flyers remaining home games for the rest of the regular season were now to be played at Le Colisee in Quebec City, in Canada, which was home to the Flyers top minor league affiliate, the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League.

Life in French speaking Canada agreed with the Flyers, as they shut out the Minnesota North Stars 2-0 behind the goaltending of Bernie Parent on March 10th with 10,171 in attendance. After defeating the North Stars again in Minnesota on March 13th, they returned "home" to Quebec to tie the Kings with just 4,116 on hand. Things were quite different when the Maple Leafs made the trip to Quebec as 13,650 were in attendance for the popular Canadian opponents, whom the Flyers defeated 7-4.

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Flyer's goaltender Bernie Parent

After three road games Philadelphia returned to Le Colisee for a pair of vital games as work continued on the Spectrum's roof, as the Flyers were in a tie with the Kings for first place in the division with three games left on the schedule with 71 points each.

On March 28th, the Flyers got a second period goal from Gary Dornhoefer at 4:21 and an empty net goal from Andre Lacroix to seal a 2-0 shutout by Doug Favell as watched by 5,382. The two points put Philadelphia at 73 points to the Kings 71. Two nights Pittsburgh shut out the Flyers 2-0 in Quebec, but they clinched the division with one game left to play when the Kings drew with Oakland later that day out in California during the final game on their schedule.

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Gary Dornhoefer

The Flyers dropped their final game of the season 5-1 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh to finish the season with 73 points to the Kings 72. St. Louis came third with 70 points and became the Flyers first round playoff opponent.

The two teams met at the now repaired Spectrum on April 4, 1968 for the first game in Philadelphia since February 29th. During the Flyers month long road trip in March, the club was 5-7-2 including a 3-1-1 record for games in Quebec and 3-2-2 including their relocated games in New York and Toronto.

Their playoff series went the full seven games, including wins at home in Game 2 and Game 5, but lost at home 3-1 in the deciding Game 7 to end the tumultuous finish to their season.

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The 1967-68 Philadelphia Flyers played more
road games than they had bargained for

Throughout it's history the Spectrum saw the Flyers win the Stanley Cup at home in 1974, defeat the Soviet Central Red Army in a memorable, if not notorious, game in 1976. Later that season it also hosted to games of the inaugural Canada Cup when the United States played Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. It would later host Stanley Cup Finals games in 1975, 1976, 1980, 1985 and 1987.

Spectrum banners
The Flyers retired numbers hang from the Spectrum ceiling

The NHL All-Star Game was played there in both 1976 and 1992, as well as the NBA's All-Star Game in 1970 and 1976, making it the only arena's to host both All-Star Games in the same year. The NBA finals were also held there in 1977, 1980 (during the same time period the Flyers were also in the finals, 1982 and 1983.

Once the Flyers moved to a new arena, their top minor league club, the Philadelphia Phantoms called the Spectrum home from 1996 to 2009, including winning the Calder Cup in 1998 on home ice.

Spectrum logo
The jersey patch worn by the Phantoms during the Spectrum's final season

Additionally, the arena hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1976 and 1981, as well as numerous rodeos, professional wrestling cards, concerts, including Elvis Presley, The Doors, Pink Floyd and The Who.

The Flyers continued to play in the Spectrum until the 1995-96 season until moving to the new CoreStates Center, which has since been renamed three times through various naming rights deals and is currently known as the Wells Fargo Center.

After the departure of the Flyers and 76ers, the arena continued to operate as usual, which included being home to the Phantoms, as well as indoor soccer and arena football clubs.

Finally the Spectrum was closed on October 31, 2009 and demolition began in late November of 2010.

Spectrum wrecking ball
The wrecking ball begins to take down the Spectrum

Today's featured jersey is a 1967-68 Philadelphia Flyers Forbes Kennedy jersey from the Flyers inaugural season. For the Flyers first three seasons they wore simple one color numbers and no names on the backs of their sweaters. They were the first NHL team to use orange as their primary color.

The front of their jersey was decorated with their Flying P logo, which has remained in use throughout the entire history of the team and has aged very well over time. The basic flyers sweater design of the color running down and then wrapping around the arms just above the wrists, which have always been black on both the home or road style, was a popular style at the time and the Flyers have stuck with them, although in a modified form with the introduction of the new Reebok jerseys in 2007, only to see it return in 2008 with a new retro style alternate jersey, since promoted to their primary home jersey.

Kennedy played in 603 NHL games, scoring 70 goals and 178 points as well as 988 penalty minutes. While a smaller player, he was known for his toughness and grit, making him an early fan favorite with the fans in Philadelphia.

His NHL career began in 1956 with the Chicago Black Hawks and he subsequently played for Detroit and Boston prior to joining the Flyers in 1967-68. After playing 59 games for the Flyers in 1968-69, he was traded to the Maple Leafs where his NHL career concluded.

Philadelphia Flyers 67-68 jersey

Today's video segment begins with the Top 10 moments in Spectrum history.

Next, the Flyers win the Stanley Cup on Spectrum ice in 1974. Look at all those fans on the ice afterwards!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2010 Team Canada Sidney Crosby Jersey

After their failure to medal at the 2006 Olympics, there could not have been more pressure on Canada to win gold as hosts of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

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The 12 teams in the tournament were divided into three groups of four teams each based on their IIHF World Rankings. Following the completion of group play, the group winners, plus the fourth ranked team, were given byes into the quarterfinals where they would await the winners of elimination games among the eight remaining teams.

