John Humphrey, Sports News

1975-1976 Spitfires Vol II

John Humphrey, Gordie Howe, Jim Bedard, NHL Moves, Spitfires Training Camp,Team Canada 1976, Long Season for Windsor Spitfires, Windsor Spitfires will only improve on their strong start to the OHL season, Windsor Spitfires Memories from '75-76, 1975-1976 Spitfires Had Little Firepower, Memories of '75-76 Windsor Spitfires, Windsor Spitfires Vol III

1975-1976 Spitfires had Little Firepower

Not only did the 1975-1976 Windsor Spitfires have great difficulty stopping the opposition from keeping the opposition from flashing the red light behind the Spits net with great regularity (the team allowed a whopping 470 goals in 66 games) but the club also faced considerable challenges scoring their own goals. Indeed, the team’s total of 251 goals clearly showed that the Spitfires were not exactly an offensive Juggernaut.

Perhaps the single biggest reason for this lack of goal-scoring and overall poor performance was the reality that not only did the Spitfires not receive the first overall draft choice of the 1975 Ontario Major Junior “A” Midget draft but they also did not receive the first pick of the subsequent rounds of the draft. Also, the Spitfires did not have the luxury of having an expansion draft that would have seen them select a player or two from existing OMJHL teams. Had the fledgling Spitfires been afforded those rights by the league – as each and every expansion team in the now-Ontario Hockey League has enjoyed since the Spitfires – the team would have undoubtedly been more competitive than their 12-50-4 record.

Team management struggled mightily to find the right players to fit into the roster almost on a game by game basis – as evidenced by the reality that no less than 44 players adorned the Spitfire uniform in ’75-’76. In fact only four players – Charlie Skjodt, Guy Losier, Mark Renaud and Joel Quenneville – played in all 66 games.

Despite scoring under four goals per game on average, the Spitfires did manage to have five players who scored at least 20 goals. Skjodt lead the way with 41, followed by Losier (27) and Scott Miller (24). Ted Bonham notched 21 goals and Mike Dwyer lit the red light 20 times behind opposition goaltenders.

Interestingly enough, Losier and Dwyer were traded five games into the 1976-77 season to the Niagara Falls Flyers in a deal that saw Windsor natives Ken Campbell and Ron Friest move to their hometown team. While Skjodt was drafted by the NHL and WHA, he never played In either league and Dwyer was the only forward from the inaugural Spits team to ever play in the National Hockey League. He played with both the NHL’s Colorado Rockies and Calgary Flames.

Friest, a longtime real estate agent in Windsor, played two seasons with the Spitfires before moving on to a pro hockey career with the Minnesota North Stars.

The 1975-76 Windsor Spitfires, by the way, were not the lowest-scoring team in the OMJHL that season. That distinction went to the Peterborough Petes, who scored only 204 times. The Petes, did, however, allowed 186 goals less goals than the Spitfires that season.

Read the final installment of this series, Windsor Spitfire Memories from ’75-’76 Vol III