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Saturday, April 13, 2013

The History of Hockey in Connecticut

With today's NCAA championship final taking place between Quinnipiac and Yale, located a mere seven miles apart in New Haven, Connecticut, we thought it would be an ideal time to take a look at the history of hockey in New Haven, and quite a history it is.

As we documented previously, the Yale University Bulldogs hockey program can be traced back to 1893. They joined their current conference, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) in 1961 and have won three ECAC regular season titles and two conference tournaments. They have made six NCAA appearances and are looking to win their first national championship tonight.

1951-52 Yale Bulldogs photo 1951-52YaleBulldogsteam.jpg

The earliest professional club to call Connecticut home were the New Haven Eagles of the Canadian-American Hockey League. They were founded along with the league in 1926 and immediately finished with the best record in the highly competitive CAHL with an 18-14 record. After 10 seasons as the CAHL, the league would evolve into the International-American Hockey League for four years before becoming the American Hockey League.

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The 1938-39 New Haven Eagles

The Eagles would operate continuously through the 1942-43 season before taking a two year-hiatus during World War II, but would return to action in 1945-46 as the Eagles, but would change their name for four seasons to the New Haven Ramblers. The Eagles name would return to the 1950-51 season, but the team would fold halfway through the schedule with a dismal 5-23 record.

The Eastern Amateur Hockey League (EAHL) has also had a number of teams based in Connecticut, beginning with a team also named the New Haven Eagles, who played one season (1943-44) while the AHL's Eagles were on hiatus during World War II. After the demise of the AHL's Eagles in 1951, a new EAHL team attempted to fill the void, but the New Haven Tomahawks also ended up being a one season only operation. Next to give it a go were the New Haven Nutmegs, who also were in operation for just a single season.

After the league did not operate in 1953-54, pro hockey returned to New Haven yet again, this time in the form of the New Haven Blades, also of the now renamed Eastern Hockey League (EHL). The Blades managed to succeed where the Eagles, Tomahawks and Nutmegs had failed, and not only lasted beyond one season, but won the league championship in only their second try in 1956, bringing Connecticut it's first championship in state history.

The Blades were a competitive operation, making the playoffs in 15 of their 18 seasons, including three additional appearances in the finals (1960, 1961 and 1971) before the league folded following the 1971-72 season.

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The New Haven Blades of 1965-66

On the collegiate level, the University of Connecticut Huskies began play at the Division II level in 1964. In 1998 the Huskies moved up to Division I and joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which became the Atlantic Hockey Association in 2003. UConn won the MAAC playoff championship in 2000 and has announced their move to Hockey East for the 2014-15 season.

The AHL returned to New Haven with the New Haven Nighthawks for the 1972-73 season. The Nighthawks existed for 20 years, reaching the Calder Cup Finals on four occasions (1975, 1978, 1979 and 1989). Notable players for the Nighthawks included Bobby Nystrom and Billy Smith, who would go on to win multiple Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders. The Nighthawks would change their name to the New Haven Senators for the 1992-93 season before the franchise was moved out of Connecticut.

The Fairfield University Stags in Fairfield, Connecticut began their hockey program in 1974, moving up to Division I status in 1997 before joining the Metro Atlantic conference in 1997 along with UConn. The program was disbanded for financial reasons following the 2002-03 season.

Hockey at it's highest level to date arrived in Connecticut on January 11, 1975 when the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association played their first game, only based in Hartford, not New Haven. The Whalers were an annual contender in the WHA, having won the league's inaugural championship prior to moving to Connecticut. The Whalers qualified for the playoffs annually, again making it to the Avco Cup Finals in 1978.

Memorably, the Whalers signed hockey legend Gordie Howe, along with his sons Mark and Marty in 1977. Other notable names to have played for the Whalers in the WHA include Dave Keon, John Garrett, Gordie Roberts, Tom Webster. Larry Pleau, Rick Ley and John McKenzie.

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Mark, Marty and Gordie Howe with the New England Whalers

The Whalers were one of four WHA clubs to gain entrance into the NHL in 1979, but one of the terms of the expansion of the NHL decreed that the club change it's name to the Hartford Whalers. While a number of notable played suited up for the Whalers throughout their time in the NHL, including Ron Francis, Kevin Dineen, Pat Verbeek, Geoff Sanderson, Bobby Holik, Chris Pronger, Brian Propp and Brendan Shanahan, the Whalers never found success on the ice, missing the playoffs 10 times and won but a single playoff series in 18 seasons before relocating out of state in 1997.

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Connecticut's best known team, the NHL's Hartford Whalers

Later in 1975, the Quinnipiac Bobcats from Hamden, Connecticut, a suburb of New Haven, began their hockey program at the Division III level, moving up to Division I in 1998 in the Metro Atlantic conference, which became Atlantic Hockey in 2003. They then joined the ECAC in 2005 and will be looking to capture their first national championship tonight when they take on their neighbors Yale tonight in the championship game of the Frozen Four.

