All You Need to Know About The Old Cape Cod Cubs Hockey Team

Cape Cod Cubs 1972-73 Team Photo. Courtesy of

From 1972-1984 the Cape Cod Coliseum rivaled and at times surpassed the Cape Cod Melody Tent in terms of entertainment. One major way the Coliseum differed from the Tent was ice hockey. The 5,000-plus seat arena was originally built to hold hockey games. In fact when asked who the most famous tenants of the Cape Cod Coliseum were most people will say simply The Cubs.

In their tenure as an organization from 1972-1976 the team played a total of 138 games on the Coliseum ice. The organization, coaches, and players managed to carve out a niche and a legacy in four short years that is still reflected upon fondly to this day.

The plans to create a Cape Cod hockey team were announced in February 1971 by Richard ‘Bud’ Terrio, president of Cape Cod Sports Inc. Joined by GM Jack Crawford, treasurer Jack Newkirk Jr., clerk Robert Kendrick, and secretary Gordon Daggett the group would own the Cubs.

Interest in the fledgling hockey organization took off. By April 1972 there had been more than 1,000 inquiries about purchasing season tickets for the thirty-eight home games that would be played during the 1972-73 Eastern Hockey League season.

The Cubs organization was given credibility by Jack Crawford. The team’s general manager had an impressive resume. From 1938-1950 Crawford would play defenseman for the Boston Bruins and become an all-star in 1943 and 1946. Upon retiring he would coach 659 games in the American Hockey League for teams like the Hershey Bears and Providence Reds.

Cape Cod Cubs Jersey, Courtesy of

Anticipation grew for opening night of the EHL season and tickets were being gobbled up from all over. Ranging in price from $2.50 – $5 they were available at the Coliseum box office and at some special outlets around the Cape in places such as Puritan Clothing, Angelo’s Supermarkets, Dennis Public Market, Patti’s Rib House in West Dennis, and Paperback Booksmith in the Cape Cod Mall.

The first time the Cubs played on the home ice was October 2, 1972 in an exhibition game against the Clinton Comets out of New York. The regular season debut would occur eleven days later on Friday the 13th of October in 1972 and be broadcast on WCOD by Jon Wetterlow.

Opening night would be a matchup against the New England Blades from West Springfield, Massachusetts. The raucous crowd would see the Cubs drop a close one 3-2. The inaugural season would be filled with highs and lows.

A high would come when the Cubs, led by Coach Bronco Horvath, would win the Central Division title with 83 points. A low came on January 17, 1973 when Jack Crawford would collapse while attending a game dying two days later at age fifty-six. The Cubs played inspired hockey as Left Winger Luc Simard and Center Jim Sherrit led the team with 123 points each. They rumbled into the playoffs in search of the Walker Cup, the EHL’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup.

The Cubs would sweep the Long Island Ducks in four games in Round 1. It would come to a screeching halt in Round 2 when they faced the juggernaut Syracuse Blazers and their 63-9-4 record. The Blazers swept the Cubs out in four games in route to winning the championship.

After a solid first season, things would go into flux. On May 1, 1973 the EHL folded, being split into the Southern Hockey League and North American Hockey League. The NAHL, which the Cubs joined, served as the inspiration for the film Slap Shot released in 1977.

CC Coliseum 2017, Photo Courtesy of Chris Setterlund

Shortly thereafter Cubs President Bud Terrio would step down with Jack Newkirk taking over. Despite the changes expectations were high as the 1973-74 season began.

Unfortunately the Cubs would finish with a losing record of 34-39-1 and would again fall in the second round of the playoffs. Coach Horvath would be fired and replaced with Larry Kish. Their less than stellar play would lead to dwindling attendance. The club was routinely drawing 2,000 people or less in the 5,000-plus seat arena. An average crowd of 2,500 or better was needed to assure the team of breaking even money-wise. Without that rumors began to swirl of the team’s demise in early-1974.

More changes came as the team entered their third season in 1974-75. The biggest shakeup was the changing of the name from the Cape Cod Cubs to the Cape Codders. Under the ownership of William Harrison, who also owned the Coliseum, they would become a minor-league affiliate of the New England Whalers and Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association.

The changes seemed to work at first as the debut of the Cape Codders was a resounding success, defeating the Maine Nordiques 11-3 on October 19, 1974. It would not last. Early in 1975 there were rumors of the Cape Cod Coliseum being put up for sale, with the building actually closing for 24-hours before an agreement was made that kept the Coliseum going. Led by future New Jersey Devils Head Coach John Kuniff’s 90 points the team made the playoffs despite a second losing season.

The Cape Codders entered their fourth season teetering on the edge. In December 1975 the team briefly folded due to a lack of funds. Money was raised to keep the team going however they would not make it. After fifty-two games of a seventy-four game schedule the Cape Codders would fold. Their final game would see the team drop a 7-5 score to the Beauce Jaros, from Quebec, in front of 1,700 fans at the Coliseum on February 11. Fittingly the vote to disassemble the team would take place on Friday the 13th of February 1976.

The Cape Cod Cubs/Cape Codders left a lasting legacy in their four short years. In all 36 out of 121 players who wore the uniform of the team would go on to play professionally in the WHA or NHL. The Cape Cod Coliseum would continue its run of success until 1984 when it was sold to become a warehouse for Christmas Tree Shops.

The Cubs name would be reborn in 2008 when a new squad would begin play in Falmouth as a part of the International Junior Hockey League. In 2011 the team would change their name to the Islanders. More than forty years since the original Cubs demise so many remember those nights at the Cape Cod Coliseum fondly when the Cape had its own hockey team.

By Christopher Setterlund
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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