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Saturday, July 10, 2010

1999 Mystery Alaska John Biebe Jersey

July by the Numbers settles down with some popcorn and a movie for jersey #10.

Released in 1999, Mystery, Alaska tells the story about the small town of Mystery located in the far reaches of Alaska.

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When their weekly Saturday pickup hockey game is glorified by a cover story in Sports Illustrated (by a former town resident), the magazine article gives birth to the idea of the town hosting an exhibition game against the NHL's New York Rangers in a nationally televised event.

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Just prior to the announcement of the challenge from the Rangers, town Sheriff John Biebe (portrayed by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe), a 13-year veteran of the Saturday Game, is cut from the squad in favor of teenager Stevie Weeks. who looks remarkably like a certain Sidney Crosby.

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Weeks and Biebe
 (nice touch having Weeks wearing an Alaska Anchorage Seawolves t-shirt)

With the planned arrival of the Rangers, and big city values, the townsfolk begin to stress over the event and relationships become strained as the pressure mounts. Additionally, their planned game of "pond hockey" evolves into a standard game with boards and blue lines, which turn the rules back in favor of the NHL's Rangers.

Now off the team, Biebe is originally asked to coach the team, but when town Judge Walter Burns (the legendary Burt Reynolds) becomes the coach, he immediately reinstates Biebe to the squad and installs him as captain.

Crowe and Reynolds photo CroweandReynolds.jpg
Sheriff Biebe and Judge Burns

With the day of the game now upon them, the team hits the ice decked out in gorgeous new jerseys never seen before in the movie.

Mystery Alaska

After going up 2-0 after one period, the Rangers come storming back in the second to take a 5-2 lead heading into the third. The team from Mystery regroups and fights back to within 5-4, only to hit the crossbar with their goalie pulled to come within an eyelash of tying the club from the NHL, earning the respect of the Rangers and the town.

In fact, the Rangers were so impressed that two of the players from Mystery actually get tryouts with a Rangers minor league affiliate, which means with those players leaving town, Biebe is now back as a member of the Saturday Game.

Mystery Alaska

Today's featured jersey is a 1999 Mystery Alaska John Biebe jersey. The color of buckskin with a leather lace-up collar, the jerseys feature a simple "M" logo and all the graphics done in black with cream trim, the jerseys are perhaps the finest ever in a hockey movie, as they capture the feeling and spirit of the wild Alaskan landscape in which the town's pond rests.

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Today's video section begins with the trailer for Mystery, Alaska.

Next up the Saturday Game, which put the town on the map.

Finally, the boys from Mystery face off against the New York Rangers while wearing their new team jerseys.

Friday, July 9, 2010

1992-93 University of Maine Black Bears Paul Kariya Jersey

July by the Numbers takes us back to school with jersey #9.

The University of Maine hockey program was founded in 1977 and joined the Division II Eastern College Athletic Conference and the conference was upgraded to Division I in 1979. The Black Bears remained in the ECAC through the 1983-84 season before leaving to join the newly formed Hockey East conference.

Hockey East was formed in response to the fear that the Ivy League schools in the ECAC would leave that conference to form their own new league, which it turned out never came to pass.

With traditional college hockey powers Boston College, Boston University and Providence in the league, Hockey East gained immediate respectability and began it's first season with seven member clubs, which included the Black Bears.

It was tough going for Maine that first season in Hockey East, finishing a distant last with a 2-26-0 record under new coach Shawn Walsh. 1986-87 saw improvement with their first winning record in Hockey East, a 19-12-1 mark, good for third in the league followed by a stellar 20-4-2 record to win the league's regular season title in 1987-88 and made it to the national semifinals. While they placed second in the 1988-89 regular season, Maine captured it's first Hockey East playoff championship that season and again advanced to the Frozen Four.

The team remained a strong contender, with second place finishes the following two seasons, which included another Frozen Four appearance in 1991 before again winning both the Hockey East regular season and playoff championship in 1991-92 behind Hobey Baker Award winner Scott Pellerin.

