Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Pacific Hockey League’ Category

1967-1979 Phoenix Roadrunners

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Sandy HuculWestern Hockey League (1967-1974)
World Hockey Association (1974-1977)
Central Hockey League (1977)
Pacific Hockey League (1977-1979)

Born: May 16, 1967 – The Victoria Maple Leafs relocate to Phoenix, AZ
Folded: June 22, 1979

Arena: Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Team Colors:


Lester Patrick Cup Champions (WHL): 1973 & 1974
AVCO Cup Championships (WHA): None
Adams Cup Championships (CHL): None


Text coming soon…


Phoenix Roadrunners Shop

Roadrunners Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

Phoenix Roadrunners Memorabilia



Pacific Hockey League Programs


1978-79 San Diego Hawks

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San Diego HawksPacific Hockey League (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – Re-branded from San Diego Mariners.
Folded: Spring 1979

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena (13,039)

Team Colors:

Owner: Elmer Jonnet

PHL Championships: None


The San Diego Hawks were a minor league ice hockey team that lasted just one winter in the Pacific Hockey League.

The PHL debuted the year before as a sort of minor league offshoot of the World Hockey Association, a 1970’s rival to the National Hockey League.   The WHA had flamed out in several Western cities, including San Diego and Phoenix.  The PHL’s first season in 1977-78 featured only four teams, including the San Diego Mariners and the Phoenix Roadrunners, both of whom revived their WHA-era team names and logos.  The Mariners were owned by San Diego Sports Arena owner Peter Graham.

In the summer of 1978 Graham sold the Mariners to Pittsburgh real estate developer Elmer Jonnet.  Jonnet changed the team’s name to the San Diego Hawks and opened up his wallet to sign a roster full of World Hockey Association veterans.  The Hawks also featured 42-year old San Diego hockey icon Willie O’Ree, who was a mainstay for the San Diego Gulls of the Western League from 1967 to 1974.  Way back in 1958, O’Ree was the first black player to play in the NHL. He appeared in two games for the Boston Bruins, but spent most of the next two decades in the minors.  This was his final season and he played well, scoring 21 goals and adding 25 assists for the Hawks.

The Pacific Hockey League entered the 1978-79 season with six franchises but quickly lost two when the Los Angeles Blades and San Francisco Shamrocks dropped out of the league in January.  The surviving teams weren’t in much better shape. The league cancelled the playoffs due to financial problems and declared first place Phoenix to be the league champion.  The Hawks finished second with a 34-22-2 record.

26-year old center Joe Noris, a former NHL journeyman who also played for the WHA’s San Diego Mariners, led the Pacific League in scoring with 27 and 77 assists. He was named the Pacific League’s Most Valuable Player for 1979.  He never played another professional season. Noris waged a protracted legal battle against  Elmer Jonnet for much of the 1980’s in attempt to collect on the balance of the three-year playing contract he signed with the developer in 1978.  The litigation became as much of a circus as the Pacific League was itself. Noris scored a judgement against Jonnet’s Pittsburgh home. The beleaguered owner attempted to forestall payment by pleading that his attorney was a hopeless drunk and that the court discriminated against him on account of his Native American heritage.

The Pacific Hockey League folded in the spring of 1979, taking the Hawks down with it.



Pacific Hockey League Programs


1979 Tacoma Tugs

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Pacific Coast League (1979)

November 16, 1979 – Tugs re-branded as the Tacoma Tigers.

Stadium: Cheney Stadium

Team Colors:



The Tacoma Tugs were a one-season only Class AAA farm club of the Cleveland Indians in the Pacific Coast League during the summer of 1979.  The Tugs appeared (briefly) during an unsettled period in Tacoma’s baseball history, when the city’s Pacific Coast League franchise cycled through four different parent clubs in four seasons between 1977 and 1980.  The Tugs replaced the Tacoma Yankees (1978) and gave way to the Tacoma Tigers (1980-1994).

The Tugs were 74-73 in Tacoma’s only season as an Indians affiliate.

25 Tugs players saw service time in the Major Leagues at some point in their pro careers.  Among the more accomplished of these players were relief pitcher Larry Andersen, who played parts of 17 seasons in the Majors, pitcher Juan Berenguer (15 seasons), catcher Ron Hassey (14 seasons), and the late Bo Diaz, a two-time Major League All-Star.


 ==In Memoriam==

Tugs catcher Bo Diaz died in an accident on November 23, 1990 while trying to fix a satellite dish on his roof in his native Venezuela.  He was 37.

Tugs infielder Taylor Duncan passed away from a stroke on January 3, 2004 at age 50.



Pacific Coast League Media Guides

Pacific Coast League Programs








Written by AC

June 2nd, 2013 at 1:14 am

1978-79 Tucson Rustlers

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1978-79 Tucson RustlersPacific Hockey League (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – PHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1979 – PHL ceases operations.

