Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Omaha Knights : 1945-46

Last month, I chronicled the induction of Rod and Don Morrison into the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame. Full Story.

In 1945-46 the Knights were one of  7 teams which formed the United States League. The other teams were  Kansas City Pla-Mors, St. Paul Saints, Tulsa Oilers, Fort Worth Rangers, Dallas Texans and Minneapolis Millers. The Knights were a farm team of the Detroit Red Wings.

Recently, I discovered a team photograph of the '45-46 Knights.

Unfortunately, attempts to positively identify each player was a difficult task. An identical photo was signed by the players, however, it contains a Lefty Wilson signature in two locations. Thus, putting the names/faces out of sequence. The alignment of names with players on the signed copy is as follows -  (Left to Right) - Frank Melong, Harvey Jessiman, Lefty Wilson, Barry Sullivan, Al Dewsbury, Gordie Howe, Jake Forbes, Gordon Petrie, Don Morrison, Jim Skinner, Ross Wilson (a.k.a. Lefty Wilson), Ed Reigle, Rod Morrison, Connie Poitras, George Homenuke, Carl "Winky" Smith, Tommy Ivan (coach).

Eight individuals who signed the photo, played in the National Hockey League during the Original Six era. In 1943-44, Carl "Winky" Smith played in 7 games with Detroit; Don Morrison 1947-48 (40 games/Detroit) 1948-49 (13 games/Detroit) 1950-51 (59 games/Chicago); Lefty Wilson, substitute goalie, October 10, 1953 (replaced an injured Terry Sawchuk in 3rd period) January 22, 1956 (loaned to Toronto to replace an injured Harry Lumley in 3rd period) December 29, 1957 (loaned to Boston to replace an injured Don Simmons in 1st period); Barry Sullivan 1947-48 (1 game/Detroit); Al Dewsbury 1946-47 (23 games/Detroit) 1947-48 (1 playoff game/Detroit) 1949-50 (11 games/Detroit) 1950-51 to 1955-56 (313 games/Chicago); Ed Reigle 1950-51 (17 games/Boston); Rod Morrison 1947-48 (34 games/Detroit); Gordie Howe 1946-47 to 1970-71 (1,687 games/Detroit) 1979-80 (80 games /Hartford). These are all regular season stats, with the exception of Al Dewsbury's participation in the 1948 playoffs.

Tommy Ivan would go on to serve as coach in Detroit (1947-48 to 1953-54) and Chicago (1956-57 to 1957-58)


  1. I played juvenile and junior hockey at Olympia from 1951-1954 and "Lefty" use to sharpen my skates for me. What a guy always had a smile for us.

  2. Frank Gunner Melong was my uncle

  3. HF: your uncle has ben incorrectly identified in two books as Gunner Malone, roommate of rookie, Gordie Howe in Omaha. Would love to learn more about him; pls contact me: aubferg@gmail.com

  4. Eddie Reigle a cousin of my wife. After playing in Omaha and Cleveland with the Barons he became head coach for team Sweden and West Germany. He coached in a couple Olympics. He went on to become the head scout for the California Golden Seals before coaching in Switzerland. I have a mini wooden hockey stick signed in pencil by the players on the 1945-46 Omaha Knights team including Gordie Howe and Tommy Ivan. My guess is that players were given the sticks as momentos.