The arrival of Canadian Paul Kariya from Vancouver and the goaltending duo of Garth Snow (21-0-1) and Mike Dunham (21-1-1) led the Black Bears to a memorable season. Kariya became the first freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award following his 33 goals and 91 assists for 124 points in just 51 games as Maine destroyed all before them, going 42-1-2, (with their only loss coming in overtime) winning the Hockey East regular season and playoff championship, as well as taking the first NCAA national championship in school and Hockey East history after staging a come from behind win after entering the third period trailing the defending champion Lake Superior State Lakers 4-2 when Jim Montgomery scored a hat trick, all on assists from Kariya, to propel Maine to the title.

Kariya Maine
Paul Kariya of Maine

Following the 1992-93 championship, Maine win the Hockey East regular season title in 1995, the conference playoff title in 2000 and 2004 and made it to the national championship final again in 1995 against Hockey East rival Boston University, won their second championship in 1999 (captained by Paul Kariya's brother Steve Kariya) and again reached the championship final in 2002 and 2004 in seven Frozen Four appearances.

Hockey East members have won the national championship a total of seven times, two by Maine in 1993 and 1999, two by Boston University in 1995 and 2009 and three by Boston College in 2001, 2008 and 2010, giving Hockey East, and the city of Boston, the last three in a row.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 University of Maine Black Bears Paul Kariya jersey. This jersey has to be one of the Holy Grails of college hockey jerseys. Not only is this University of Maine jersey one of the most gorgeous, traditional looking jerseys, but it was worn by a college hockey legend, Paul Kariya, a 15 year NHL veteran who is just 11 points shy of 1,000 for his professional career.

The classic matching "Northwestern" stripes on the waist and arms, as well as the colored shoulder yoke with white trim by all rights should be the standard template for all hockey teams. When done in it's two shades of blue with white trim, it only gets more attractive. Add in the collegiate script logo on the front and it's nothing short of perfection.

Maine Black Bears jersey

Today's video features players from the 1993 national championship team recalling the title game and their third period comeback.

Next, an interview with Jim Montgomery and Paul Kariya, who teamed up to capture the 1993 National Championship for Maine, the first for Hockey East.

Finally, a look at the ridiculous skills Kariya possessed in college.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

1974-75 Michigan Stags Dan Gruen Jersey

July by the Numbers continues with jersey #8 from the Michigan Stags.

The Los Angeles Sharks were one of the original WHA clubs, formed in 1972. Following their second season, they were sold to new owners, who relocated the team to Detroit and renamed them the Michigan Stags. They were hoping to take advantage of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings current losing ways and develop a rivalry with the Toronto Toros.

Gary Desjardins Stags,Gary Desjardins Stags
Gary Desjardins in net for the Stags

Keeping the red and black color scheme of the Sharks and hoping to fill the Cobo Arena's 12,000 seats, things did not work out as planned. The Stags carried over the poor play on the ice of the last placed Sharks and could not secure a TV deal either. When attendance averaged 3,000 per game, the club ran into money problems which forced the trade of star Marc Tardif to the Quebec Nordiques in early December.

Six weeks later the Stags were no more, with the owners folding the team on January 19th after only 61 games, even before legendary Red Wing Gordie Howe could return to Detroit for a game.

With the league now as owners, a week later the team was resurrected and placed in Baltimore, now known as the Blades, where they finished the remaining 17 games of the schedule, going a dismal 3-13-1, prior to folding after the season.

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Michigan Stags Dan Gruen jersey. The Stags used the same basic jersey as their predecessor Sharks, only with a new, nicely executed logo, with the Stag's legs forming a subtle "M" for Michigan. While not the most dynamic logo ever, it was clean and graphic and has aged very well.

Michigan Stags jersey
Michigan Stags jersey

Today's audio file is some classic Stags radio play-by-play action from a game versus the New England Whalers in the 1974-75 season.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1990-91 Italy National Team Bob Manno Jersey

July by the Numbers crosses the Atlantic Ocean and heads to Italy for jersey #7.

