The 5 Calder Cup Victories of the AHL's Buffalo Bisons
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The 5 Calder Cup Victories of the AHL's Buffalo Bisons

The Buffalo Bisons existed in the American Hockey League from 1940-41 to 1969-70. The team produced many great hockey players and were able to hoist the Calder Cup as AHL playoff champions on five occasions. The Bisons hockey stay at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium came to an end as the Buffalo Sabres entered the National Hockey League for the 1970-71 season.

The Buffalo Bisons existed in the American Hockey League from 1940-41 until 1969-70. The franchise was originally located in Syracuse, New York and was known as the Stars. The Bisons played out of the Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium. The team’s AHL days came to an end as the Buffalo Sabres entered the National Hockey League for the 1970-71 season. During their time, the Buffalo Bisons won the Calder Cup as AHL playoff champion on five occasions.

In 1942-43, the Bisons finished first in the West Division during the regular season under legendary Hockey Hall of Fame head coach Eddie Shore. Buffalo met the Indianapolis Capitols in the final series and captured the Calder Cup, winning three games to none.

The following year, 1943-44, World War II was taking its toll and the American Hockey League was reduced to two divisions of three teams. Buffalo finished second in the East Division and met the Cleveland Barons in the Calder Cup final. Buffalo swept the Barons in the best of seven final to capture their second consecutive championship.

Just two years later, 1945-46, the Barons and Bisons once again met in the finals. Buffalo finished the regular season with the best overall record and placed first in the East Division. Cleveland gave the Bisons a much better fight and took the series to seven games before bowing out. During the regular season, Buffalo was helped out by Ken Mosdell. Mosdell was called up to the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens before the playoffs began. He went on to play nearly 700 regular season games with the Habs.

Nearly two decades passed before Buffalo hoisted the Calder Cup again. In 1962-63, the Bisons finished first overall during the regular season and were the number one seed in the West. Led by Art Stratton and John ‘Pie’ McKenzie on forward and Denis DeJordy between the pipes, the Bisons took out the Hershey Bears in the finals, four games to three. Both Stratton and McKenzie finished among the top ten scorers in the league and DeJordy won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s MVP. The Bisons were coached by Billy Reay. The following season, Reay was coaching the NHL’s Chicago Black Hawks and continued to do so until the 1976-77 season.

1969-70 was a special year for the Bisons. The franchise knew there was only room for one professional hockey team at the Aud in Buffalo. With the Buffalo Sabres set to join the NHL along with the Vancouver Canucks the following season, the writing was on the wall for the AHL club. The Bisons finished first in the West and second overall. Buffalo met the Springfield Kings in the finals and made quick work of it, winning the Calder Cup in just four games. Fred Shero, future Stanley Cup champion with the Broad Street Bullies (Philadelphia Flyers) was behind the bench and Gilles Villemure was between the pipes. Villemure was awarded the Les Cunningham for his efforts and Shero was named Coach of the Year.

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