Gregg Mace’s Memories of Baltimore Hockey

Baltimore Hockey Classic Washington Capitals

The Baltimore Hockey Classic marks the return of hockey to Charm City for the first time in 20 years. The Capitals will host Nashville on Tuesday night at 1st Mariner Arena. Gregg Mace, Sports Director of abc27 WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, grew up in Baltimore and shares his special thoughts about the return of hockey to his hometown.

Here's some footage of a bench brawl between the Skipjacks and the Rochester Americans back in the old days.

Every hockey fan has a special story to tell. A story of how they became interested of this great game. Mine began in the mid 1960’s. As a seventh grader at Baltimore Friends School, I became an avid fan of the Baltimore Clippers, the first Baltimore team in the American Hockey League. The team played in what is now called 1st Mariner Arena. To me, it will always be the Baltimore Civic Center. When the building opened, the Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards) and the Clippers were its prized tenants. The Clippers were just one of a handful of teams in the AHL, a far cry from its nationwide exsistance today.

My parents or grandparents would drive myself and my friends to nearly every game. Tickets in the 300 level were just $1.50. After the first period, we perfected the art of moving to an empty seat in the more expensive sections. The four rows behind the net cost just $4.00 each.

Younger fans will find this hard to believe, but there was chicken wire to protect the fans from the puck, not plexiglass. You could hear everything that was being said. There were no helmets and the Clippers had claim to the last goaltender to not wear a mask, Andy Brown.

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Old Man Knuble

Mike Knuble

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

A 24-year-old Mike Knuble, then a promising forward prospect, played nine games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1996-97 season.

Players who were still playing during Knuble’s first season in the NHL include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Mark Messier, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Leetch, Grant Fuhr, and Ron Hextall.

Just days after Knuble’s first game, Phil Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis to focus on his solo career, M.C. Hammer wasn’t yet bankrupt, and it would be months before The Daily Show debuts on Comedy Central.

I guess what I am trying to say is Knuble is old getting up there in years, but don’t tell him that.

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