Monday, January 28, 2013

1943-44 United States Coast Guard Cutters Ken Lundberg Jersey

While it can be traced back to 1790 as a part of the United States Treasury, the Revenue Cutter Service was merged with the United States Life-Saving Service on this date in 1915, which formally established the United States Coast Guard.

US Coast Guard 43-44 crest, US Coast Guard 43-44 crest

Shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the United States Coast Guard Cutters hockey team was formed by Personnel Officer C. R. MacLean, a former player and hockey fan. The team was based in Curtis Bay, Maryland and played out of the Carlin's Iceland rink in Baltimore.

Cutters Program, Cutters Program

MacLean encouraged enlisting hockey players to choose the Coast Guard, and the team was became comprised of both amateur and professional players, including a one-time captain of the NHL's New York Rangers.

The Cutters played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, considered one of the most competitive leagues of it's time, during the 1942-43 season. They dominated the league with a 32-13-1 record, winning the league regular season title by 15 points and led the league in goals with 223, 26 more than the New York Rovers.

Joe Kucler led the league in not only goals, with 40, but also assists with 41 to easily win the scoring title with 81 points in only 44 games played.

1942-43 Coast Guard Cutters team, 1942-43 Coast Guard Cutters team
The 1942-43 Coast Guard Cutters

In their star-spangled sweaters, the Cutters were a unique draw, as wherever they played, they were accompanied by a 30-piece marching band, which created a buzz in the arena every time.

"Whenever we scored," said Mike Nardell, "they'd strike up Semper Paratus ("Always Ready"), the Coast Guard marching song.  I loved that team so much I never wanted to take off my equipment.  Years later, when I played pro for the Clinton (N.Y.) Comets, I'd always wear my Coast Guard jersey under my Comets uniform."

The most notable player on the Cutters was eventual Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Brimsek, who had recently backstopped the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup championships in 1939 and 1941.

Brimsek Coast Guard Pictures, Images and Photos
Frank Brimsek

Other notable members of the Cutters were Art Coulter, an 11 year NHL veteran and former captain of the New York Rangers,  former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Alex Motter and the notoriously rugged John Mariucci from the Chicago Black Hawks.

Mariucci Cutters, Mariucci Cutters
John Mariucci

The Cutters were so strong that they were able to win the National Senior Open Championship of the Amateur Hockey Association in their first season of 1942-43 behind the coaching of former NHL referee Mel Harwood.

"Harwood was an excellent coach," said team member Manny Cotlow. "He certainly had the respect of the players. He was good to us and the players paid him back. Harwood got the most out of us."

Exhibition games were also a part of the Cutters schedule, particularly during their second season after they withdrew from the EHL in late November. Some of their most memorable game came against similar teams from the Canadian armed services, which included a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Commandos, which featured three ex-NHLers of their own.

Another memorable game took place on January 6, 1944 when the Cutters hosted the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings at Carlin's Iceland. The Cutters trailed just 4-3 in the third period before Detroit pulled away for an 8-3 win.

Cutters program, Cutters program

The Coast Guard club was quite popular in Boston and New York, where they regularly drew crowds of over 12,000 fans before questions about why they were still playing hockey while others were begin sent overseas to fight led to enough pressure to force the team to disband, but not before winning their second consecutive National Senior Open Championship in 1944.

1943-44 Coast Guard Cutters team, 1943-44 Coast Guard Cutters team
The 1943-44 Coast Guard Cutters

Today's featured jersey is a 1943-44 United States Coast Guard Cutters Ken Lundberg jersey.

This highly attractive star-spangled jersey features a large, detailed chenille crest and numerous stars, all individually sewn on, making for one very striking sweater which had an all-too-short life span.

US Coast Guard 43-44 jersey, US Coast Guard 43-44 jersey
US Coast Guard 43-44 jersey, US Coast Guard 43-44 jersey

Lundberg Cutters, Lundberg Cutters
Ken Lundberg

Today's video section is Semper Paratus, the Coast Guard marching song played by the band which accompanied the Cutters hockey team to their games. Think of it like the Hartford Whalers "Brass Bonanza", only decades ahead of it's time!

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