Note: This is the second in an occasional series celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Fairgrounds Coliseum and the dawn of the Indianapolis Capitals. Our first series will devise an all-time team for every hockey team to play in Indianapolis.
Previously-posted All-Time teams: Capitals
Indianapolis’ second foray into the professional hockey world was the Indianapolis Chiefs. When the Capitals folded prior to the 1952-53 season after a largely-successful 13-year run, Indianapolis was left without pro hockey for the first time since 1939. At the same time, a more cost-effective circuit was taking shape in the Midwest, the International Hockey League. One of the Caps’ former AHL foes – the Cincinnati Mohawks – went to the IHL and dominated. With teams in Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton (and nearby Troy), the IHL looked to be a strong alternative. After a difficult first season, the Chiefs had a couple of strong years — going to the Turner Cup Final in 1957 and winning the championship the following year. A third playoff season followed in 1959, but the team folded in 1962 due to low attendance. While the team’s success on the ice was mixed — it never had a winning regular-season record in its seven seasons — it produced some memorable players and moments. Here are 10 of them:
Pierre Brillant: No all-time Chiefs team can begin without a mention of Brillant. The right winger joined the Chiefs in 1956 after a big year in Quebec senior hockey, and in four and a half seasons, scored 204 goals, had 161 assists and 365 points. No player in Indianapolis hockey history has tallied more goals. He ranks eighth all-time among Indy hockey players in assists, and third in points. He played 278 games with the Chiefs, having his best success sharing a line with Bob Bowness and Marc Boileau in 1957-58. He had 38 goals in 1956-57, and followed with 45 the next year. He had 14 points in 11 playoff games to lead the Chiefs to the Turner Cup. His best year came in 1958-59, when he had 57 goals and 41 assists, tallying 98 points, in which he was second in the IHL in goals and third in points. He had another 50-goal season in 1959-60. He is one of two players (Yvan Corbin being the other) who has put up multiple 50-goal seasons for an Indianapolis hockey team. His 57 goals in 1958-59 stood as the Indy hockey record for 41 years until broken by Corbin in 2000. Brillant was named the IHL’s MVP in both 1957 and 1958, and was the league’s leading scorer in 1957. He was a first-team IHL All-Star in 1957-60, and a second-team All-Star in 1960-61. After leaving the Chiefs in a controversial midseason trade to Omaha in 1961, Brillant played seven largely productive seasons with the AHL Providence Reds.
Marc Boileau: It’s no secret that Boileau’s two years with the Chiefs were the team’s two most successful. He centered Brillant’s line throughout those two years, and was not just a consistent goal scorer, but a solid pivot. Boileau had 25 goals and 32 assists in 1956-57, but had an outstanding year in 1957-58 with Brillant and Bob Bowness on his wings. He had 26 goals and 61 assists, leading the team with 87 points. He led the IHL in assists and was the league’s third-leading scorer. His 13 points in 11 playoff games helped lead the Chiefs to the 1958 Turner Cup title. He was also a second team All-Star that year. It was actually his second Turner Cup — he won one with the Cincinnati Mohawks in 1954. Boileau would go on from the Chiefs to a long career in the WHL, and would return to the IHL as a coach. He won the Turner Cup with Fort Wayne as a coach in 1973 and later led both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Quebec Nordiques — winning the WHA title in 1977.
Bob Bowness: The “B” Line comprises our first team. Bowness skated with Brillant and Boileau on the left side, and had two productive seasons with the Chiefs. In 1956-57, he had 21 goals and 57 points in 60 games. The following year, he had 24 goals and 44 assists in 64 games, and contributed eight points in the team’s Turner Cup run. They were his lone two minor pro years – he played largely senior hockey in Canada. His son, Rick, would go on to coach in the NHL.
Lloyd McKey: McKey played more than 200 games with the Chiefs, joining them late in the 1956-57 season and playing through 1961. He had a pair of goals in the 1958 Turner Cup run and gave the team a solid defenseman to team with Short, Busch and a handful of other players. McKey was a second team All-Star in 1959.
Billy Short: No blueliner played more games in the Chiefs uniform than Short, who played four full seasons from 1957-61. He played 238 games for the Chiefs, and was the anchor of the team’s blueline for those four seasons. He had 11 points in 11 games in the 1958 Turner Cup run, and tallied double-digit goals three times. In 1960-61, he had 22 goals and 21 assists. He also had a 40-point season in 1958-59. He had 52 goals and 101 assists in his career with the Chiefs. Short was an IHL first team All-Star in 1959.
Cliff Hicks: Hicks was a perennial netminder for the Chiefs. He joined the team prior to the 1956-57 season, and backstopped all three of the team’s playoff appearances, including two Turner Cup Finals appearances and a title in 1958. His 185 games, 82 wins and six shutouts all rank third among Indianapolis pro goaltenders. Hicks played with the team from 1956 through early in the 1959-60 season. Hicks was third in the IHL in 1957 with a 2.95 GAA and four shutouts. He ranked second in 1958 with a 3.25 GAA. He was a second team IHL All-Star three straight years from 1957-59.
Leo Lamoureux: Leo joined the Chiefs in 1955-56 and immediately built a contender. He revamped the roster in the 1956 offseason and turned an 11-win team into a Turner Cup finalist — and a champion the following season. After stepping aside for a year, Leo returned to coach the team in 1960, but succumbed midseason to a battle with acute hepatitis. Leo coached 158 games, and had a career 10-9 playoff record. He was the IHL second team All-Star coach in 1957 and 1958.
Germain “Red” Leger: Red had three productive seasons with the Chiefs, scoring at a point-a-game clip in each. In 1957-58, he was one of the final pieces to a Turner Cup championship team, with 18 goals and 34 points in 33 games. His 13 points in 11 playoff games were second-most on the team and were critical in the Turner Cup title. His best year came in 1958-59, when he had 23 goals and 45 assists in just 49 games. He followed with another 20-goal, 45-point year in just 38 games the following season. Red retired from minor pro hockey after that season at age 32.
Bobby Rivard: Rivard played just one full season with the Chiefs, and it was a memorable one. He had 40 goals and 51 assists, tallying 91 points in just 68 games in 1960-61. He would go on from the Chiefs to have several good years in Fort Wayne and in the AHL before retiring in 1975.
Frank Kuzma: Kuzma was another perennial Chief, playing three full seasons and part of a fourth with the team from 1957-61. He had 48 goals and 65 assists in 154 games. His best year came in the 1957-58 Turner Cup year, where he had 23 goals and 35 assists. He had 32 points in 48 games the following year.
Don Busch: Defenseman who held down the blueline for the Chiefs, often playing alongside Billy Short, from 1956-58. He had 23 points in 123 games those two seasons, and was instrumental in the defense for two Turner Cup finalists.
Jean Therrien: Jean joined the Chiefs in 1961-62, their final season, and put up some incredible offensive numbers for a blueliner. In 66 games, he had 31 goals and 40 assists. Such numbers were not uncommon for Therrien, who was a rugged defender who could put the puck in the net.
Chuck Adamson: Adamson replaced Hicks in goal during the 1959-60 season and played the second-most games of any Chiefs goaltender, suiting up in 119 games from 1959 through the team’s folding in 1962. He had a GAA above 4.00 in each of those seasons, often beguiled by a tough defense in front of him in a rapidly-strengthening IHL.
Forwards: Myron Stankiewicz, Garth Hayes, Alex Viskelis, Hank Therrien, Denis Menard, Lloyd Maxfield, Len Thornson, Eddie Busch
Defensemen: Grant Morton, Ed Calhoun