Tuesday, September 27, 2016

1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci Jersey

Minnesota native Gary Gambucci, born on this date in 1946, joined the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 1965-66 season with a flourish, leading the team in scoring with 23 goals and 40 points in 28 games. After a point reduction to 27 in his junior season, he rebounded with a 41 points season during his senior season of 1967-68 when he was named an All-American.

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Gambucci led the Gophers in scoring as a sophomore

Gambucci spent the 1968-69 season with the United States National Team which saw him make his international debut at the 1969 World Championships, scoring a goal and an assist in 10 games. He also spent a season with the Rochester Mustangs of the United States hockey league, averaging two points per game with 28 goals and 62 points in 31 games.

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The 1969 United States National Team

The 1969-70 season saw Gambucci with the US National Team again, playing in his second World Championships B Pool in 1970, scoring an impressive 11 goals and 18 points in just 7 games as the Americans won the tournament and promotion back to the Top Division for 1971.

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The 1970 United States National Team

Gambucci had a stellar 1970-71 season with the US National team, scoring 51 goals and 98 points in 50 games before his third consecutive World Championships in 1971 with 7 goals and 10 points in 10 games.

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The 1971 United States National Team

His efforts saw him signed by the Montreal Canadiens in May of 1971, who then traded him to the Minnesota North Stars. He spent the majority of the 1971-72 season with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 56 games as well as making his NHL debut with the North Stars, seeing action in 9 games which included scoring his first NHL goal.

His entire 1972-73 season was spent with the Barons, who unusually relocated midway through the season to Jacksonville, Florida as their owner decided the Barons could not share the Cleveland market with the Cleveland Crusaders of the new World Hockey Association. Despite the unrest over the team's home situation, Gambucci led the team in scoring with 26 goals and 76 points to average a point per game in his 75 games.

His 1973-74 season saw him play a pair of games with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, 21 games with the Portland Buckaroos, scoring 11 goals and 26 points in 21 games, but the majority of his season was with the North Stars back in the NHL, seeing action in 42 games, where he scored one goal and 8 points.

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Gambucci reached the NHL with the North Stars

Gambucci had been selected by the Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA back in 1972. The franchise relocated to Vancouver, who traded his WHA rights to the Minnesota Fighting Saints in June of 1974.

His first season in the WHA with the Fighting Saints was a chance to regain his offensive game, as he scored 19 goals and 37 points in 68 games in the wide open WHA. He also saw action in 7 games with the Fighting Saints minor league affiliate, the Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League.

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Gambucci switched from the NHL to the WHA in 1974

Gambucci was back with the Fighting Saints in 1975-76, playing in 45 of their 59 games, scoring 10 goals and 16 points before the franchise ceased operations on February 28, 1976.

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Gambucci at the St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards

He had one final chapter in his career, returning to the World Championship with the United States for the fourth time in the spring of 1976, contributing a goal in 5 points in ten games, which brought an end to his playing career.

His NHL totals were a modest 51 games played with 2 goals and 9 points and his two WHA seasons saw him play in 113 games with 289 goals and 53 assists. His World Championship totals were 37 games played with 20 goals and 35 points, aided by his dominating performance in the B Pool in 1970. Gambucci was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Gambucci was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006

Today's feature jersey is a 1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci jersey. The Fighting Saints came into being in 1972-73, wearing jerseys with the same striping pattern, but with the team's "S" logo in home white, road blue and alternate gold. Before the season was over, a new set of white and blue jerseys debuted with their "Little Saint" logo as the new primary crest and remained in use through their demise in 1975-76.

When shopping for a Fighting Saints jersey, notice that the logo lacks a halo, does not say "Saints" inside the "S" logo and is wearing white skates, all common mistakes seen on many retail versions of the jersey, which use the version of the logo used in many of the team's print ads.

For the most accurate version we have seen, we recommend the one available from our friends at Vintage Minnesota Hockey.

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Today's video is a look back at the Minnesota Fighting Saints and some of their legendary antics.

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