Tuesday, January 12, 2016

1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Dennis Sobchuk Jersey

After first playing 8 games for the Estevan Bruins of the Western Canadian Hockey League in 1970-71, scoring just one goal and one assist, Dennis Sobchuk, born on this date in 1954, joined the Regina Pats for the 1971-72 season and immediately led the team in scoring with 56 goals and 123 points, over 40 more than his closest teammate on his way to Rookie of the Year honors.

He would play two more seasons for the Pats, leading the club in scoring both seasons with first 67 goals and 147 points in 1972-73 and with 68 goals and 146 points in 1973-74, both times averaging a goal per game while also playing a strong defensive game. He also showed he was able to stand up to any challenge with 128 penalty minutes in 1972-73 on his way to becoming WCHL Player of the Year. He concluded his junior career in fine style, helping Regina win the 1974 Memorial Cup with 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 16 playoff games.

 photo 1973-1974 REGINA PATS MEMORIAL CUP TEAM.jpg
The Memorial Cup champion 1973-74 Regina Pats

While Sobchuk was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, players in the 1970's had options unknown to players prior to 1972, as the World Hockey Association arrived to challenge the NHL. Sobchuk signed with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA, no doubt influenced by the fact his brother was also signed by the Stingers and his father was a scout for the team. But in an unusual situation one could only expect to find in the crazy WHA, the Stingers had been granted a franchise, but their eventual home arena, the Riverfront Colosseum, was still under construction meaning the team would not begin play until the 1975-76 season!

Rather than let Sobchuk sit idle, he was loaned by the Stingers to the Phoenix Roadrunners for the 1974-75 season. He wasted no time adapting to the professional game, leading Phoenix in scoring with 32 goals and 77 points in 78 games.

Sobchuk Roadrunners photo Sobchuk Roadrunners.jpg
Sobchuk spent the 1974-75 season on loan to the Roadrunners

With the Stingers now ready to take to the ice for the 1975-76 season, Sobchuk was recalled by Cincinnati, along with teammates John Hughes and his brother Gene Sobchuk. In 1976-77, he came third in team scoring with 32 goals and 72 points in 79 games. Despite raising his point totals to 44 goals and 96 points, both by far professional career highs, he again finished third in team scoring in the wide open WHA to Rich Leduc (107 points) and Blaine Stoughton (104). In one memorable day, Sobchuck and the Stingers were scheduled to play the Minnesota Fighting Saints, only the Houston Aeros came out to face them because Minnesota had folded that day!

 photo Sobchuk Stingers 1.jpg
Sobchuk enjoyed the best years of his career with the Stingers

Injuries began to take their toll on Sobchuk in the 1977-78 season, as he managed to play 23 games with the Stingers, scoring only 5 goals and 14 points before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers in a cost cutting move in December of 1977. Sobchuk would only manage to play in 13 games for the Oilers, scoring 6 goals and 9 points, before a devastating shoulder separation that would affect him for the rest of his career that curtailed his season after just 36 games and would lead to two more separations later in his career.

Sobchuk would spend the entire 1978-79 season with the Oilers, playing in 74 games with a partial return to his scoring ways with 26 goals and 63 points in what would prove to be the final season for the WHA.

 photo Sobchuk Oilers program 1975.jpg
Sobchuk on the cover of an Edmonton Oilers program

Under the highly restrictive terms of the agreement that allowed four WHA clubs to join the NHL for the 1979-80 season, Sobchuk's rights were reclaimed by the Flyers, who had drafted him five years earlier. Philadelphia then traded Sobchuk's rights to the Detroit Red Wings.

Sobchuk failed to produce for Detroit, 4 goals and 10 points in 33 games, and was sent to their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Red Wings, for the rest of the season.

The remainder of his career was an odd meandering path through the world of professional hockey, as he played 5 games for the Birmingham Bulls of the minor Central Hockey League and 19 games for EV Zug of the Swiss second division, scoring 24 goals.

He spent the entire 1981-82 season with Innsbruck EV in the top Austrian league. He returned to North America for the 1982-83 season, splitting his time between the Moncton Alpines of the AHL (20 games, 17 points), the Fredericton Express, also of the AHL (9 games, 12 points) and made a brief return to the NHL when he suited up for a pair of games for the Quebec Nordiques, scoring a lone goal.

Sobchuk returned to Innsbruck in Austria for the 1983-84 season, his last as a player. During his two seasons in Austria, Sobchuk totaled 42 goals and 95 points in 51 games.

Following his career, his 416 points in three seasons for Regina, which included leading the team in scoring all three seasons and winning a Memorial Cup, led to him having his #14 retired by the Pats, one of only six numbers retired by the club.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Dennis Sobchuk jersey as worn during Sobchuk's career year of 44 goals and 96 points. The Stingers wore the same jerseys for their entire four years of play, with the only change worth mentioning being changing from two color names for their first two seasons to one color black names for their final two.

Cincinnati Stingers 1977-78 jersey photo Cincinnati Stingers 1977-78 FB jersey.jpg
Cincinnati Stingers 1977-78 jersey photo Cincinnati Stingers 1977-78 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1977 WHA All-Star Game Dennis Sobchuk jersey as worn during the 1977 edition held in Hartford, Connecticut when the East beat the West 4-2 with Sobchuk on the winning East side.

WHA 1977 All-Star jersey photo WHA 1977 All-Star F jersey.jpg
WHA 1977 All-Star jersey photo WHA 1977 All-Star B jersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1983-84 Innsbruck EV Dennis Sobchuk jersey as worn during the latter stages of Sobchuk's career, which also turned out to be the final season of the Innsbruck EV franchise, which dated back to it's formation in 1925.

This jersey is typical of European jerseys of the era, with it's (difficult to see) adidas three stripes down the arms, large sponsorship logo on the front (from Raiffeisen Bank) and the cresting, name and numbers all made of a felt material including the very European block, drop-shadowed numbers, which remained in style through 1995.

 photo Innsburcker EV 1983-84 F jersey.jpg
Innsburcker EV 1983-84 jersey photo Innsburcker EV 1983-84 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section is footage of the Stingers taking on the Indianapolis Racers.

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