Bob Manno, a defenseman, began his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks in 1976-77. He played with the Canucks for five seasons, splitting time between the NHL and CHL with a high of 52 games in 1978-79.

Bob Manno Canucks
Bob Manno while with the Canucks

He signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1981-82 and played in 72 games that season, scoring an NHL career high 50 points. He was rewarded by playing in the NHL All-Star Game appearance that season. Following the regular season, Manno made his debut for the Italy National Team at the 1982 World Championships.

This led to him playing a year with HC Merano in the Italian Serie A followed by another World Championship experience with Italy in 1983.

He returned to North America and the NHL for the next two seasons, splitting time between the Red Wings (62 games) and the AHL (12), followed by a full season with Detroit in 1984-85, his last in the NHL.

He returned to Italy and HC Merano for the 1985-86 season, racking up 106 points in 36 games for the high powered Eagles, who were led by one time New York Ranger Mark Morrison's 147 points and former Maple Leaf Frank Nigro's 132 as Merano won the championship for the first time in it's history.

With Italy now down in the B Pool, Manno returned to action in the World Championships for the third time. One more season with Merano followed with another appearance for Italy in the World Championships in 1987 before he moved to HC Fassa for 1987-88 and 1988-89. After missing the 1988 Worlds, he contributed 5 assists in 7 games for Italy in 1989, his best showing in the World Championships to date, recognized by being named Best Defenseman in the tournament.

1989-90 had Manno on the move to HC Milano Saim for three seasons, including a championship in 1991, his second in Serie A. He was also named Best Defenseman in Serie A that year. He also made his final two World Championship appearances in 1990 and 1991, when he raised his personal best to 7 points in 7 games in 1991.

Manno closed out his international career in style, competing in his first Olympics in Albertville, France in 1992, where he scored a goal and 2 assists in 7 games.

He wound up his professional career with two seasons playing for the HC Bolzano Foxes, which included another Serie A Best Defenseman award in 1992.

Following his playing career, he moved into coaching, first in Italy and later in the German DEL.

Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 Italy National Team Bob Manno jersey, one of the craziest national team jerseys ever produced.

The traditional approach begins at the shoulders with the white yoke and traditional Tackla diamond logos and the classic blue color of Italian National Team jerseys, but once one moves down to the ITALIA crest, tradition gets thrown out the window and the insanity begins with no less than 40 vertical stripes of varying widths and lengths on the body alone, interrupted on the front by five horizontal striping sections which create even more visual noise, bearing in mind that the Italian flag is comprised of vertical stripes!

If that weren't enough, the vertical striping frenzy continues on the sleeves, with 13 more stripes on each arm.

With just one jersey looking so incredibly busy sitting still, one can only imagine what five of them looked like on the ice, all in motion at the same time!

Truly one of the most visually jarring hockey jerseys in the history of the sport, and worn by someone who also had to wear the Canucks controversial "Flying V"!

1990-91 Italian National Team

Here is ERC Ingolstadt coach Bob Manno speaking in front of the press following a win after a game in Germany in early 2009. Fortunately for all involved he's dressed better than his old Italian National Team jersey.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

1972-73 Ottawa Nationals Brian Gibbons Jersey

July by the Numbers checks in at #6 today with a short-lived team from the World Hockey Association.

One of the founding members of the WHA, the Ottawa Nationals got off to a late start after adding a second owner in a better financial position than the original, but failed to come to obtain an agreement to play in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Management subsequently found their home in Ottawa where they played in the 10,000 seat Ottawa Civic Centre but averaged just 3,000 fans per game.

Due to their late start, the team was unable to secure any star players as several of the other clubs were able to do in order to attract the attention of the fans and media heading in to the WHA's debut season.

The team was led in scoring by former Maple Leaf, Bruin and Golden Seal Wayne Carleton, who led the team with 42 goals and 49 assists for 91 points in 75 games. No other player was able to reach 30 goals or 70 points. The Nationals goaltending duties was split between former Penguin Les Binkley and the quirky Gilles Gratton, who played in 51 of the team's games, going 25-22-3.

