Saturday, June 28, 2014

This day in Indianapolis hockey history: June 28

HUGE batch of birthdays today. Former Indianapolis Capitol (and NHL veteran) Jim Watson, Racers Murray Kennett and Gary Inness, Indiana Ice owner & former Checker Paul Skjodt, former Checker and Stanley Cup champion goalie Roland Melanson, another former Checker in Doug Moffatt, and IHL Ice Don Herzceg. Also born on June 28: late former Capitals Bill Jennings and Norm McAtee.

Happy birthday to ... 
Bill Jennings: Longtime forward for the Capitals from 1940-45. He played 106 games for the Capitals, with 49 goals and 76 assists. His biggest year came in 1942-43, when he had 23 goals and 33 assists in 33 games. He was part of a Calder Cup championship team in 1942, where he had four goals and six points in 10 postseason games. He had five points in seven games as the Caps returned to the Calder Cup Final in 1943. Jennings split each of his years with the Caps with the parent Detroit Red Wings. He was traded to the Boston Bruins partway through the 1944-45 season, where he scored 20 goals in 39 games and had his best NHL season. He had 32 total goals and 65 points in 108 NHL games. He retired after spending the 1945-46 season in the AHL, where he scored 24 goals for two teams. A native of Toronto, he was born in 1917. He passed away in 1999 at age 82.
Norm McAtee: Forward who played part of the 1941-42 season and the 1946-47 season with the Capitals. He played briefly for the Caps in 1941-42, and then after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, 30 games for the team in 1945-46, tallying 13 points. He would be traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, and later the Boston Bruins, that season, where he would play 13 NHL games and tally one assist in 1946-47. After his retirement as a player, he coached the IHL's Troy Bruins, refereed in the IHL, and was a radio color commentator for the league's Dayton Gems. He was born in Startford, Ont. in 1921 and passed away in 2010 at age 89.
Jim Watson: Defenseman who played five games as a rookie for the short-lived Capitols team in 1963. He played 61 full games that season with the team in Indianapolis and Cincinnati that year, with seven points. He got his first NHL call-up that season, and played four games with the Red Wings in his first three pro seasons, before getting the call to Detroit to play 61 games in 1967-68. After another two seasons in the minors, he stuck in the NHL in 1970, playing two full years with the Buffalo Sabres. He scored the first goal in Sabres history that year. He also played four WHA seasons in Los Angeles, Chicago and Quebec, before retiring in 1976. In total, he played 452 NHL/WHA games with 11 goals, 52 assists and 573 penalty minutes. A native of Malartic, Quebec, he is 71.
Murray Kennett: Defenseman who played 28 games for the Racers in 1974-75, with a goal and three assists. He played 106 WHA games with the Racers and Edmonton Oilers between 1974-76, in a five-year pro career that spanned 1972-77. A native of Kamloops, BC, he is 62. 
Gary Inness: Racers goaltender in their final two seasons, from 1977 through the aborted 1978-79 season. He played 63 games for the Racers, going 17-36-4. He played for the Pitsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL before joining the Racers, and three seasons for the Washington Capitals afterwards, capping an eight-year pro career. He was one of a few players who came to the NHL directly from the Canadian university ranks. After retiring, he coached the Hershey Bears for four seasons in the 1980s and was a high school teacher and coach in Ontario. A native of Toronto, he is 65.
Roland Melanson: Rollie the Goalie played 52 games for the Checkets in 1981-82, going 31-16-3 with a 2.57 GAA and two shutouts. He was named the CHL's Rookie of the Year for his play in the team's net, and quickly earned a callup to the parent New York Islanders. He was part of Islander teams that won the Stanley Cup from 1981-83, and also played in the Cup Final in 1984. He and Billy Smith shared the NHL's William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed in 1983. He was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars in 1985, and also played for the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens before retiring in the 1993-94 season. He played 291 NHL games, going 129-108-33 with a 3.62 GAA. He also played in 23 NHL playoff games, including 17 during the Isles' runs to the Stanley Cup Final. He became an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens in 1987, and has spent the last few seasons as the Vancouver Canucks' goaltending coach. A native of Moncton, NB, he is 54.
Doug Mofatt: Center for the Checkers in 1985-86. In 27 games, he had three goals and seven assists. It was the one North American professional year for the former WHL scoring phenom -- he had 62 goals in 1984-85 and back-to-back 100-point seasons for the Calgary Wranglers. He played in Germany through 2004. A native of Calgary, he is 50.
Paul Skjodt: A person who has made his mark on hockey not just as a player, but as an owner, in Indianapolis. He came to the Checkers as a right wing in the 1985-86 season -- two seasons after scoring 83 goals in Britain. He played two seasons for the Checkers, scoring 13 goals and assisting on 18 over 43 games. He played alongside his older brother Charlie during the 1985-86 season. He remained involved in local hockey. He is the owner of the USHL's Indiana Ice, which has competed in the top-level junior league from 2004-14, and won Clark Cup championships in 2009 and 2014. Skjodt has also owned several high-level youth teams prior to and concurrent to owning the Ice. A native of Toronto, he is 56.
Don Herczeg: Defenseman who played 15 games for the Ice in 1988-89, tallying three assists. He played five minor pro seasons from 1985-90, with his best year being a 33-point season in 1985-86 with the ACHL's New York Slapshots. A native of Edmonton, he is 50.

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