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Cincinnati Stingers MVRP


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 And yet another old WHA team history


  The Cincinnati Stingers joined the WHA in 1975-76 and played until the league ceased operations after the 1978-79 season. During that time success on the ice eluded them but they were never at a loss for interesting characters and several future hall of famers began their careers in the Queen City.


  The Stingers played in the Riverfront Coliseum and drew well for their four years of operation playing in a state of the art arena. Always around .500 and twice making the playoffs and losing in the first round, twice missing the playoffs by just a little bit. The club was actually quite popular in the area, they played their games on WLW radio and were decently popular.

  When the merger was being set up the Stingers pushed a massive ad campaign to enter the NHL, but with hockey failing twice in Cleveland, once with the WHA Crusaders and then with the NHL Barons the NHL chose not to accept another Ohio club. Rumor is that the NHL is considering allowing hockey into Columbus soon but so far it is only a rumor (sorry).

  Four years of mediocre hockey but some interesting characters some who are still around the game today. They include:


DENNIS SOBCHUK the first ever pick of the Stingers who because they were still building an arena they had to lend him for his rookie season to the Phoenix Roadrunners. A solid player, the Stingers brought in his brother to play although his brother really could not play and hired his father as a scout. By his own admission the money and fame went to his head and he partied away a promising career. For the Stingers he scored 32 and then 44 goals before the club dealt him to Edmonton. He had so much promise and essentially partied it away, after the merger he only managed 35 games in the NHL with 5 goals.

 RICK DUDLEY  A solid player with the Sabres who was raided by the Stingers and was the star of the show for the four years of the clubs existence before returning to the Sabres to finish his career. With the Stingers Dudley was the all time leader in goals scored with 131 and games played with 270. He has hung around forever as a coach and GM in the NHL currently serving as an assistant to the Canadians.

  BLAINE STOUGHTON hadone of the greatest individual season of any stinger, scoring 52 goals and 104 points in 1976-77. He went on to a very nice NHL career after the merger averaging 49 goals a year in his first four years with the Whalers. After his career Stoughton returned to Cincinnati as the college hockey coach for the U. of Cincinnati.

 BARRY MELROSE, MARK MESSIER, MIKE LIUT AND MIKE GARTNER all either broke in with the Stingers or played a significant portion of their early careers after being raided from the juniors by the WHA. Gartner and Messier are both HOFers, Liut is a significant figure still in the game, and Melrose is still Melrose for good or bad. 

  ROBBIE FTOREK Played the final two seasons with the Stingers after starring with the Roadrunners, he was amazing in the two years in Cincinnati scoring 109 and then 116 points in his two seasons. He went from there to play six mostly injury prone seasons in the NHL but he was a crisp passer and a dangerous offensive player.

 FRANK 'NEVER' BEATON and the famous story of him having to escape arrest for assault by hiding in the teams equipment bag, BRYAN 'BUGS' WATSON wrapping up his career with the Stingers, PAUL STEWART who went on to have a wonderful career as a referee began his pro career as a goon with the Stingers. DAVE FORBES who ruined Henry Boucha's career with a spear to the eye finished in Cincy.

  The most famous moment in Stinger history was on Thanksgiving day 1977, when the Stingers were playing in Birmingham, a pastor came out and said a prayer before the start of the game, and then the Buls, the meanest team ever assembled started a line of Dave Hanson of Slap Shot fame, Bad news Billideau, Frank Beaton Serge Beaudolin who was a bad ass himself and finally Steve Durbano himself. The Stingers led by coach Jacques Demers of the Stingers countered with a small diminutive skilled line, mistakenly thinking it was a hockey game. Twenty seconds into the game the line brawl started thrilling the Birmingham fans who had as much knowledge of Hockey as I have of nuclear physics but boy did they love their fighting. Rick Dudley jumped on the ice and lost his mind, getting kicked out and suspended, as did Demers. So essentialy the most famous moment in Stinger history was them losing a line fight against five of the most famous goons in WHA history on Thanksgiving day after a preacher prayed for peace. I think it is kind of fitting. 

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