Wednesday, December 23, 2009

North Texas Vintage Game Series begins on Saturday

Brahmas, Americans rekindle old rivalries

The Texas Brahmas and Allen Americans open their “North Texas Vintage Game Series” on Saturday night at the Allen Events Center. The series is in remembrance of the Dallas/ Fort Worth area’s early professional hockey rivalries.

The two-game series will feature the Texas Brahmas as the Fort Worth Wings (1967-73, 1973-82 as the Texans) and the Allen Americans as the Dallas Blackhawks (1967-82). Both teams will be donning throwback jerseys representing their historic predecessor.

The 1940-41 Fort Worth Rangers

Members of the 1946-47 Dallas Texans

Professional hockey rivalries between the two cities began in 1941 with the Dallas Texans and the Fort Worth Rangers of the American Hockey Association. Old timers will remember gritty players like the Texans’ Murray “Army” Armstrong, Lloyd Finkbeiner, Paul Bibeault and the Rangers’ Francis “Red” Kane, Russ Kopak and Bert Peer. The league shut down in the fall of 1942 due to World War Two. Resuming play under the United States Hockey League in 1945-46, the teams resumed play and the rivalry continued through the 1949 season, when both teams folded.

In 1967, professional hockey returned to North Texas with the arrival of two Central Hockey League teams. The expansion Fort Worth Wings, an affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, played at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The Dallas Blackhawks, who had relocated from St. Louis, played at the State Fair Coliseum.

Throughout the years a deep hatred between the Fort Worth and Dallas clubs was developed, as were many tales, including stories involving bench clearing brawls on the ice and mayhem in the stands, including the legendary 10 cent beer night (near) riot in Fort Worth in 1978. The rivalry made them two of the most popular teams in the CHL.

The Texans won their only Adams Cup Championship, in 1978 by defeating the Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime of game seven of the finals. The Blackhawks won 5 Adams Cup championships during their time in the league. Both teams ceased operations following the 1981-82 seasons.

The modern Central Hockey League’s Dallas Freeze and Fort Worth Fire competed between 1992 and 1995, when the Freeze folded. The Fire remained in the league until 1999.

14 years after the last games between Dallas and Fort Worth teams were played, the Texas Brahmas (formerly Fort Worth Brahmas) and the expansion Allen Americans have already started a heated rivalry of their own.

The two teams met twice in the pre-season, splitting wins. They’ve met four times thus far in the regular season, with the series tied 2-2; each team earning a shootout victory. Suffice it to say, the games have been physical.

Brahmas goalie Joe Palmer has been outstanding in his starts versus the Americans going 2-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .938 save percentage.

This year, the Brahmas and Americans organizations promise memorable evenings with throwback concession prices, special game programs and most notably, the return of a few key players from the storied rivalry.

The vintage series will begin on Saturday, December 26th at the Allen Event Center at 7:30 pm. The second game will take place at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills on Friday, January 8th at 7:05 pm.

Immediately following game two, the Brahmas will host a live game-worn Fort Worth Wings jersey auction at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Allen Americans will place their game-worn Dallas Blackhawks jerseys in a silent jersey auction after the conclusion of the series.

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