Quinnipiac has two regular season MAAC championships and one MAAC Playoff title, as well as one Atlantic Hockey and one ECAC regular season crown to date.

Also located in Fairfield, the Sacred Heart Pioneers began their varsity hockey program in 1993, moving up to Division I in 1998 in the Metro Atlantic conference, which became Atlantic Hockey in 2003.

The AHL returned to New Haven in 1997, with the bizarrely named Beast of New Haven, who lasted two seasons. They faced an interstate rivalry from the Hartford Wolf Pack, who also came into being that same season. While the Beast was as short-lived proposition, the Wolf Pack, with the support of their parent club, the New York Rangers, were a much more successful operation. The Wolf Pack never had a losing record in 13 seasons and won the Calder Cup in 2000, just the second major championship in state history after the Blades title back in 1956.

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Wolf Pack team captain Ken Gernander accepts the 2000 Calder Cup

Notable NHLers to have played for the Wolf Pack include Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.

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Current New York Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan while with the Wolf Pack

Following a change in ownership the Wolf Pack was renamed the Connecticut Whale during the 2010-11 season in honor of the old Whalers of the WHA and later the NHL.

The New Haven Knights of the United Hockey League called Connecticut home for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.

While the Beast did not provide the Wolf Pack an intra-state rival for long, a new club, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL, the first professional team to call Bridgeport home, filled that role admirably. the Sound Tigers made a splash on their arrival in 2001-02, making it all the way to the Calder Cup Finals during their first season of play. Notable players for Bridgeport have been Rick DiPietro, Kyle Okposo and Trent Hunter.

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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL

Another short lived squad was the 2004-2006 Danbury Trashers of the UHL, who memorably had a hockey playing garbage can for a logo! Danbury also had the Danbury Mad Hatters of the Eastern Professional Hockey League in 2008-09 and now the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League, who began play in 2010-11.

With only the Blades having won the EHL championship in 1956 and the Wolf Pack capturing the Calder Cup in 2000, titles for Connecticut have been few and far between, but tonight Quinnipiac and Yale will battle it out for the rights to join the exclusive ranks of championship teams from Connecticut. as the teams battle it out on ESPN at 7:00 PM Eastern. Too bad with both schools being located just seven miles part in New Haven, the game could not be moved there rather than being played 450 miles away in Pittsburgh.

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#1 ranked Quinnipiac will battle Yale for the NCAA Championship tonight on ESPN

For more on the history of hockey in Connecticut, we recommend a visit to the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame online at cthockeyhof.org.

Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Hartford Wolf Pack Ken Gernander jersey from the high point in Connecticut hockey history, the team's American Hockey League Calder Cup championship.

The Wolf Pack always had beautiful jerseys, which drew from the templates and tradition of the jerseys of their parent club, the New York Rangers, but injected enough of their own logo elements to make the jerseys their own, with striking and memorable results.

Gernander became property of the Rangers in 1994, playing for the Binghampton Rangers for three seasons, which included 10 regular season and 15 playoff games. He moved with the club to Hartford in 1997 to fill the void created by the departure of the NHL's Whalers and remained with the team as a player through 2004-05, appearing in a pair of games for New York in 2003-04.

On his retirement as a player, he became first an assistant coach for the club before becoming their head coach in 2007, a position he still holds today through the change in ownership and name change to the Connecticut Whale.

Gernander is the only player to have his number retired by the Wolf Pack.

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Hartford Wolf Pack 99-00 jersey photo HartfordWolfPack99-0012Bjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of CalderCup2000.com

No history of hockey in Connecticut would be complete without a mention of the Whalers iconic goal song, Brass Bonanza.

Finally, here is the complete game when the Hartford Wolf Pack won the Calder Cup in 2000. Skip ahead to 2:06:00 to see the conclusion of the game and the trophy presentation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

1985-86 Hartford Whalers Kevin Dineen Jersey

From the time the WHA's New England Whalers entered the NHL, only now known as the Hartford Whalers they had only qualified for the postseason one time, that in their first season of NHL play in 1979-80. Their reward for making the playoffs was a matchup with the powerful Montreal Canadiens, who finished 34 points ahead of them in the standing and then delivered a sound thrashing to the NHL newcomers in Montreal by scores of 6-1 and 8-4 before eliminating the Whalers on their home ice 4-3 at 29 seconds of overtime.

