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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1943-44 United States Coast Guard Cutters Mike Nardello jersey. Nardello, a winger, played for the Cutters for both of their seasons before attending St. Lawrence University for three seasons followed by five years with the Clinton Comets in the New York - Ontario Hockey League.
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!