Monday, July 4, 2016

1978-79 Regular Season


There were many intriguing story lines entering the 1978-79 season. After a disappointing end to a terrific 1977-78 season, the Minnesota Lumberjacks entered the new season once again with high hopes. During the summer, the Lumberjacks made a big trade, acquiring superstar Phil Reid from Boston. The trade meant that Minnesota was serious about contending for a championship. Captain Guy Dupont was once again confident that his team was the team to beat. The confidence was justified as Minnesota finished the regular season first overall in the Western Conference and second overall in the league with Dupont scoring a career-best 54 goals. The Lumberjacks nearly took first overall in the league with an identical record to Montreal, but settled for second due to the Royale’s better goal differential. In Pittsburgh, the Stingers proved that their incredible season in 1977-78 was no fluke. Danny Stevenson enjoyed another big season, scoring 57 goals to lead the league as Pittsburgh took third place in the East to return to the post-season. 

The three time defending champion LA Wizards dropped a little in ’77-’78, finishing fifth overall and third in the Western Conference. LA’s drop was partly due to a mid-season injury to Stuart Holly. The St. Louis Spirits finally broke the 50-win barrier. David Appleby enjoyed a big year scoring 55 goals. It was the first time ever that three players scored 50 goals in the same season. Several other teams enjoyed much-improved seasons including California, who earned 90 points, Edmonton, who had their first winning record, Toronto, who also enjoyed a winning season for the first time since 1971. 

Vancouver, Dallas, and Winnipeg continued to struggle in the West, all three teams were unable to reach 30 wins, while Seattle missed the post-season once again. But the league’s worst team was by far the Long Island Concordes, who finished in last place with only ten wins. With frustration setting in for Long Island after 23 straight losses in February, the budding cross-town rivalry with the New York Civics boiled over. When the Civics’ Dave Tobin scored to make the score 7-0, Long Island’s Gerald Garner jumped Tobin and a line brawl ensued. When the teams reconvened in Manhattan two weeks later, the benches cleared. Every player got involved. Including the goaltenders Gil Brady and Mike Gilles. The brawl summed up a tough, frustrating season for Long Island. As the post-season approached, almost all eyes were on LA. Stuart Holly would return from his injury in time for game one against rival California. With stiff competition across both the league and the Western Conference, the big question would be whether the Wizards would claim a fourth consecutive title, or would there be a new Lewis Cup Champion.

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