The Whalers point totals dropped from 73 in 1979-80 down to 60 for two seasons before dropping down to 45, which tied them for the fewest points and earned them the second overall pick in the 1983 NHL Draft, where the Whalers selected Sylvain Turgeon ahead of future Hall of Famers Pat Lafontaine, Steve< Yzerman and Cam Neely and 1984 Calder Cup and Vezina Trophy winner goaltender Tom Barrasso.

The Whalers did rise in points from 66 and then to 69, but continued their streak of missing the playoffs, which now extended to five consecutive seasons.

In 1985-86, the Whalers were showing signs of continued competitiveness thanks to additions of additions to the roster such as Ray Ferraro andKevin Dineen to compliment Turgeon and now veteran Ron Francis, who all finished in the top four in team scoring at season's end, with Turgeon leading the way with 45 goals and 70 points, followed by Ferraro and Francis at 77 each and the hard-nosed Dineen's 68.

Francis Whalers, Francis Whalers
Ron Francis

The goaltending was anchored by Mike Liut while the defense boasted Ulf Samuelsson, Joel Quenneville, rookie Dana Murzyn and midseason additions Dave Babych, his brother and winger Wayne Babych and veteran center Doug Jarvis.

Liut Whalers, Liut Whalers
Mike Liut

The Whalers played respectable hockey through the last three months of 1985, avoiding any long losing streaks, but unable to string together an extended winning streak either. As the calendar changed to 1986 the Whalers won five consecutive games, kicked off by an 11-6 defeat of the Quebec Nordiques, only to give it all back and more with seven losses in a row during a ten game winless streak.

They finished strong however, going 8-1-2 over their final 11 games to finish the season with their first winning record as a member of the NHL at 40-36-4 for 84 points, 4 better than the Buffalo Sabres and good for fourth place in the Adams Division and their first spot in the playoffs since 1980.

1985-86 Hartford Whalers team, 1985-86 Hartford Whalers team
The 1985-86 Hartford Whalers

The format of the day called for the first four teams in each division to qualify for the postseason, with the first two rounds of the playoffs coming within their own division. By virtue of their fourth place finish, the Whalers drew the division winners, the Quebec Nordiques, whose 43-31-6 mark earned them 92 points, ahead of Montreal's 87 and the Bruins' 86 in a tight race.

The Nordiques were not the doormats they would become in the early 1990's, having made it to the semifinals the year before and had now posted three consecutive 90 point seasons thanks to a roster which featured the high scoring Peter Stastny (122 points, good for 6th in the league), Michel Goulet, Anton Stastny and the tough Dale Hunter.

The opening round was a Best of Five format and opened in Quebec City on April 9th. Anton Stastny of the Nordiques drew first blood with a power play goal at 2:44, but the Whalers evened the score within the final minute of the first period. The teams traded goals in the third period before Turgeon won it for Hartford 2:36 into overtime, sending 14,500 Nordiques fans home disappointed.

Game 2 was the next night and Hartford scored first at 3:53 and added a second goal at 8:51 of the first. Their lead was extended to three at 8:22 of the second before the Nordiques, who were badly outshot in the first two periods 26-14, showed some signs of life with a goal at 1:39 of the third, only to have the Whalers squash any hope of a comeback with a fourth goal at 16:32 to take a 2-0 lead in games heading back home to Hartford.

That third game at the Hartford Civic Center took place on this date in 1986 and was a wild affair on several levels, as 21 penalties and six goals occurred in just the first period alone!

Dineen got his first goal of the series at 2:29 on a power play and Dave Tippett's shorthanded goal at 5:22 made it 2-0 for the Whalers. Quebec responded at 8:40 on a power play before the teams traded goals in the 16th minute just 46 seconds apart, first by Francis of the Whalers at 15:06 which was followed by a shorthanded goal for Quebec at 15:52. Ferraro extended the Hartford lead to 4-2 with another power play goal, this one coming late at 19:20.

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Kevin Dineen

The second period was more of the same, with nine more penalties and four more goals, the first by Samuelsson at 2:07 followed by a string of power play goals, the first by Hunter of the Nordiques at 11:06. Ferraro and John Anderson of Hartford then extended the Whalers lead with goals at 13:08 and 13:34, both with the man advantage to make the score 7-3 in favor of the home team after two periods of play.

That lead was added to when Anderson got his second at exactly 7:00. Although Quebec scored at 13:08, it was too little too late, a point driven home by Dineen with his second of the game at 18:23 to make the final score 9-4 in favor of Hartford and giving them a three game upset sweep of the Nordiques, which would turn out to be not only the first playoff series victory in the history of the Hartford Whalers, but their only series win in their history, as they were defeated in the next round by the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 at 5:55 of overtime.

The following season the Whalers would win the Adams Division title with a franchise best 93 point season, only to have the Nordiques return the favor and upset the Whalers 4 games to 2.

