As far as I can remember, the only American Hockey League game I ever went to was an exhibition contest in Barrie, Ont. in the early sixties between the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons. Ron Clarke and I hitchhiked down from Orillia, got there early, and somehow managed to meet the Buffalo trainer, who let us hang out in the Bisons dressing room and gave us jobs as stick boys during the game. We then took the bus home, carrying sticks signed by the Buffalo team, which we promptly wrecked playing road hockey.
I suppose this winter I could spend six hours making my way to Abbotsford, east of Vancouver, to see the Bulldogs when they come to town to play the Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, but I think I’ll pass on the long and tedious drive, the hotel room, and the several restaurant meals. Unless it’s a handy drive, no hotel involved, and cheap tickets and arena beer, I’m not donating any more greenbacks to the NHL. They have lots and I don’t. And we’ve seen how much they care about us.
I’d do what Hobo just did though. He drove a few minutes from his place to Cobourg to see the Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies in action, spent almost nothing, and he sends a nice little report about the affair.
Take it away, Hobo!
“It was the Marlies 3, Bulldogs 1, and the Marlies get full credit for the victory. The Dogs looked painfully like the parent club, not generating any kind of flowing offence, and losing in the last few minutes by taking a needless penalty. But at least they weren’t afraid to mix it up.
“The Cobourg rink is a great place to watch a game. We were in the last row of seating, about fifteen rows from the ice, and right behind us were Habs brass Larry Carriere and Rick Dudley in a makeshift press area. It took awhile for me to put names to these faces I recognized from somewhere, and I didn’t really talk to them much except to to tell them their little team played just like the big boys. I suppose they didn’t really need to hear this from a schmuck like me. It was interesting to eavesdrop on their conversation, though.
“Jarred Tinordi hardly played a shift for the first two periods but played more in the third. Brendan Gallagher didn’t dress. The Bulldogs pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and I heard Carriere say, “Hey, they only have five guys out there.”
“I really enjoy watching AHL games, especially at fifteen bucks a ticket. And Jake Gardiner was by far the best player on the ice. Too bad he was wearing the wrong colours.”
Thanks Hobo. Just great. And if anyone checks out the Bulldogs in action or any other minor-league tilts and wants to write a little bit about the experience, please sent it along. It would make for a nice post, just like Hobo’s today.
Here’s the lineup when Ron Clarke and I saw the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons in Barrie. I didn’t realize until years later when I looked at this that Don Cherry was in the Amerks lineup. I guess he didn’t stand out.