The Nationals finished in fourth place in the East Division with a slightly less than .500 record at 35-39-4, but qualified for the playoffs, where they would face the New England Whalers.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, the city of Ottawa demanded a $100,000 payment prior to the playoffs for the right to play in the arena through the end of the following season, which the club decided against paying. This led the team to once more look toward Toronto, where they struck a deal to play their playoff games at Maple Leaf Gardens, kicking off the seemingly endless WHA franchise relocation that would plague the league until the dreaded franchise demise became the norm beginning in 1976 when another Ottawa club, the Civics, became the first to fold completely.

Having lost their first two games 6-3 and 4-3 in Boston, the Nationals returned "home" to face the New England Whalers. They won Game 3 4-2, but lost Game 4 by a decisive 7-3 score while averaging 5,000 fans a game. The Whalers closed out the series with a 5-4 win back in Boston to end the Nationals season, and as it turned out, the Nationals themselves, as the team was sold following the season to John Bassett, who kept the team in Toronto beginning with the 1973-74 season and renamed them the Toros.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Ottawa Nationals Brian Gibbons jersey. This is a very attractive jersey for it's day and the addition of the extra blue stripe trimmed in white just under the shoulder yoke makes it very unique. We especially like the white name on the red nameplate placed directly on top of that stripe.

The team logo is also very bold and well executed, although we always felt it looked more like a corporate logo, for a railroad in particular, rather than a pro hockey team.

Still, a very nice jersey and one that lived an all too short life.

Ottawa Nationals jersey
Ottawa Nationals jersey

Here is a history of the formation of the WHA and some of the first players to join the upstart league.

Monday, July 5, 2010

1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Dave Inkpen Jersey

July by the Numbers checks in at #5 with a classic jersey from the World Hockey Association.

The Cincinnati Stingers were granted their franchise on May 6, 1973 but had to wait until their new home arena, the Riverfront Coliseum, was constructed before they could begin play in the 1975-76 season. The team took part in the WHA drafts while they waited for the arena to be ready, drafting Dean Talafous of Wisconsin with their first pick, and loaning out Dennis Sobchuk and John Hughes to the Phoenix Roadrunners to keep them active.

Once they had a completed home, they reclaimed their players and set out to fill their roster. They were led in scoring their first season by former Buffalo Sabre Rick Dudley, who led the team with 43 goals and 81 points in 74 games. They club finished with a respectable 35-44-1 record and only missed out on the playoffs by 2 points. Their 71 points were 12 more than the Edmonton Oilers, who somehow managed to qualify for the postseason thanks to a quirk in the always off-beat WHA!

Rich Leduc's 107 and Blaine Stoughton's 104 points led the Stinger attack in 1976-77 with Sobchuk right behind with 96 to place 7th, 9th and 10th in the WHA scoring race. Both Leduc and Stoughton netted 52 goals, fourth best in the league. The club finished in second place in the Eastern Conference with a team record 83 points, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That season also saw the debut of future coach and TV commentator Barry Melrose on defense. Following the season a proposed WHA merger with the NHL that would have included the Stingers was defeated by a single vote.

The 1977-78 season saw one of the more unusual jersey related occurrences in hockey history when Robbie Ftorek joined the club after the demise of the Roadrunners. Current team veteran Claude Larose had worn #8 for the past two seasons and Ftorek had also been wearing #8 as a tribute to former Boston Bruin Fleming Mackell. Neither wanted to relinquish their favorite number, so they had the team petition the league and permission was granted for both players to wear #8 during the season!

Ftorek went on to lead the club in scoring by a wide margin with 109 points, well clear of Dudley's 71. Ftorek's 59 goals were third overall in the WHA. In the standings, the Stingers finished seventh in the one-division now shrinking WHA, two points out of the playoffs.

Ftorek again led the team in points in 1978-79 with 116, while Peter Marsh was tops in goal scoring with 43. New, and notable additions to the Stingers roster included goalie Mike Liut, future 700 goal scorer Mike Gartner and eventual six-time Stanley Cup winner Mark Messier, who failed to impress with one goal in 47 games. Three seasons later he would score 50 for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

The Stingers were eliminated from the playoffs in Round 1, two games to one by the New England Whalers, but not before winning their one and only playoff game in team history 6-3 at home in Game 2.

