Showing posts with label erie blades. Show all posts
Showing posts with label erie blades. 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.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rick Dorman

rick dorman milwaukee admirals
Rick Dorman was, whether the league liked it or not, what the North American Hockey League was all about. He could score, 17 goals in his lone NAHL season, but it was his league leading 238 penalty minutes in 1976-77 that defined Dorman’s game. A junior with the Flin Flon Bombers, a team that Bobby Clarke made famous, Dorman played pro through the 1984-85 season but got his start in the NAHL.

Rick Dorman – NAHL

Rick played his first pro season, 1976-77, in the NAHL with the Johnstown Jets and Erie Blades. As it was the last season of the league’s existence, it was Dorman’s only year in the NAHL. He started out with the Jets but appeared in just nine games. His offensive numbers were decent with two goals and four assists for six points. Rick sat 44 PIM in those nine games.

Dorman moved on to the Erie Blades and played 52 regular season games with the club. He scored 15 and assisted on eleven for 26 points while sitting 194 minutes in penalties. The Nick Polano coached Blades reached the Lockhart Cup semi-finals before falling in five games to the Syracuse Blazers. In the playoffs, Rick added four assists over nine games and sat an additional 48 minutes in the box. It’s no surprise that he led Erie in PIM for both the regular season and playoffs.

Rick Dorman – WCHL

Dorman played two years in the WCHL (present day WHL), 1974-75 and 1975-76. In his first season, he played exclusively with the Flin Flon Bombers. Over 67 games, he scored 16 and assisted on 23 while sitting a whopping 442 minutes in penalties. He place second in the league to Jerry Rollins, a player that started out the season with the Bombers before moving to Winnipeg.

In his second season, Rick played a combined 60 regular season games with the Bombers and Winnipeg Clubs. He scored 11 and assisted on 23 with a total of 346 PIM. He placed second in the sin department again, this time to Ted Olson, a player that split his year between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Centennials.

He returned to the league in an executive capacity for a short time, about a decade ago. In August, 2003, Rick was named the General Manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. However, in October, 2004, before the 2004-05 season started, Dorman was let go by the club.

Rick Dorman – Pro Hockey

Rick played pro hockey from 1976-77 to 1984-85 in the NAHL, USHL, IHL and AHL. However, most of his time was spent in the IHL. In his second pro year and his first in the IHL, Dorman sat 475 PIM over 76 regular season games with the Dayton/Grand Rapids Owls. He finished second, behind Alvin White of the Kalamazoo Wings who amassed 510 penalty minutes.

1979-80 was Rick’s only full year in the American Hockey League and he made his mark. With the Binghamton Dusters, he placed fifth in the league for PIM with 267 over 77 games. The league leader that year was Chris Nilan of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs with 304 PIM.

Two years later, Dorman showed off his offensive abilities a bit with the Flint Generals of the IHL. Sure, he placed fifth in the league with 288 PIM but he also scored 15 and assisted on 42 for 57 points over 77 games.

In his final year of pro hockey, Rick still had it in him. With the Indianapolis Checkers of the IHL, he placed sixth in the league with 263 PIM over a full 80 game schedule.


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.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eddie Mio: 17 Games with the Erie Blades

eddie mio detroit red wings hockey card

Eddie Mio in the NAHL

Eddie Mio got his start in professional hockey with the Erie Blades of the North American Hockey League. Mio played 17 regular season games with the Blades during the 1976-77 season, the last year of the NAHL, recording a 3.27 goals against average. He also appeared in two Lockhart Cup playoff games as the Blades lost out in the opening round to the Philadelphia Firebirds, three games to one.

That season, Mio backed up Lynn Zimmerman, Erie’s main goalie for 1975-76 and 1976-77. Zimmerman played pro from 1966-67 to 1977-78 in a handful of leagues, including the EHL, AHL, CHL, WHL, NAHL and WHA. In the World Hockey Association, Lynn played for the Denver Spurs, Ottawa Civics and Houston Aeros.

Eddie Mio in Pro Hockey

During his four year stint at Colorado College from 1972-73 to 1975-76, both the WHA and National Hockey League came calling. Mio was taken in the seventh round of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, 124th overall, by the Chicago Black Hawks. That same year, he was also selected in the tenth round of the WHA Amateur Draft by the Vancouver Blazers, 138th overall.

Eddie played pro hockey from 1976-77 to 1985-86 on teams in the NAHL, WHA, AHL, CHL and NHL. He played in the World Hockey Association in 1977-78 and 1978-79 with the Indianapolis Racers and Edmonton Oilers. He followed the Oilers to the NHL after the demise of the WHA. Mio played in the NHL from 1979-80 to 1985-86 with the Oilers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

Mio was the number one goalie with the Oilers in 1980-81 and with the Rangers in 1982-83. In that 1980-81 season, Eddie was in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy with five assists – not bad for a goalie. In both 1981-82 and 1982-83, Mio saw the bulk of his Stanley Cup playoff action, appearing in eight games each year with the Rangers. Each year, New York made it out of the preliminary round but in each year they fell to the powerhouse New York Islanders in six games.

In a bit of useless hockey trivia, The Rangers traded Eddie to the Red Wings, along with Ron Duguay and Ed Johnstone for Mike Blaisdell, Willie Huber and Mark Osborne. In his final year of pro hockey, 1985-86, Mio played 18 games for the Red Wings and posted a dismal 6.32 goals against average.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Erie Blades

erie blades north american hockey league logo nahl
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.