Over the course of the next five seasons the Whalers would qualify for the playoffs each time, thanks in part to the now dreadful Nordiques, who assured the Whalers would qualify for the playoffs each season, only to see Hartford eliminated immediately in the first round every time.

The Nordiques finally improved thanks to their annual first overall draft picks and it was now the Whalers on the outside looking in, as they failed to qualify for the playoffs in 1993, the final year of the Adams Division. The realignment of the NHL, which placed Hartford in the new Northeast Division with not only old rivals Montreal, Boston, Buffalo and Quebec, but the addition of 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins, did the Whalers postseason chances no favors, and they failed to make the playoffs for their final four seasons in Hartford before relocating to North Carolina, leaving their victory over the Nordiques on this date in 1986 as their one and only playoff series victory.

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The Hartford Whalers banners

Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Hartford Whalers Kevin Dineen jersey. Upon entering the NHL, the Whalers debuted their new "Whale Tail" logo, which obviously featured a "W" for Whalers, but also contained an "H" hidden in the negative space of the logo to represent their change in name to Hartford.

This new style would be worn from 1979-80 until 1991-92, with only minor changes to the sleeve striping angles, the removal of the Pucky the Whale shoulder patches in 1985-86 and the removal of the green waist stripe. The team would then switch from green to blue jerseys in 1992-93, a jersey set which would never see action in the playoffs.

Hartford Whalers 85-86 jersey, Hartford Whalers 85-86 jersey
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section kicks off with the Whalers goal song, Brass Bonanza, also known as the "Whalers Victory March" which was adopted by the Whalers as their theme song during their days in the WHA, and remained so through their years in the NHL.

Gordie Howe was once quoted as saying that he loved to hear it as a visiting player for the Houston Aeros, but hearing it every night with the Whalers "began to drive me nuts."

Finally, the last goal in Whalers history, scored by then team captain Dineen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Brief History of Cooperalls

The sartorial splendor widely known as Cooperalls made their NHL debut when the Philadelphia Flyers took to the ice in their full-length pants versus the Detroit Red Wings on October 9, 1981.

Cooperalls logo

While many scoff at and scorn the Cooperalls, ranking them with other such sports uniform misfits as the 1976 Chicago White Sox shorts, we here at Third String Goalie embrace not only the concept of the Cooperalls, but their look as well. In our opinion, they made the players look taller and sleeker. If football and baseball players can look good in long pants, why not hockey players?

Flyers 81-82 Cooperalls

Even the basic idea of long pants for hockey players just makes so much sense to us. Why players would ever wear short pants for a winter sport played on ice, we will never quite understand...

The Cooperalls were first developed in order to increase player safety and protection, as the pads under the Cooperalls were held tightly to the body, unable to shift out of place like the current pads of the day, which would leave the player exposed to injuries, their tailbone in particular.

The original "Cooperalls" worn by the Flyers in 1981-82 were black with an orange stripe trimmed in white which ran down the length of the leg and were actually not Cooperalls, but a CCM version of the long pants called the CCM Pro Guard. Philadelphia completed their first season in the long pants with a 38-31-11 record, which was good for 87 points, placing them sixth in the Wales Conference.

Flyers 81-82 Cooperalls

Cooperalls were also reportedly worn by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1981-82 pre-season, but despite a reported game worn pair for sale on ebay, no photographic or video evidence of game action to support this claim is readily available.

Maple Leafs Cooperalls

For the 1982-83 season, the Flyers long pants returned, only this time in solid black, adorned only with a large Flyers logo at the ankle of each leg. Philadelphia rose to a 49-23-8 record, good for a Patrick Division title and second overall in the Wales Conference. Unfortunately for the Flyers faithful, they would be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both seasons at the hands of the New York Rangers, with their final game coming on this date in 1982.

Flyers 82-83 Cooperalls

The Flyers were joined by the Hartford Whalers in wearing "Cooperalls" for the 1982-83 season, with the Whalers version featuring a full-length pair of blue stripes surrounded by three white stripes, which again were actually the CCM version.

Whalers Cooperalls

The Whalers did the full length pants look no favors with their on-ice performance, as they tied for last in the league with 45 points following a 19-54-7 record.

Following the 1982-83 season the NHL outlawed the long pants on the grounds of player safety, as the outer fabric of the pants was made out of what was comparable to a nylon windbreaker which was more slippery than the traditional hockey pants/knit socks combination, and any player who fell while wearing them would skid relatively unabated into the boards at a much faster speed than previously, which makes today the anniversary of the final appearance of the CCM Pro Guard long pants, bringing to an end a brief, but memorable and controversial era in NHL history.

Cooperalls fall

Still, it wasn't just the Flyers and Whalers who wore the "Cooperalls", as Canada's junior leagues and high schools in Minnesota also wore them for a period of time.