Group A was won by the United States following an exciting 5-3 win for the Americans what was in doubt until the final minute before an empty net goal provided the final margin.

Hard fought Group B belonged to Russia while defending gold medalists Sweden went undefeated in Group C. Finland advanced as the fourth ranked team with 6 points in their group, the same as the Czech Republic, but earned the bye thanks to a better goal differential thanks to big wins over Belarus and Germany.

In the Elimination Round, Switzerland defeated Belarus 3-2 in overtime, the Czech Republic downed feisty Latvia 3-2, also in overtime, Slovakia beat plucky Norway 4-3 and Canada dominated Germany 8-2.

The Quarterfinals had the United States advancing with a 2-0 win over the Swiss, Finland shutout the Czechs 2-0, Slovakia upset Sweden 4-3 to end their hopes of a repeat and Canada dominated Russia 7-3.

The Semifinals paired the United States with Finland and Canada and Slovakia. In the first game, the United States streaked out to a shocking 6-0 lead a little over half way through the first period on their way to a 6-1 win and a place in the final.

Canada got two first period goals by Patrick Marleau and Brendan Morrow and then at 16:54 of the second period Ryan Getzlaf's goal gave the Canadians a 3-0 lead, which was enough to defeat the Slovaks, who scored two goals three and a half minutes apart midway through the third period to make for a tense finish. Canada was able to hold on to earn a rematch with the United States in the final with gold on the line at home and on an NHL sized ice sheet.

2010 Olympics in Canada

The dream matchup between the two North American rivals was a tense affair with both teams getting their chances to score until Jonathan Toews beat US goalie Ryan Miller on the short side to take a 1-0 lead at 12:50 of the first, the only goal of the period and the first time the United States had trailed in a game the entire tournament.

Toews goal
Jonathan Toews opens the scoring for Canada

The second period was more of the same, with hard hits, great saves and little scoring as the tension in the arena rose. Finally Corey Perry coming down the slot fired a loose puck past Miller for a 2-0 Canadian lead at 7:13.

Perry goal
Corey Perry puts Canada up by two

The Americans responded with a goal from Ryan Kesler that squeaked between Roberto Lunogo's body and arm at 12:44. The remainder of the second period was played even, as the shots on goal finished at 15-15.

Kesler goal
Ryan Kesler's goal gets the US on the board

Again, the third period wore on as the two teams punched and counterpunched, yet both failed to yield a goal. With no penalties called, waiting for a power play proved futile. With time running out and desperation setting in, the United States pulled Miller from their goal with 1:27 remaining for an extra attacker. With time now running out on the Americans, Patrick Kane hurled the puck at the Vancouver goal. It bounced off of Lunongo and was banged in by Zach Parise with 25 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Pairse celebrates
Parise's late goal puts the party on hold and
gives the US hope of stealing the gold

After seven minutes of play, during which many hoped someone, anyone, would score as to avoid having the gold medal decided by a shootout, Canada was leading 6-4 in shots, Jarome Iginla passed the puck off the boards to Sidney Crosby, who had a clear path to the goal. He took a few strides before shooting the puck, which went under Miller's pads before he could close the gap, ending one of the most memorable games in the history of the sport.

Crobsy golden goal
Crosby beats Miller to win gold

The goal sent the arena, and all of Canada, into a delirious celebration.

Crosby celebrates golden goal
Crosby begins the celebration of his golden goal

The gold medal was the eighth for Canada and their second in three tries after a 50 year drought.

Canada gold medals
Canada poses for a team picture after receiving their gold medals

Today's featured jersey is a 2010 Team Canada Sidney Crosby jersey as worn during the gold medal final in which Crosby scored the gold medal winning goal in overtime. Crosby had worn the assistant captain's "A" earlier in the tournament but for the final it was worn by Iginla and Chris Pronger.

With the ruling that countries could not carry the logos of their national organizations as their main crest, the usual Hockey Canada logo was replaced by a maple leaf which contained an intricate design full of symbols of Canadian culture and heritage, including an eagle, thunderbird, moose, beaver, maple leafs representing past gold medals and fleur-de-lis as well as a hockey player.

This jersey was a big improvement over the Nike Swift jerseys introduced in 2006 where each team wore essentially the exact same jersey only with their countries colors changed. By 2010, the designs began to diverge, with each country having it's own unique designs once again, although with certain elements shared, which is natural when they all come from the same source.

Canada 2010 Olympics photo Canada 2010 OLY F.jpg
Canada 2010 Olympics photo Canada 2010 OLY B.jpg

This jersey is adorned with several logos, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympic logo on the left sleeve, the controversial Hockey Canada logo on the right sleeve and finally the Canadian Olympic Committee logo on the bottom right of the back of the jersey in the location formerly occupied by the IIHF logo.

Canada 2010 Olympics photo Canada 2010 OLY P2.jpgaaaCanada 2010 Olympics photo Canada 2010 OLY P1.jpgaaaCanada 2010 Olympics photo Canada 2010 OLY P3.jpg

Today's video selections begin with the Top 10 plays of the tournament, followed by highlights from the gold medal final.


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