Saturday, July 26, 2014
July by the Numbers travels to the Great Lakes area for jersey #26.
Founded for the International Hockey League's 1974-75 season, the Kalamazoo Wings rose from 10th out of 11 teams in their first win to second out of nine by year three thanks in no small part to having the top two and three of the top five leaders in penalty minutes.
After two semifinal losses in 1976-77 and 1977-78, the Wings had a solid season with a 40-28-12 record for the fourth best record in the IHL. The Wings then went on a roll, sweeping their first two playoff series to advance to the finals, where they alternated wins at home with the Grand Rapids Owls until taking Game 7 on the road 5-2 to claim their first Turner Cup championship. Tom Ross led the team in scoring with 116 points which was second overall in IHL scoring.
Carrying the confidence of their championship into the 1979-80 season, Kalamazoo finished first overall in the IHL that season with a 45-26-9 record, led in scoring this time by Tom Milani at 49 goals and 111 points with Ross second at 103. The Wings repeated as Turner Cup champions after defeating the Fort Wayne Komets in six games in the finals.
The Wings simply blitzed the league in 1980-81 with a 52-20-10 record for a franchise best 114 points, but their bid for a hat trick of titles fell short with a loss in the finals.
Brent Jarrett became the first Wing to win the scoring title when he totaled 124 points in 1981-82 and Dave Michayluk led "the I" in goals with 66 in 1984-85.
After having been affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings since the beginning, and wearing red, white and blue, a new affiliation with the Minnesota North Stars saw the club change to the North Stars colors of green, gold and black. Their arrangement with the North Stars brought little in the way of notoriety however, although they did manage to make the playoffs in all but one season, including two seasons with over 100 points.
They retained their affiliation with the Stars organization when Minnesota relocated to Dallas for the 1993-94 season and immediately Rob Brown simply ran away and hid in the scoring race, amassing 155 points, 39 points clear of his next closest pursuer - and exactly one game with the Stars that season.
After one more season as the Kalamazoo Wings, the club changed it's name to the Michigan K-Wings for the 1995-96 season hoping to draw a wider audience to the club. That season saw Jamie Langenbrunner spend the season with the K-Wings and finish second in team scoring before beginning his long NHL career.
The 1998-99 season saw the arrival of goaltender Marty Turco from the University of Michigan, who immediately became the team's starter and seeing action in 54 games his first season and 60 his second, which would prove to be the final season for the franchise, as Dallas ended their affiliation agreement and the franchise requested inactive status from the IHL, a league that would only last one additional season itself.
There is a franchise which currently uses the name Kalamazoo Wings as members of the ECHL, which began life in Madison, Wisconsin in the United Hockey League before relocating to Kalamazoo and obtaining the rights to use the name and logo of the original Wings.
Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Kalamazoo Wings Kevin Schamehorn jersey from their days as a Minnesota North Stars affiliate when the club wore the green and gold of the North Stars.
Schamehorn had a long history with the Kalamazoo Wings, playing for the club during eight different seasons spread out over 14 years. After being drafted by the Red Wings in 1976, he played three seasons in Kalamazoo before moving on to other clubs and organizations. He returned to Kalamazoo in 1981 for four seasons prior to the change in affiliation to Minnesota. Again, Schamehorn moved on to other teams for four seasons, which included a year in France, before returning to Kalamazoo for his final season as a pro. During his absence, the Wings changed their affiliation from Detroit to Minnesota, which resulted in the change in team colors, allowing us to accurately date this green and gold Wings jersey to 1989-90.
This example illustrates the detective work involved in dating jerseys we enjoy so much when researching various jerseys, particularly minor league jerseys which lack comprehensive online visual databases that document each and every jersey style and years worn, unlike the NHL.