Showing posts with label cape cod cubs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cape cod cubs. Show all posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 4 PIM Champs In NAHL History

gilles bilodeau beauce jaros nahl
The NAHL existed for just four years from 1973-74 to 1976-77. The league was the inspiration for the movie ‘Slapshot’, starring Paul Newman. It seems fitting that we look at the penalty minute champs over those four years. Each year brought a different PIM leader. Surprisingly, these four guys contributed with offense, as well.

Nick Fotiu – Cape Cod Cubs

Nick Fotiu led the NAHL in PIM in the league’s inaugural season. Over 72 regular season games with the Cape Cod Cubs, the future NHLer totalled 371 minutes in the sin bin. Suspensions were not readily handed out in the olden days, allowing Nick to play in nearly all of his team’s 74 games.

His PIM total was 55 more than second place Dave Ferguson of the Syracuse Blazers. Nick added 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Fotiu continued his sinful ways with 80 penalty minutes over 13 games. However, he was also nearly a point per game with eleven on four goals and seven assists.

Fotiu moved on to a fairly lengthy National Hockey League career. Nick played 646 regular season games in the NHL between 1976-77 and 1988-89 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Over that time, he contributed 137 points and sat 1,362 penalty minutes. Over 38 Stanley Cup playoff game, Fotiu added four assists and 67 PIM.

Nick also played in the World Hockey Association. He appeared with the New England Whalers during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.

Gary Sittler – Syracuse Blazers

With 109 minutes less than Nick Fotiu the year before, Gary Sittler led the NAHL in 1974-75 with 262 penalty minutes over 71 games with the Syracuse Blazers. His lead was just 12 minutes over second place Jeff Carlson of the Johnstown Jets. Gary added nine goals and 37 assists for a respectable 46 points. In the playoffs, he added four more assists over seven games while sitting 14 minutes.

The brother of Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler, Gary also played his junior hockey with the London Knights. Sittler played for Syracuse in three of the four NAHL seasons, excluding 1975-76. His major league action was limited to five games with the WHA’s Michigan Stags in 1974-75.

Gilles Bilodeau – Beauce Jaros

In 1975-76, Gilles Bilodeau set the eternal league record with 451 PIM over just 58 games with the Beauce Jaros. His margin of victory was a remarkable 140 minutes more than second place Dave Hanson of the Johnstown Jets. No superstar, Gilles did help out offensively with 25 points on eight goals and 17 assists. In his five playoff games, he assisted on one and sat 46 minutes.

Bilodeau’s lack of regular season games was due to the fact he played 14 games in the World Hockey Association with the Toronto Toros. 1975-76 was his first year of pro hockey and his only year in the NAHL. Gilles was a product of the Sorel Eperviers, a QMJHL team he played for in 1974-75.

Gilles played 143 games in the WHA with the Toros, Birmingham Bulls and Quebec Nordiques. He even got a cup of coffee in the NHL, appearing in nine games with the Nordiques during the 1979-80 season.

Rick Dorman – Erie Blades/Johnstown Jets

Rick Dorman was the final PIM leader in NAHL history and also the leader with the lowest total. Over 61 games, Dorman sat just 238 penalty minutes, just six more that second place Paul Stewart of the Binghamton Dusters.

In his first year of pro hockey after a junior career in the WCHL where he played for the Flin Flon Bombers and Winnipeg Clubs, Rick put up great offensive numbers, as well, with 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points. In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, he added four assists and 48 PIM over nine games. Dorman went on to play minor pro until the 1984-85 season in the IHL and AHL.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nick Polano in the NAHL: End of a Player. Start of a Coach

nick polano philadelphia blazers world hockey association
Nick Polano played just a small amount of games in the North American Hockey League but was a head coach for two full seasons. The man that would become head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for three years in the 1980’s finished his playing career and started his coaching career in the NAHL.

Nick Polano – NAHL

Polano played 19 regular season games for the Cape Cod Cubs during the inaugural 1973-74 NAHL season. The defenseman scored one goal and assisted on five. He also acted as head coach, replacing Bronco Horvath midseason.

In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Cape Cod was bounced in six by the Long Island Cougars in the semi-finals. Nick played eight playoff games with just an assist to show for his efforts.

After a year away from the league, Polano returned as head coach of the Erie Blades for the 1975-76 NAHL season. The Blades placed third in the five team West Division during the regular season. In the playoffs, Erie fell in the opening round to the Philadelphia Firebirds. The series went the full five games with the Firebirds winning three games to two. At one point, the Blades had a 2-1 series lead.