Following the season, the WHA agreed to a one-sided merger plan with the NHL, which allowed Winnipeg, New England, Quebec and Edmonton to join the NHL as expansion franchises, while the owners of both Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls were given a cash payment of $3.15 million as a buy-out, putting an end to the Stingers franchise after just four years on the ice.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Dave Inkpen jersey. With the Stingers name lending itself to a multi-stripe theme, it's a wonder the Stingers jerseys were as reserved as they were.

The Stingers logo is a wonderful piece of graphic design and looks as modern today as it did when it was first conceived and has always been one of our favorites.

1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Jersey
1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Jersey

Our first video is a profile of former Stinger Blaine Stoughton.

Here is amateur footage of the minor league Cincinnati Clyclones playing while wearing Stingers throwback jerseys.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2002-03 Rochester Americans Rory Fitzpatrick Jersey

July by the Numbers reaches #4 with the most appropriate jersey possible.

The United States of America celebrates it's Independence Day on July 4th, marking the date in 1776 it declared it's independence from Great Britian when it adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The day is traditionally marked with parades, cookouts and picnics, pubic displays of the flag, carnivals and fairs, concerts, baseball games before the day concludes with fireworks celebrations all across the nation.


Massachusetts was the first state to recognize July 4th as a state celebration in 1781 and the first documented use of the phrase "Independence Day" dates back to 1791 and it became an official federal holiday in 1870.

The patriotically named Rochester Americans were founded in 1956, making them the second oldest franchise in the American Hockey League by far, with the third oldest still active team having been founded in 1992.

The Americans have made it to the Calder Cup Finals 16 times, having won the championship six times, first in a run of success that encompassed 1965, 1966 and 1968 as well as an appearance in the finals in 1967, the only team to reach the finals in four consecutive seasons. Other championship titles came in 1983, 1987 and most recently in 1996.

Well known players from the early days of the Rochester franchise include goalie Gerry Cheevers, future Islanders coach Al Arbour, Bruins coach and TV commentator Don Cherry, Jim Pappin and Mike Walton.

After a down period in the late 1960's under the ownership of the Vancouver Canucks, when the team finished last for four straight seasons, local owners purchased the club and installed the dynamic Cherry as coach and general manager, which paid dividends as the Americans finished with the best regular season record in 1973-74.

The Americans were later purchased by the owners of the Buffalo Sabres, which led to their becoming the Sabres AHL affiliate, a partnership which lasted from 1979 to 2008, the longest such partnership in AHL history at 29 years, which included three championships.

Two numbers have been retired by the team in honor of three players, the #6 for Red Armstrong and #9 for both Dick Gamble and Jody Gage, who broke Gamble's team scoring records.

Recognizable names to have played for the Americans include Maxim Afingenov, Donald Audette, Martin Biron, Brian Campell, Randy Cunneyworth, Benoit Houge, Ales Kotalik, Uwe Krupp, Mike Milbury, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Darren Puppa, Thomas Vanek and even Grant Fuhr.

Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 Rochester Americans Rory Fitzpatrick jersey. With it's red, white and blue color scheme, patriotic sheild logo and #4, we couldn't think of a more appropriate jersey for the Fourth of July, as it even features sponsorship from a local Chevrolet dealer. All you need while wearing this one would be for your mom to serve you some apple pie!

With it's shield crest, classic Northwestern striping pattern and shoulders decorated with basic stars, this jersey's understated elegance creates a timeless look often left behind in this modern age of excessive piping and gimmicky fonts. A true classic jersey in every sense.

Rochester Americans jersey
Rochester Americans jersey

Today's video section begins with Gage scoring his 14th goal of the playoffs in Game 7 of the 1987 Calder Cup Finals, leading to the Americans to their fifth Calder Cup championship.

Here is a further look at Jody Gage, an AHL MVP and member of the AHL Hall of Fame.


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