ArenaTucson Community Center (6,628)

Team Colors:

Owner: Alf Cadman


The Rustlers were part of Tucson, Arizona’s procession of short-lived pro hockey teams in the 1970’s, following the Central Hockey League’s Tucson Mavericks (1974-1975) and the Tucson Icemen (1976-1977) of the Southwest Hockey League.  Like their predecessors the Rustlers lasted only one season before evaporating, and they were lucky to make it that far.

Tom Simpson Toronto TorosThe club was an expansion franchise in the second-year Pacific Hockey League.   The PHL was a small independent circuit organized by former World Hockey Association execs in January 1977.  Teams had no major league affiliations with WHA or NHL clubs, but had plenty of available talent to choose from, since the WHA was in a contraction phase, leaving many players without work.  The Rustlers lured a pair of top former WHA scorers in Frank Hughes and Tom Simpson.  Hughes had back-to-back 40-goal seasons with the WHA’s Houston Aeros in the mid-1970’s.  Simpson was a 50-goal scorer for the Toronto Toros in 1975.

Another noteworthy Rustler was Wild Willie Trognitz, a goon so notorious he was banned for life by the International Hockey League in 1977.  (Trognitz earned his own Sports Illustrated feature story that same year – quite an honor for a career minor league enforcer.)

Team owner Alf Cadman, a former hockey player and promoter from Red Deer, Alberta abandoned the club and returned in to Canada in December 1978.  The Rustlers somehow managed to limp through the rest of the 1978-79 season as a ward of the league.  Meanwhile, the rest of the six-team PHL started to fall apart.  The Los Angeles Blades and San Francisco Shamrocks clubs both shut down in January 1979.  Only four clubs finished the regular season and the PHL cancelled the playoffs due to financial woes.  The league went out of business in the spring of 1979, ending the brief run of the Tucson Rustlers.


==Tucson Rustlers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other


1/4/1979 @ Los Angeles Blades ?? Program
3/24/1979 @ Phoenix Roadrunners ?? Program



Pacific Hockey League Programs

1978-79 Tucson Rustlers Roster & Stats on


Written by AC

January 30th, 2013 at 2:11 am

1978-1979 Los Angeles Blades

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Los Angeles Blades Pacific Hockey LeaguePacific Hockey League (1978-1979)

Born: November 1978 – PHL expansion franchise.
Folded: January 1979

Arena: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (14,519)

Team Colors: Black, Gold & White

Owner: J. Glenn Barrons

PHL Championships: None


The Los Angeles Blades were a hastily organized and quickly departed entry in the Pacific Hockey League (1977-1979) during the league’s second and final season in the winter of 1978-79.  The PHL was organized in 1977 by former executives from the big budget World Hockey AssociationThe PHL hoped to recapture the glory days of the old Western Hockey League (1952-1974), a top-flight minor league which thrived from Phoenix to Vancouver up until the late 1960’s.   The westward expansion of the NHL in 1967 and the arrival of the rival World Hockey Association in 1972 combined to deprive the Western League of players and markets and the league folded in 1974.

The Pacific Hockey League was a slapdash effort from the start.  The league only had four franchises during its first season in 1977-78, and just three returned for year two.  Expansion franchises in Tucson and Spokane brought the league membership to five teams, but five is an awkward number for scheduling purposes.  San Diego Hawks owner Elmer Jonnet persuaded his friend J. Glenn Barrons to back a Los Angeles team to bring the league to six for the 1978-79.  The Blades were thrown together in less than two weeks in November 1979.  Barrons named his team the Los Angeles Blades, in honor of the Western League franchise of the same name that played from 1961 until 1967 until the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings arrived in town.

The team was such a last minute afterthought that Barrons couldn’t get dates at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena at first.  The club played its first month on the road before opening at home against the Tucson Rustlers on December 14, 1979.  The team wasn’t supported by Los Angelenos – who barely knew the Blades existed – and Barrons walked away in January after just two months.  The Blades just 22 of their planned 60 games before folding, posting a 7-14-1 record.

The Blades best known player was 41-year old Howie Young, a rough and tumble NHL and WHA defender who spent a stretch of the 1960’s as a top-flight performer with the original Blades of the Western League.

Another notable was former Washington Capital Craig Patrick, playing his final games of a decade-long career.  The following year Patrick would serve as the Assistant Coach to Herb Brooks on the iconic 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that beat the Soviets and then brought home the gold at Lake Placid.  In later years, Patrick became General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and won two Stanley Cups as an executive.


In Memoriam

Former WHL and PHL Blade Howie Young passed away on November 24, 1999 at age 62.



Pacific Hockey League Programs



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