Shanahan Knights
Brendan Shanahan of the London Knights in his Cooperalls

Brett Hull Penticton Vees Cooperalls
Brett Hull of the Penticton Vees sporting his Cooperalls

For those of you who think that 1983 was the last of the "Cooperalls" on NHL ice, think again, for it was on Halloween night in 2002 that Jeremy Roenick took to the ice during warmups for the Flyers upcoming game against the Phoenix Coyotes wearing a blond wig, blacked-out front teeth, striped "Cooperalls" and a #16 Bobby Clarke sweater!

Roenick Clarke Cooperalls

Perhaps it's now time to revisit the idea of the long pants. We're actually surprised that Reebok hasn't taken this one on yet. After all, they were bold enough to reinvent the hockey jersey, so why not change the pants while you are at it? Doing so certainly would have no doubt taken away some of the negative attention the the jerseys at the time.

Additionally, in the last 30 years there certainly have been many innovations and advances in fabric technology to the point that the basic excuse for banning Cooperalls in the first place, the slick fabric, could now easily be addressed by any number of equipment manufacturers.

After all, think of all the other men's sports at the Winter Olympics, alpine and cross-country skiing, bobsled and luge, curling, figure skating, speed skating, ski jumping and snowboarding, and just how many of those winter sports feature competitors wearing short pants? Right. Not one. Not even figure skating's Johnny Weir.

Even if the old guard would refuse to allow the return of the late, great Cooperalls full time, there is an opportunity staring us in the face that is just too good to pass up. The Flyers have been chosen to host the 2012 Winter Classic. In advance of that announcement some clever designer proposed a Flyers jersey based on the original Philadelphia franchise of the 1930's, the Quakers. While it is a darn fine concept, it was immediately put into production by the Chinese knockoff industry, ruining it's chances at life, as to now select that design would be to validate the bootleggers already extensive production run which has now flooded the market.

With that design now seemingly out, and the Flyers having had so few changes in style of their sweaters over the last 40 plus years, the one thing that has changed has been their pants, and the time is right for a return to the Cooperalls/CCM PRo Guard long pants of yore. It is, after all, an outdoor game, and wouldn't a nice warm pair of long pants (perhaps lined with some modern high tech Therma Base/Polartec/Thermal Dri-FIT/Play Warm fabric) be just the thing to keep you warm against winter's chill rather than shorts and socks? Jeremy Roenick thinks so...

Roenick Clarke Cooperalls

Today's featured pants are the 1981-82 Philadelphia Flyers "Cooperalls". Not actually Cooperalls, but CCM Pro Guard pants, they were worn for only a single season. These pants, with their elegant long stripe down the leg, which served to accentuate that the pants were indeed full length, were a shock to the established look when they first appeared.

The stripe on the Flyers pants disappeared for the second season, with just a Flyers logo waaaaay down by the ankle of the otherwise all-black pants. Meanwhile, four hours to the north, the Hartford Whalers also adopted the long pants for one season and went all out to call attention to the full length of their pants with no less than five alternating white and green stripes.

While Philadelphia and Hartford actually both wore the CCM Pro Guard pants, the name "Cooperalls" has become the popular nomenclature for the full length hockey pants in the same way that all brands of tissues are commonly referred to as "Kleenex" while copiers are often referred to as a "Xerox machine" regardless of brand.

Philadelphia Flyers 81-82 Barber Cooperalls

Today's video segment begins with footage of the Flyers wearing their Cooperalls from the first season of use, noted by the orange stripe down the legs.

This next clip from the WHL features Cam Neely of the Portland Winterhawks going toe-to-toe with Shawn Green of the New Westminster Bruins while both were wearing Cooperalls in the 1983-84 season.

In this next clip from the 1984 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, St. Paul Johnson takes on the Hill-Murray Pioneers during the Cooperall era. Note the clear boards of the old St. Paul Civic Center to complete the rare obscurity double of long pants and clear boards!

Even French-Canadians and Soviets liked Cooperalls!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yale Bulldogs Hockey

Tomorrow the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four will take place at the home of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, the Consol Energy Center.

The tournament kicks off with a game at 4:30 PM Eastern, pitting the #3 ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks of Hockey East facing off against the Yale Bulldogs of the ECAC and New Haven, Connecticut.

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The second game scheduled for 8 PM will feature the #9 St. Cloud State Huskies representing the WCHA and central Minnesota taking on the #1 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC and located a mere 8 miles down the road from Yale in the New Haven suburb of Hamden.

Yale is the oldest existing collegiate hockey program in the United States, tracing it's origins back to 1893, with their first intercollegiate matching being a 2-2 tie against Johns Hopkins on February 1, 1896.

