Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Born into a hockey family, Pete LoPresti was the son of former NHL goaltender Sam LoPresti. Pete attended the University of Denver in 1972-73, getting into four games before becoming their starter in 1973-74 when his workload increased to 38 games, winning 22.
He turned pro the following season with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, playing in 11 games prior to making his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars, where he split time with incumbent Cesare Maniago. It was a baptism by fire, as the North Stars were at a low point in their history, finishing below 70 points for the second of six consecutive seasons, all while trying to fend off competition from the cross-town WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints. LoPresti ended his rookie season with a 9-20-3 record in 35 games, essentially the same as veteran Maniago.
His second season with the North Stars was equally as trying, as he finished 7-22-1. With Minnesota failing to qualify for the playoffs, LoPresti was tabbed to join the United States for the 1976 World Championships in Poland. There, the US finished 3-3-1 in the First Round, thanks to wins over Sweden, Poland and West Germany and a tie with Finland. That was good enough for fourth place out of eight and a spot in the Final Round, eventually finishing fourth.
Before the next NHL season could begin, a new competition made it's debut and LoPresti was again called upon by the United States, along side fellow Minnesotan Mike Curran, to take part in the 1976 Canada Cup, which hoped to capitalize on the success of the 1972 Summit Series.
For the 1976-77 season, Maniago was gone, and in his place arrived new goaltending partner Gary Smith. The North Stars improved from 47 to 64 points in the standings, which allowed LoPresti to set a career high with 13 wins in 44 games. The North Stars qualified for the playoffs for the only time during his tenure with the team, but were quickly ousted in two games.
He would attain clear #1 status for the 1922-78 season, playing in 53 games with now Paul Harrison backing him up, but the unsettled North Stars would go through a series of three head coaches while stumbling to a last place finish as LoPresti won 12 times.
With the North Stars again missing out on the playoffs, he was off to Czechoslovakia for the 1978 World Championships. LoPresti started nine of ten games for the Americans, including wins over East Germany and Finland.
Huge changes were in store for the North Stars in 1978-79, who had now added several top draft picks as well as the unprecedented merger with the Cleveland Barons, which saw the arrival of established number one goaltender Gilles Meloche and his Barons backup and 10-year veteran Gary Edwards, which not only limited LoPresti to just 7 starts, but also relegated him to the minors with the Oklahoma City Stars for the bulk of the season, where his winning record of 16-15 was his first since college.
He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1979 Expansion Draft, but when he failed to make the Oilers roster following training camp, he retired but returned for the 1980-81 season, playing in 2 games for the Oilers as part of their revolving door in goal, which saw Andy Moog (7 games), former North Stars teammate Edwards (15), Ron Low (24) and Eddie Mio (43) all see time goal.
The majority of his season was spent playing 36 games for the Wichita Wind in the Central Hockey League before retiring for good after a career unfortunately saddled with bad luck, including once having an easy save bust through his goalie stick and into the net for the game winning goal, and bad timing, having been on some very dismal teams during his six years in the NHL and failing to stick with the Oilers, who were on the verge of a dynasty.
Today's featured jersey is a 1976 United States National Team Pete LoPresti jersey as created for the 1976 Canada Cup. This amazing jersey with it's fully chain stitched crest and sewn on names, numbers and shoulder stars was actually only used in the pre-tournament games by the Americans, as the players complaints about the weight of he heavy dureen fabric and how hot the sweaters were, especially in the late summer heat of late August, led to the USA wearing mesh jerseys with screened on graphics for the actual tournament games, a far cry from the outstanding workmanship which went into today's featured jersey.
This would be the only appearance of this style jersey, as the Americans reverted back to their standard jerseys for the 1977 World Championships.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1976 United States National Team Pete LoPresti jersey as worn during the 1976 World Championships in the spring prior to the 1976 Canada Cup. This style was a carry over in look of the United States jerseys which date back to the late 1960's, illustrating what a radical design today's featured 1976 Canada Cup jersey was, obviously inspired by the nation's Bicentennial celebrations, which had occupied the minds of all Americans that year.
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Today's video selection is the United States taking on Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup with LoPresti in goal while wearing today's featured style jersey.