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New Books Highlight Histories of Minor League Hockey
By Jim Heckel   - 01/07/2007

The Newport Plain Talk

More Info on This Book: Hockey in the Capital District

I began following hockey in the mid-1980s when I was assigned to Fort Eustis, Va., not far from Norfolk. While I was there, a new team joined the East Coast Hockey League, the Hampton Roads Admirals. I was hooked instantly.

Hockey is a very fast-paced, hard-hitting, extremely skilled sport. I like hockey on TV, but there is nothing like the atmosphere of seeing it in person.

The Ice Bears fell behind 2-0 after the first period, then railed for four goals in the second period and then scored seven more in the third. There were goals and, of course, fights between players of both teams, but that’s part of the ice sport as well.

Jim Mancuso has authored tow books on minor league hockey for Arcadia Publishing. “Hockey in the Capital District” covers the history of the fastest sport on ice in Albany, Troy and Schenectady, N.Y. The second book, “Hockey in Providence,: centers on the tradition of the Providence Reds and modern day Providence Bruins.

I must admit that when I asked for the Capital District book, I thought I was going to read a book about hockey in the Washington, D.C., area. But I enjoyed the book very much.

The photo of John Brophy, a rough and tough defense-man who holds the all-time records for the old Eastern League for games played and penalty minutes, really brought back memories for me. During the days of the Hampton Roads (Norfolk) Admirals, Brophy was the coach. Be believed in outscoring and outslugging his opponents.

Brophy especially brought out the boos whenever the team was skating in Richmond, probably because of the time he went into the stands after a heckler. Today Brophy coaches the Richmond entry in the Southern Professional Hockey League. They love him now, of course.

Among the other photos that captured my attention included Bill Moe, Dave Richter, Torrie Robertson, John Blue, Alain Lemieux, Danny Lorenz, Brad Dalgarno, Tom Karvers, Rich Pilon, Ray Ferraro, Dennis Vaske, Butch Goring, Mark Fitzpatrick, Tom Fitzgerald, Steve Sullivan and Brian Rolston.

Over the past 15 years, the Capital District Islanders and Albany River Rats have been the top minor league farm team for the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche.

The hockey tradition goes back much further in Providence. Minor league hockey began in 1926-27 with the Providence Reds’ entry into the Canadian American Hockey League. The Reds were the top farm team for the great Montreal Canadiens for all 10 years of that league’s existence. The team won three league championships during this time.

In 1936-37, Providence helped form the American Hockey League. The team won the Calder Cup championships in 1937-38 and 1939-40. They were affiliated with the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs during the early years of the league.

The team won another title in 1948-49 as an independent club (they were not affiliated with an NHL club). They won another championship in 1955-56 with the New York Rangers supplying players. From 1959 to 1965, the team was once again affiliated with the Boston Bruins.

The team continued through the 1977 season with affiliations with the California Seals, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Rockies and New England Whalers. The team moved to Binghamton, N.Y., following that season.

Hockey returned to Providence in 1992 as the Providence Bruins and have remained affiliated with near-by Boston since that season. The team captured the Calder Cup in 1998-99.

Among the photos that stood out for me are Jimmy Gardner, Johnny Gagnon, Carl Liscombe, Jack Crawford, Camille Henry, Eddie Shack, Larry Hillman, Bruce Gamble, Moe Mantha, Rick Middleton, Dave Maloney, Cam Stewart, Peter Laviolette, Jim Carey and Andrew Raycroft.

Arcadia books are known for their vivid black and white photos and these books do not disappoint. They sell for $19.99 at local book stores, online book sellers or at www.arcadiapublishing.com. I highly recommend them.

Buy It Now: Hockey in the Capital District $19.99

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