In their early days, the Bulldogs played against various amateur athletic clubs and a growing number of other college teams, winning their first championship in 1899 with an undefeated record of 6-0. They would then go on to win the next three in a row, giving them four consecutive titles from 1899 to 1902.

In 1919, Yale began their season with five games in Canada, the first American university team to ever do so.

In 1933, Yale, along with Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton, formed the Quadrangular League and Yale took home the Hobey Baker Trophy as champions in 1934-35. The league continued to grow with the addition of Army in 1947, replaced by Brown two years later.

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The 1935-36 Yale Bulldogs

Murray Murdoch took over as head coach in 1938 and would hold the reins for 27 years, winning 271 games during his tenure.

In 1951-52 Yale finished with a 16-7-0 record and received their first invitation to the NCAA playoffs, which was then comprised of just four teams.

1951-52 Yale Bulldogs photo 1951-52YaleBulldogsteam.jpg
The 1951-52 Yale Bulldogs

In 1961, Yale and the other members of their league joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), where they all remain members to this day, along with Quinnipiac, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Union College, St. Lawrence University, Cornell, Clarkson and Colgate.

Of the current 12 ECAC members, 6 are also members of the normally 8 team Ivy League (Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and Cornell, minus Columbia and Pennsylvania) and the regular season ECAC games among just Ivy League schools are tracked to determine which school is declared the annual Ivy League champion, although no formal playoffs are held.

A low point for the program came in 1974-75 when the Bulldogs posted a dismal 1-21-1 record. Tim Taylor took over as head coach in 1976 and within two years the team had won 14 games and by the conclusion of the 1985-86 season had posted back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in their history.

Taylor became only the second coach in program history after Murdoch to win 100 games in November of 1986, but it would take an additional 11 seasons for Yale to win it's first ever ECAC regular season championship in 1998. The Bulldogs then received an invitation to the NCAA playoffs and coach Taylor was named the 1998 Coach of the Year by the American Hockey Coaches Association following the club's 23-9-3 record.

After 28 seasons as head coach, Taylor's final victory would be a memorable one, as Yale would defeat Union 3-2 in five overtimes with a shorthanded goal after six hours and 10 minutes of play at 1:10 AM! It set a new record as the longest game in NCAA history. It was Taylor's 342nd win, leaving him the only coach in school history with 300 wins.

In 2006, Keith Allain became Yale's first new head coach in 30 years (Taylor missed two years to coach the United States Olympic Team). After just three seasons the Bulldogs would claim the Cleary Cup as ECAC regular season champions in 2008-09 and then defeat Brown, St. Lawrence and then Cornell, by a score of 5-0 to convincingly win their first ever ECAC Playoff Championship, which earned them an automatic invitation to the NCAA tournament.

Yale went back-to-back as ECAC regular season champions in 2009-10 and again were invited to the NCAA tournament where they defeated the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux by a score of 3-2, their first win in an NCAA tournament game since 1952, with that being a consolation game for third place.

In December of 2010, Yale received their first ever #1 overall national ranking in school history. They advanced to their third consecutive NCAA appearance thanks to winning the ECAC playoffs for the second season running. They won their second NCAA playoff game with a 2-1 overtime win over the Air Force Falcons and finished the season with the best record in program history at 28-7-1.

This season they once again made the NCAA tournament field as the 15th seed out of 16, but upset the second seeded University of Minnesota 3-2 in overtime and then advanced to tomorrow's Frozen Four with a 4-1 win over North Dakota, their first Frozen Four in 61 years.

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Yale's upset defeat of Minnesota

The Bulldogs have now won three ECAC regular season titles and two conference tournaments. They have made six NCAA appearances and made the Frozen Four twice and will be looking to win their first national championship this weekend. Of note, the Bulldogs enter the weekend with the most Frozen Four experience of the four teams based on their single previous experience - 61 years ago - as none of the other three teams have been to the Frozen Four before!

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Yale celebrating their win which sends them to the
Frozen Four for the first time in 61 years

Notable Yale alumni include Chris Higgins, currently with the Vancouver Canucks, Randy Wood, Bob Brooke and Bob Kudelski, all of whom played over 400 games in the NHL.

Higgins Yale photo ChrisHigginsYale.jpg
Chris Higgins while with Yale

Today's featured jersey is a 2010-11 Yale University Bulldogs Chris Cahill jersey as worn during the season Yale achieved their first ever #1 national ranking in the college hockey polls and finished with the best record in school  history.

Yale, like it's Ivy League brothers, leans heavily toward the classic style of jerseys with their simple striping, and single color names, numbers and cresting while limiting themselves to just their traditional, dark "Yale blue" and white.

They have double outlined their cresting and numbers in the past, but like fellow two-color school Wisconsin, have retreated from the double outline "three" color look to once again simplify their look in recent times.