Monday, May 6, 2013

Dave Staffen: NAHL Record for Most Goals in a Season

binghamton dusters north american hockey league

A website called the Encyclopedia of the North American Hockey League cannot be even close to complete without an article on the man with the record for most goals in a single season. Dave Staffen set that mark in the NAHL’s final season of existence, 1976-77, as a member of the Binghamton Dusters.

In tandem with Rod Bloomfield, who recorded 124 assists in 1976-77, Staffen put in an incredible 87 goals over 74 regular season games. Of course, he led the league in goals. With 40 helpers, his 127 points placed him tied for second in the league, behind Bloomfield’s 173.

Dave toned it down in the post season, scoring six goals and assisting on five over ten games. After finishing third overall in the eight team league, the Dusters were swept by the Maine Nordiques in the semi-finals.

The only other year Staffen played in the NAHL was 1975-76. He started the year with the Erie Blades and played 62 games with the club. His final ten games of the season were played with the Syracuse Blazers. Combined, he scored 41 goals and assisted on 27 for 66 points. His goal total played his tenth in the league.

In the 1975-76 post season, Dave scored eight goals in eight games for the Blazers with no assists and a hefty 41 minutes in penalties. Syracuse reached the semi-finals before being swept by the Beauce Jaros.

Junior Hockey

Staffen played three years in the Ontario Hockey Association from 1971-72 to 1973-74. After playing his first year exclusively with the Kitchener Rangers, Dave was traded to the Hamilton Red Wings during the 1972-73 season. The following year, Hamilton traded him mid-season to the Ottawa 67’s.

Pro Hockey

Staffen was drafted into both the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association. At the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, Dave was taken in the ninth round by the Minnesota North Stars, 148th overall. In the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft, it was the New England Whalers that selected him in the 13th round, 211th overall.

Dave played pro hockey from 1974-75 to 1977-78 in the IHL, NAHL and AHL. In his rookie year, split his season between the Lansing Lancers and Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL. He played a combined 74 games, scoring 37 goals and assisting on 27 for 64 points – decent numbers for a first year player.

When the NAHL shut down after the 1976-77 season, the Dusters moved to the American Hockey League. Staffen came with the team to the AHL for the 1977-78 season but played just three games, scoring one goal. He went on to finish the season in the OHA Senior circuit before retiring from the game.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Larry Mavety: NAHL Bridges the Gap Between Pro Player and OHL Head Coach

larry mavety chicago cougars wha hockey card
Larry Mavety played in the North American Hockey League for parts of three seasons from 1974-75 to 1976-77. The high scoring defenseman got around the league, playing for three different clubs over his three years, intermingled with play in the World Hockey Association.


Mavety played just four games in the NAHL during the 1974-75 season with the Long Island Cougars. He spent the bulk of his time with Chicago Cougars in the WHA. In 1975-76, he split his NAHL season between the Erie Blades and Binghamton Dusters. In his, and the league’s, final year, Larry played entirely for the Dusters. In 59 games on the blue line, he scored 16 goals and assisted on 51 for 67 points.

Pro Hockey

Larry Mavety played pro hockey from 1963-64 to 1976-77 in the IHL, WHL, WHA and NAHL. In his rookie year, 1963-64, with the Toledo Blades, he helped win the IHL championship. The Blades finished first out of the league’s seven teams during the regular season. In the post season, Toledo met the Fort Wayne Komets in the finals. Although the Komets outscored the Blades 26-24, Toledo won the series in six games.

Two years later, Mavety won another IHL championship, this time with the Port Huron Flags. During the regular season, Port Huron finished down in third place in the six team league. The Flags met the Dayton Gems in the finals and won four games to one.

Larry’s pinnacle season in the IHL came in 1966-67 when he was awarded the Governor’s Trophy on a less than stellar Port Huron Flags team. The Governor’s Trophy was handed out to the IHL’s top defenseman. Later is was renamed the Larry D. Gordon Trophy. Mavety finished the season with 25 goals and 48 assists for 73 points in 71 games. The Flags did not qualify for the post season, finishing fifth in the seven team league.

Although he never played in the National Hockey League, Mavety played 248 regular season games of major league hockey in the World Hockey Association between 1972-73 and 1976-77.  He did a bit of moving around, playing for the Los Angeles Sharks, Philadelphia Blazers, Chicago Cougars, Toronto Toros, Ottawa Civics and Indianapolis Racers. He played 18 playoff games in 1973-74 as the Chicago Cougars reached the Avco Cup finals before being swept by the Houston Aeros.

OHL Coach and Executive

In 1979-80, the OMJHL (now the Ontario Hockey League) expanded to include the Belleville Bulls. Larry Mavety was the franchise’s first head coach. He stood behind the bench in Belleville from 1979-80 to 1996-97, with exception of 1988-89 and 1989-90 when he moved down the road to Kingston. The Bulls achieved playoff success in 1985-86, reaching the Robertson Cup finals before bowing out to the Guelph Platers.

In 1997-98, Larry again made his move to Kingston, this time for good. He was head coach of the Kingston Frontenacs from 1997-98 to 2002-03 before moving to the head office. In 2007-08 and 2008-09, he returned to the bench on an interim basis. Mavety is currently a special advisor to the club.