Philadelphia Firebirds (ice hockey)
Syracuse, New York
|Home arena||Philadelphia Civic Center
Onondaga County War Memorial
|Colors||White, Orange, Yellow, Green|
Detroit Red Wings
|Playoff championships||1: 1975–76
From 1974 to 1977 the Firebirds were a member club of the North American Hockey League winning the league's Lockhart Cup play-off championship in 1976. The Firebirds featured several key players during their time in Philadelphia. Goaltender Rejean Lemelin moved on from the Firebirds to a long career with Calgary and Boston in the NHL. The tandem of center Bobby Collyard and right wing Gordie Brooks were consistently among the leading scorers in both the NAHL and AHL during their Firebird careers. The Firebirds (and the whole NAHL) played a free-wheeling, high-scoring brand of hockey. Philadelphia averaged over 4.50 goals scored per game during their three NAHL seasons, and averaged 5.94 goals scored per game during the 16 games of their Lockhart Cup championship run in 1976. One playoff game in 1976 between the Firebirds and the Johnstown (Pa.) Jets ended with the Firebirds winning 14-10. Firebird crowds were generally sparse, but over 9,223 fans jammed into the Philadelphia Civic Center to see the Firebirds defeat the Beauce Jaros 5-2 on April 14, 1976 and win the Lockhart Cup, although seating capacity for hockey was only 8,500.
When the NAHL folded in 1977, the Firebirds, along with the Broome Dusters, joined the then-struggling American Hockey League. The Firebirds played all five seasons in Philadelphia (three NAHL and two AHL seasons) at the Philadelphia Civic Center (formerly Convention Hall - see below), which has since been torn down. The Firebirds were affiliated with the NHL Detroit Red Wings in 1977–78 and the Colorado Rockies in 1978–79. However, minor league hockey placement of prospects was much less well structured in the 1970s (compared to today), and Philadelphia's roster did not have many top-drawer players. The Firebirds lost their first 10 games of the 1978-79 season before defeating the Hershey Bears on November 10, 1978, en route to a last place 23-49-8 season.
Following the 1979 season, the franchise moved to Syracuse, New York, where the club played one final season as the Syracuse Firebirds before folding.
- Philadelphia Firebirds 1974–1977 (North American Hockey League)
- Philadelphia Firebirds 1977–1979 (American Hockey League)
- Syracuse Firebirds 1979–1980 (American Hockey League)
|Season||1st round||2nd round||Finals|
|1974–75||L, 1–3, Long Island||—||—|
|1975–76||W, 3–2, Erie||W, 4–2, Johnstown||W, 4–2, Beauce
Lockhart Cup Champions
|1976–77||L, 1–3, Erie||—||—|
|1977–78||L, 1–3, New Haven||—||—|
|1978–79||Out of Playoffs|
|1979–80||L, 0–4, Hershey||—||—|
- "A Brief History of The American Hockey League & Minor League Pro Hockey in Philadelphia: 1927 - 2005"
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