Polano returned to Erie for 1976-77, the final season of the NAHL. The Blades finished fifth in the eight team league. Erie then advanced to the semi-finals before losing to the Syracuse Blazers, four games to one.

Nick Polano – Pro Hockey

After two years of junior hockey, 1958-59 and 1959-60, with the Hamilton Tiger Cubs of the Ontario Hockey Association (Currently the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League), Polano moved on to a lengthy career in pro hockey. He never played in the National Hockey League but Nick was found everywhere else, including the IHL, EPHL, WHL, AHL, CPHL, WHA and NAHL.

His pro career started in 1959-60 when he split his final year of junior between the Tiger Cubs and the Louisville Rebels of the IHL. It ended with the Cape Cod Cubs in 1973-74.

Never a champion, he came close to Calder Cup victories in the American Hockey League twice. In 1966-67 with the Baltimore Clippers, Polano reached the AHL semi-finals before being ousted by the Rochester Americans. In 1970-71, as a member of the Providence Reds, Nick got a taste of the finals when the Reds faced off against the Springfield Kings for the Calder Cup. Springfield easily handled Providence with a four game sweep.

His only major league action came in 1972-73. As a member of the star-studded and underachieving Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association, Polano played 17 games on the point, contributing three assists.

Nick Polano – Coach

Polano carried on with the Erie Blades after the NAHL ceased to exist. He coached the Blades in the NEHL and EHL from 1978-79 to 1980-81.

In 1981-82, his NHL career was finally under way. He took an assistant coach job with the Buffalo Sabres under head coach Scotty Bowman. In his only year with the Sabres, Buffalo lost in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, 3-1 to the Boston Bruins.

The following year, he took the head coaching job with the Detroit Red Wings. He remained behind the bench in Detroit for three years from 1982-83 to 1984-85. In the first year, the Wings did not qualify for the post season. In 1983-84, Steve Yzerman’s rookie year with the club, Detroit made the post season but lost in the opening round to the St. Louis Blues, three games to one.

In his final year as a head coach in the National Hockey League, Polano once again led his team into the post season, despite a not so special regular season record. The 1984-85 Red Wings met the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and were soundly thrashed. In the three game sweep, the Blackhawks outscored the Red Wings 23-8 on victories of 9-5, 6-1 and 8-2.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nick Fotiu: 1st Year Pro With the Cape Cod Cubs

1977-78 o-pee-chee hockey card nick fotiu new york rangers
Nick Fotiu is among the top 100 New York Rangers of all time but probably not for his hockey skills. Fotiu was a fan favourite for being the first Staten Island born player to play for the Rangers and for his love of the fans in the cheap seats.


It all began for Fotiu in the North American Hockey League. Nick played 72 of 74 regular season games for the Cape Cod Cubs in the NAHL’s inaugural season, 1973-74, his first year of pro hockey. He put up decent offensive numbers with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. However, his claim to fame was leading the league in penalty minutes with 371, 55 more than second place Dave Ferguson of the Syracuse Blazers.

In that first year in the NAHL, Fotiu played 13 games in the playoffs, scoring four games and adding seven assists while sitting 80 minutes in the sin bin. The Cubs reached the semi-finals before falling to the Long Island Cougars four games to two.

In 1974-75, Nick started his season with the Cape Codders but was called up to the World Hockey Association after five games. In those five, it looks as though Fotiu was being used for his offensive abilities just as much as his toughness with three points and a relatively mild 13 minutes in penalties.


Nick played 110 regular season games in the World Hockey Association between 1974-75 and 1975-76 with the New England Whalers. In 1975-76, he sat 94 PIM over 49 regular season games and 57 in just 16 playoff games. The Whalers reached the WHA semi-finals before the Houston Aeros eliminated New England 4-3.

Fotiu played 646 regular season games in the National Hockey League from 1976-77 to 1988-89 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Over that time, he spent 1,362 minutes in the box. Most of his career was spent with the Rangers. The Whalers selected him in the 1979 expansion draft when they entered the NHL but traded him back to the Rangers in January, 1981.

His professional hockey career ended with a partial season in the American Hockey League in 1989-90 with the New Haven Nighthawks.

Coaching Career

Nick coached in the ECHL for five years. He was head coach of the Nashville Knights in 1992-93 and 1993-94, reaching the post season both years. He was head of the Johnstown Chiefs for three seasons from 1995-96 to 1997-98. In the final year with the Chiefs, he was replaced 30 games into the season.