Yale 10-11 jersey photo Yale10-11Fjersey.jpg
Yale 10-11 jersey photo Yale10-11Bjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of JohnsonJerseys.net

Today's video segment begins with Yale's surprising and lightning quick defeat of Minnesota in this year's NCAA regional. Blink and you'll miss it!

Next is Yale winning the ECAC playoff championship for the first time in 2009.

Finally, Yale again celebrating, this time their 2011 ECAC playoff title.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

1971-72 Chicago Black Hawks Pit Martin Jersey

With the Chicago Black Hawks holding a three games to none lead in their 1972 opening round playoff series, Game 4 took place on this date in Pittsburgh at The Igloo.

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The Igloo, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Jim Pappin started the scoring with his second goal of the playoffs just 3:08 into the game when he beat Penguins goaltender Jim Rutherford with assists from Bill White and Pat Stapleton. Before the period was over, each team successfully killed off a minor penalty, and the period finished with Chicago leading 1-0 with the Black Hawks holding a 15-10 advantage in shots.

The first nine minutes of the second period passed without little to report before Ken Schinkel tied the game at 9:13 from Greg Polis and Bryan Hextall. The home fans in Pittsburgh were then delighted when Syl Apps gave the Penguins their first lead of the game at 14:10 from Jean Pronovost and Darryl Edestrand when he beat Gerry Desjardins in goal for Chicago.

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Gerry Desjardins was the Game 4 starter for Chicago

Desjardins had only played six games for the Black Hawks during the regular season, as the bulk of the work was shared by Tony Esposito (48 games) and Gary Smith (28). Esposito had started the first two games, winning both while giving up just three goals, and Smith had won Game 3 by a shutout, so the start by Desjardins was rather unusual, but with Chicago up by three, they had the opportunity to get him some playing time in the postseason, his first since 1969 with the Los Angeles Kings.

Bobby Hull, from Stapleton and Chris Bordeleau, tied the game for Chicago at 16:40 before Schinkel's second goal of the period, from Hextall and Polis, had the Penguins back on top at 3-2 just 39 seconds later. With time winding down in the second period, Pittsburgh's Ron Schock extended the Penguins lead to 4-2 when he scored with just 30 seconds left in the second period with an assist from Nick Harbaruk. The desperate Penguins, looking to keep their season alive, had outshot Chicago 14-7 for the period and all five goals in the second came at even strength despite each team having a power play opportunity.

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The Golden Jet, Bobby Hull

Despite giving up four goals in the second period, Desjardins remained in the nets for the Black Hawks at the start of the third. Shock took a penalty for Pittsburgh at 5:54 but Chicago could not capitalize. Desjardins and Shock then got into it at at 10:04 and each took matching minors. Bobby Hull then scored his second goal of the game from White at 11:28 to cut the Penguins lead to one. Dennis Hull then beat Rutherford from Bordeleau at 15:38 to tie the game at 4-4 and the momentum was now back with Chicago, who did not want to let Pittsburgh back into the series.

Bobby Hull then completed his second career playoff hat trick less than one minute later from Bordeleau (his third assist in under 20 minutes) and Wayne Maki at 16:22 to regain the lead for the Black Hawks as they looked to finish off the Penguins and avoid having to play any additional games.

Chicago just needed to hold off the Penguins for the remaining 3:38, but Pittsburgh was not finished yet, as Bob Leiter then tied the game yet again at 5-5 at 17:52 from Al McDonough and Tim Horton to give the Pittsburgh fans hope their season was not over.

The Penguins again outshot the Black Hawks in the third period, by the narrow margin of 10-9, but regulation concluded with the game still tied at 5-5.

The ice was resurfaced, but before the 12,415 in attendance could settle into their seats, Chicago's Pit Martin set a record for the quickest overtime goal in league history when he beat Rutherford for the game and series winning goal from Pappin and Dennis Hull just 12 seconds into the extra period, eliminating the Penguins in four straight. While Desjardins got the win for Chicago, it would be his only appearance of the playoffs.

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The record-setting Pit Martin

Today's featured jersey is a 1971-92 Chicago Black Hawks Pit Martin jersey. Martin was the second leading scorer on the Black Hawks that season with 75 points behind Bobby Hull's 93. Martin's 24 goals made him one of six Black Hawks with 20 or more, along with Bobby Hull (50), Dennis Hull (30), Pappin (27), Stan Mikita (26), and Cliff Koroll (22).

Martin would eventually play over 1,100 career games over 17 seasons, 11 of those with Chicago, He would score 324 goals and 809 points, which included three 30 goals seasons. He would appear in four consecutive NHL All-Star Games from 1971 to 1974 and was named the winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1970.

