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I am a HOCKEY fan! * Gardening and Quilting are fun hobbies for me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Hockey Experience PART 2

We liked the first game, although we did not know any of the rules. Don ran into Dan LeValley, a friend and fellow Hang Gliding pilot. At the next game we attended, we sat with Dan and his friends in the corner of the arena a few rows from the glass. They answered our questions about the game. We found the games to be good entertainment and began attending on the weekends and occasionally on a weekday night. As I became more familiar with the game, I began to comment on the players. I didn’t know it at the time, but sitting behind me was the general manager of the Coliseum. Later, he commented that I was pretty rough on the players. He also gave me the nickname - The Nacho Queen, as I enjoyed a tray of them at nearly every game. (Don had just introduced me to jalapenos)

One especially snowy night, while driving home from a game we crossed a curved bridge and found it to be icy. As we slowly approached the next bridge, the car coming toward us slid across the bridge sideways and skidded along the rail in our lane sending sparks flying into the cold night sky. Ah, winter in Kansas.

We continued to attend games and soon had favorite players. I was drawn to the big blueline defensemen: Charlie Huddy, Mike Forbes, Owen Lloyd and Brad Knelson and of course the goalie Andy Moog. The coach for this season was John Muckler who replaced Ace Bailey*. 
Charlie Huddy Button

One player that still sticks in my memory is Curt Brackenburry.
He was a wild man on the left wing. Nothing smooth here - only rough. He would fly around the rink during his shift, checking anyone in sight and return to the bench breathless. He had asthma and while on the bench, would suck on an inhaler several times a night to get through the game. Lots of heart with this guy! He played for Wichita the first season and then with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles the next to end his career.

Following a game against the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in which the team received 19 fighting penalties, Muckler and eight other members of the organization spent a night in jail for a nightclub altercation. The owner of a disco club asked police to remove the players from his property; Muckler said police "panicked" and "didn't handle the situation very professionally".

During a game in Wichita, when the strip of carpet was rolled out for a ceremonial puck drop or flag color guard, out came a mouse. He must have been sleeping in the warm carpet when suddenly it was carried away and rolled out on the ice with bright lights shining down on him. He scurried along the boards looking for an escape while getting a laugh from the crowd.

In August 1982, Muckler was named assistant coach of the Oilers and replaced by Andy Laing. Additionally, the New Jersey Devils replaced the Oilers as the Wind's parent team. The Wind missed the playoffs for the first time, finishing in sixth place with a 29–48–3. They were eliminated from playoff contention early in the season. It was announced after the season that the team would not play in Wichita a fourth year because of conflicts over the lease on the Kansas Coliseum. The Coliseum's owners wanted a two-year commitment while GM Gordon wanted a one-year lease. Additionally, the team lacked a practice facility; Gordon said the team "bent over backward to keep hockey in Wichita". A preliminary agreement was reached to move the team to Yellowstone METRA (now Rimrock Auto Arena) in Billings, Montana, but the move never occurred.

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