The Erie Blades played in the North American Hockey League in the NAHL’s final two years of existence. The team can best be described as mediocre. The Blades are indirectly related to the present day Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. The team played their home games out of the Erie County Field House. The Arena had seating for 3,750 with an overall capacity of 5,250. The building now serves as a warehouse.
In their first year, the Blades were affiliated with the Denver Spurs / Ottawa Civics franchise of the World Hockey Association. In 1976-77, their affiliation switched to the WHA’s Houston Aeros.
The Blades started out their first year with some NAHL big names on the roster. However, during the season, Dave Staffen, Larry Mavety and Bill Goldthorpe moved on. Erie finished third in the West Division with 75 points in 74 games during the regular season. In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, the Blades met up with the Philadelphia Firebirds in the opening round. The Firebirds took the series, three games to two.
Erie was coached in both their NAHL seasons by Nick Polano. Nick was fresh off a pro career that spanned from 1959-60 to 1973-74 in pretty much every North American league except for the NHL. He played 17 games in the WHA with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73. The following year, he appeared in the NAHL with the Cape Cod Cubs before becoming the team’s head coach midway through the season. Polano went on to coach the Detroit Red Wings for three years from 1982-83 to 1984-85.
Robbie Neale led the Blades offensively with 66 points in 56 games. Neale’s contribution was a far cry from league leader Rod Bloomfield who tallied 173 points with the Binghamton Dusters. Eddie Mio played 15 games in net for Erie. Mio went on to play in the National Hockey League from 1979-80 to 1985-86 with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.
Erie finished fifth in the eight team league with 78 points over 74 games. The Blades exacted revenge on the Philadelphia Firebirds in the opening round, downing their rivals, three games to one. In the semi-finals, Erie was taken out by the Syracuse Blazers, four games to one. Syracuse went on to capture the Lockhart Cup championship.