The Black Hawks first adopted the precursor to today's featured jersey back in 1955 before it went through evolutionary changes to the crest, neck line, striping and shoulder logos over the next ten years before arriving at today's featured configuration in 1965. One of hockey's most beloved and classic styles, it essentially remains unchanged today, albeit with the expected detail changes along the way, such as two color numbers, the addition of names on the back and the transition to the new Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007.

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Chicago Blackhawks 71-72 jersey photo ChicagoBlackhawks71-72Bjersey.jpg

Today's video is Dennis Hull talking about playing on the MPH Line, which was comprised of Dennis, Jim Pappin and Pit Martin.

Monday, April 8, 2013

1992-93 Washington Capitals Sylvain Cote Jersey

The old cliche goes that "The Best Offense is a Good Defense" and no team took that to heart like the 1992-93 Washington Capitals, whose rearguard consisted of Todd Krygier, who reached double digits with 11 goals and chipped in 12 assists for 23 points, and Calle Johansson, who contributed just 7 goals but added 38 assists for 45 points.

Also a key contributor to the Capitals attack was the legendary heavy shot of Al Iafrate, whose blast of 105.2 mph in the NHL Skill Competition stood for 16 years. Iafrate already had two 20 goal seasons on his resume while he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but in 1992-93 he set a career high with 25 goals for the Capitals. He nearly equalled his career mark of 42 assists with 41 that season for a total of career best of 66 points.

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Al Iafrate

Also setting a series of career highs was Kevin Hatcher, who led the Capitals blueline with 34 goals and 45 assists for 79 points, which placed him third in team scoring behind only center Mike Ridley's 82 points and team leader and right wing Peter Bondra's 85. In fact, Hatcher's 34 goals were second on the club behind only Bondra's 37, and were more than forwards Dmitri Khristich (31), Ridley (26), Pat Elynuik (22), Michal Pivonka (21), Dale Hunter (20), Kelly Miller (18), Keith Jones (12) and one-time 50 goal scorer Bobby Carpenter (11).

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Kevin Hatcher

Finally, Sylvain Cote scored his 20th goal of the season on this date in 1993 to make the Capitals the first team in the 76 year history of the NHL to have three defensemen score 20 goals in a single season when he connected at 19:45 of the second period against Swede Tommy Soderstrom of the Philadelphia Flyers with assists from Carpenter and Miller.

Cote would add one final goal during Washington's last four games for a total of 21 for the year. It would be the only 20 goal season of Cote's 19 year career and he would finish third among Capitals defensemen and ninth in team scoring with a then career high of 50 points, which he would eclipse the following season with 51.

Cote would begin his career with seven seasons with the Hartford Whalers before seven in Washington. He would leave the Capitals for the Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars before returning to Washington to finish his career with two full seasons in 2000-01 and 2001-02 before playing a single game in 2002-03 before his retirement.

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Sylvain Cote

The Capitals would finish second in the Patrick Division to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins with a 43-34-7 record and actually place mid-pack in team scoring, 10th out of 24 teams, despite the record setting contribution from their potent defense corps. In the postseason, the Capitals would be upset by the New York Islanders, who finished 6 points back of them in the standings, but won Games 2, 3 and 4 of their playoff series all in overtime before eventually ending the Capitals season in six games.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Washington Capitals Sylvain Cote jersey. All players wore the Stanley Cup Centennial patch during the 1992-93 season in recognition of Lord Stanley of Preston's donation of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup as the symbol of the top-ranking amateur hockey club in Canada 100 years earlier.

The Capitals wore their star-spangled jerseys from the time of their NHL debut in 1974 through the 1994-95 season when they stopped wearing their classic red, white and blue jerseys and changed to a new blue and black color scheme. Names would not arrive on the back of the Capitals red jerseys until 1977-78.

What really sets the authentic version of the Capitals jersey apart from the replica jerseys is that each letter of the Capitals logo on the front is a separate piece of material, rather than the entire crest being embroidered in a smaller size onto a patch, which would then be sewn onto the jersey. Each of the 16 stars on the chest and sleeves are also separate pieces of material which are sewn on. If you can get an old game worn or authentic Capitals jersey, do so, as it is one of the largest differences in quality between the authentic and the replica of any jersey.

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Washington Capitals 92-93 jersey photo WashingtonCapitals92-93Bjersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992-93 Washington Capitals Al Iafrate jersey from the season the Capitals became the first team to have three defensemen in NHL history score 20 goals or more. Additionally, it was the season Iafrate set career highs in goals and points as well as setting the record for the hardest shot in the NHL Skills Competition with his 105.2 mph blast.

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Washington Capitals 34 92-93 jersey photo WashingtonCapitals3492-93Bjersey.jpg

Today's video segment is a compilation of goals scored by Iafrate with his powerful snapshot, as well as setting his long standing record in the hardest shot competition through the power of his mullet.


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