Thursday, July 29, 2010
July by the Numbers once more crosses the continent, this time to California for jersey #29.
The Long Beach Ice Dogs came to be when the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Ice Dogs after five years in San Diego where they made the Turner Cup Finals once following a stellar 62-12-8 regular season record.
After one season playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, the club moved 22 miles south to the Long Beach Sports Arena and altered their name to the Long Beach Ice Dogs. After missing the playoffs their previous season up the road in Los Angeles, the Ice Dogs had a great debut season in Long Beach, going 54-19-9 in the regular season led by Patrik Augusta's 87 points in 82 games and Stephane Morin's 82 points in 65 games after arriving from the Manitoba Moose.
In the playoffs the Ice Dogs defeated Milwaukee in three straight and sweeping the Utah Grizzlies in four. After knocking out the Houston Aeros in five, the Ice Dogs advanced to the finals where they faced the Detroit Vipers, who downed Long Beach in six games.
Their next regular season was a near carbon copy of the previous one when they posted a 53-20 -9 record to again win their division. Augusta again led the club with 41 goals and 81 points followed by Dan Lambert's 78 points. Their quest for the Turner Cup started out well with a defeat of Las Vegas 3-1 before outlasting Kansas City by winning in overtime of Game 7 as the teams alternated victories throughout the series. The Ice Dogs run came to an end when they lost out to the eventual champion Chicago Wolves in six games.
Augusta once more led the team in scoring in 1998-99 with 59 points, his drop in points due to being limited to 68 games that season. Long Beach advance past the first round of the playoffs by knocking out Kansas City once again 2-1 but had their season ended by division champion Houston Aeros in five games.
The Ice Dogs final season in the IHL saw them led in scoring by Pavel Rosa with 53 points with future Stanley Cup winner Nikolai Khabibulin getting the majority of starts in goal. In 33 starts he went 21-11-1 with an excellent goals against average of 1.83. In the playoffs Long Beach quickly eliminated Manitoba 2-0 but were swept by Chicago in four to end their time in the IHL.
It was at this point that the team owner withdrew the club from the IHL and dropped the club down to the West Coast Hockey League for the 2000-01 season, where they played three seasons before entering the East Coast Hockey League following the demise of the WCHL.
The Ice Dogs completed in the ECHL for another four seasons before ownership shut down the club due to ongoing financial losses due to poor attendance after 17 seasons, three cities and three different leagues, somewhat representative of life in the often unsettled and unstable minor leagues.
Notable players to have skated for the Ice Dogs include goalies Manny Legace, Khabibulin and Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Jaroslav Modry.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Long Beach Ice Dogs Steve Finn jersey. This jersey is a prime example of the humor found in some minor league jerseys allowed by the dye-sublimation process. The clever dog chain across the bottom in place of a traditional stripe is a fun and effective way to gain attention and establish the team's visual identity on the ice.
The sleeves are less successful though, with the intent being that the white of the jersey has been torn away to reveal not the players arms, but the front legs of a bulldog, which just comes across as silly and not very well executed, as the legs on the front and the paws on the back of the arms are rendered so flatly and without much detail.
A wraparound "3-D" effort may have been more effective, but would have been better executed if the legs would have had a printed fur pattern and the sleeve color outside the arms being black or dark blue in order to be a different, more contrasting color than the dogs legs themselves.
We can see what they were trying to attempt, but it's execution was not very effective in action and they may have just been better off repeating the chain motif around the wrists for a less silly, more dignified look.
While this video isn't admittedly the greatest quality, you can see the torn sleeves effect, but just try to find the rendering of the legs and paws on the jerseys.