The Cincinnati Swords spent just a short three years in the American Hockey League. Yet, in their second year, 1972-73, the team was crowned Calder Cup champions. There were several Ontario Hockey League grads on the team but two grads of the London Nationals (Knights) played prominent roles in Cincinnati’s success.
1972-73 Cincinnati Swords
The AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres was in their second of three years of existence in 1972-73 and was coached by Floyd Smith. Along with John Gould and Norm Farr, former London players, future NHLers Bill Hajt and Rick Dudley were on the team. Hajt played 854 regular season games and 80 Stanley Cup playoffs games in the NHL, all with Buffalo. Dudley played a combined 579 games between the NHL and WHA.
The Swordsd finished first in the Western Division and first overall in the AHL with a record of 54 wins, 17 losses and five ties for 113 points over the 76 game schedule. The team was led by Bill Inglis who scored 40 goals and assisted on 57 for 97 points over 75 games. Inglis was another OHA grad, playing two years for the Montreal Junior Canadiens in 1961-62 and 1962-63. He tied for fifth in the AHL for goals with teammate Rick Dudley, placed third in the AHL for assists and fourth for points. Bill was honoured with the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s MVP.
In the Calder Cup playoffs, Cincinnati swept the Richmond Robins in the opening round. In the semi-finals, the Swords took out the Virginia Red Wings in six games. In the finals, the team met up with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs and captured the championship in five games.
Gould played two years in the OHL (OHA Junior A), 1967-68 and 1968-69 with the Nationals in the first year and Knights in the second year. In 1968-69, John scored 30 and assisted on 44 for 74 points in just 49 games but played second fiddle to Darryl Sittler.
In the National Hockey League, Gould played 504 regular season games between 1971-72 and 1979-80 with the Sabres, Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Flames. Over that time, he scored 131 goals and assisted on 138 for 269 points. His best pro year came in 1970-71 with the Charlotte Checkers of the EHL. He scored 48 goals and placed fifth in the league. The Checkers won the championship with a win over the New Haven Blades.
Norm ‘Rocky’ Farr
Farr played net in the OHA from 1963-64 to 1966-67 with the Montreal Canadiens, London Nationals and Oshawa Generals. In London’s first year in the league, 1965-66, Farr played 47 of the team’s 48 regular season games. He was shipped to Oshawa during his final year in the league.
Norm played professional hockey from 1967-68 to 1975-76 in the CHL, AHL, WHL, NHL and NAHL. He was taken 38th overall by the Sabres in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft when Buffalo and the Vancouver Canucks joined the league. Farr played 19 games in goal for Buffalo between 1972-73 and 1974-75.
In 1972-73, Norm played 48 of Cincinnati’s 76 regular season games. In the playoffs, he appeared in an additional 12 games. His backup was Gary Bromley, another goalie that would go on to appear in the NHL with the Sabres. Bromley played in three of the team’s playoff games.
The life of the Cincinnati Swords was short and sweet. The team was an expansion franchise in the American Hockey League for the 1971-72 season. With the Cincinnati Stingers entering the World Hockey Association for 1974-75, the Swords simply folded up shop and the franchise ceased to exist.
The affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres enjoyed decent playoff success in their three years. Along with winning the Calder Cup championship in 1972-73, the team fell in the semi-finals to the Baltimore Clippers in their first year and to the Hershey Bears in the quarter-finals in their final season.
The Swords played home games at the Cincinnati Gardens. The venue opened in 1949 and seats 10,208. Despite the much larger Riverfront Coliseum opening in 1975, the Gardens remains active today.
The Nationals began play in the OHL for the 1965-66 season. The remained named the Nationals until the end of the 1967-68 season. The team changed its colour scheme and name to the Knights for the 1968-69 season. In their first year, the team was coached by Jack McIntyre and in the following two years, Turk Broda was head coach of the Nationals.
As the Nationals, the franchise reached the Robertson Cup playoffs in their second and third years in the league but did not win a series. In 1966-67, they fell to the Niagara Falls Flyers. In 1967-68, their opening round loss was to the Hamilton Red Wings.