3 Springfield Indians to Win the AHL's John B. Sollenberger Trophy
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3 Springfield Indians to Win the AHL's John B. Sollenberger Trophy

The Springfield Indians were long the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers. The team produced great players and some say that for a time during the early 1960's, the Indians were better than their National Hockey League parent. Despite their success, just three different Indians have led the AHL in scoring and thus earned the John B. Sollenberger Trophy.

Three players in the history of the American Hockey League’s Springfield Indians were John B. Sollenberger Trophy winners. The Sollenberger Trophy is handed out each season to the player in the AHL with the most points during the regular season. It is the equivalent of the National Hockey League’s Art Ross Trophy.

Bill Sweeney won the Sollenberger in three consecutive seasons, 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63 with point totals of 108, 101 and 103. Sweeney is the only player to ever win the award three times in a row. His first victory was just three years after being honoured with the Dudley ‘Red’ Garrett Award as the AHL’s rookie of the year.

No stranger around the opposing team’s net, Sweeney won the Eddie Powers Trophy with the Guelph Biltmores in 1956-57 as the leading scorer in the Ontario Hockey Association. His 650 points in 536 games withSpringfieldplaces him second all-time. Despite his success in the AHL, Bill played just four NHL games, with the New York Rangers in 1959-60. Sweeney became a member of the AHL Hall of Fame in 2010.

A decade and a half later, Andre Peloffy became the second Springfield Indians player to win the Sollenberger Trophy. Peloffy, a native ofFrance, led the league with 99 points in 1976-77. It was the first of three years Andre played for Springfield.

Peloffy was a tenth round pick of the New York Rangers at the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft, 111th overall. His only NHL active came in 1974-75 with the expansion Washington Capitals, appearing in nine games. He played an additional 10 games in the World Hockey Association with the New England Whalers in 1977-78.

Bruce Boudreau was the last Indians player to win the Sollenberger Trophy, leading the AHL with 116 points in 1987-88. The point total is a team record. Like Bill Sweeney, Boudreau won an Eddie Powers Trophy, leading the OMJHL in 1974-75 with 165 points as a member of the Toronto Marlboros.

Also like Sweeney, Boudreau is a member of the AHL Hall of Fame, inducted in 2009. Currently the head coach of the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks, Boudreau played 141 NHL regular season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks. He also appeared in the 30 games with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association in 1975-76.

With exception of a three year stint as the Syracuse Warriors in the 1950’s, the Springfield Indians existed from 1926 until 1994. The franchise was then moved toWorcester and have since become the present-day Peoria Rivermen.Springfield did not go without AHL hockey, however. A new franchise was granted for the 1994-95 season and the Springfield Falcons, although unrelated to the Indians, are still in existence today.

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