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Vintage Ice Hockey's mission is to celebrate defunct hockey teams that don't take the ice anymore, many of which still have a special place in people's hearts and memories. To do that, we're creating apparel for these teams that, in many cases, simply doesn't exist anywhere else.
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Vintage Apparel & Collectibles for Maryland Minor League Hockey Teams
Welcome Maryland hockey fans! We're proud to offer and exclusive collection of Maryland minor league hockey apparel for six historic minor league hockey franchises from Baltimore and beyound. From the Baltimore Clippers to the Skipjacks and even the short-lived Chesapeake Icebreakers our retro hockey t-shirts, jerseys, hats, hoodies, drinkware, and commemorative merchandise pay tribute to these one-of-a-kind Maryland minor league hockey teams that don’t take the ice any longer but should still be remembered. We're a family-run, hockey-loving small business dedicated to bringing back the history and designs of fondly remembered and long-lost hockey teams from Maryland and across the US and Canada!
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Hockey Teams in Maryland
The history of pro hockey in Maryland spans over 90 years, since the first team started play way back in 1932. For the most part, the history of hockey in Maryland is the history of hockey in Baltimore, as almost all of the state's pro teams have played there.
It all starts with the Baltimore Orioles back in 1932 but not the baseball kind. A hockey team of the same name that played out of Carlin's Iceland in the 30s and 40s. Carlin's Iceland was part of Carlin's Park, an amusement park in the city at that time. The Orioles played in the Eastern Hockey League, which would have been the equivalent of AA or the ECHL today. The Orioles played until 1942, and the US' entry into WWII.
Team photo of the Baltimore Orioles hockey team
Win You Baltimore Clippers!
After the War, hockey resumed at Carlin's Iceland but this time it wasn't the Orioles, it would be the first iteration of the Baltimore Clippers. Those Clippers would play until 1955, when the rink at Carlin's burned down and temporarily ended hockey in Baltimore. The original Clippers would move to Charlotte and become the Charlotte Clippers.
The Baltimore Clippers that would become an iconic hockey team in Baltimore started play in the AHL in 1962-63. They were the first tenant in the brand new Baltimore Civic Center (now CFG Bank Arena). These Clippers would play at the Civic Center for two decades, through the 1980-81 season and wore an iconic orange and black sailor logo and color scheme. Even better - they're one of the few hockey teams we know of that had their own fight song!
While the Clippers never won an AHL title, they did field some great teams and made it all the way to the Finals in the 1971-72 season. They also boast some legendary alumni such as Eddie Giacomin, Gillies Villemure, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, and Jean Ratelle.
Team photo of the 1973-74 Baltimore Clippers
By the mid-1970s the hockey world started to get shaken up by the emergence of the World Hockey Association (WHA). The WHA expanded to a number of cities and for the first time the NHL also expanded, greatly saturating the hockey market. The Clippers were in trouble during this time, and actually ended up folding during the 1974-75 season due to financial difficulties.
That same day, the WHA's Michigan Stags declared they were moving to Baltimore and would spend a half season in the Charm City. Renamed the Baltimore Blades, the franchise fled to Maryland during the middle of the 1974-75 season and ended up finishing the half-season in the Civic Center. The Blades even brought minor league legend Bill Oglethorpe and former NHLer Gerry Desjardins but wouldn't last long, as they folded after only a half season in Baltimore.
That wouldn't be the end of the Clippers though, as the team was resurrencted for the 1975-76 season after posting a performance bond to the AHL and selling 1,700 season tickets. The following year, 1976-77, the team dropped down to the Southern Hockey League (SHL) citing lower operating costs. The SHL was born three year earlier from the southern teams in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) breaking off and looking to form their own league closer to home. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the SHL was in a precarious place at the time and the league folded halfway through the season in January 1977. The Clippers would fold along with it.
But there was one last iteration of the storied Clipper name! The team was restarted by different owners in the resurrected EHL for the 1979-80 season. At this point the Clippers had a different green and yellow color scheme and new logo due to an affiliation with the North Stars. Unfortunately, the lower minor leagues were in flux at this time, and the Clippers would spend two years in the EHL before this league also disbanded.
The Baltimore Skipjacks
As the EHL folded, the owners of the Baltimore Clippers searched for a new alternative. From the ashes of the EHL, yet another short-lived minor league was formed; the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL). There, the owners of the Clippers decided for a rebrand and created the Baltimore Skipjacks. In their first season, 1981-82, the Skipjacks wore green and white. They also brought in a big name coach in IHL legend Moose Lallo. It was a rocky first season for the ACHL, with three teams folding. The Skipjacks finished third in the four team league.
Knowing the ACHL was not a great league and needing big league affiliation to keep their big league hockey dreams alive, the Skipjacks owners were able to secure a Pittsburgh Penguins affiliation and made the jump to the AHL. Baltimore was a high-level hockey town again. The Skipjacks traded their green and white colors for the Penguins' gold, white, and black and acquired almost a full roster of players. The Penguins decided to close up shop on their affiliation with the Erie Blades and sent their players to Baltimore.
The Skipjacks spent six seasons in yellow and gold and found success, making it to the AHL finals in 1985. Penguins such as Bob Errey, Phil Bourque, and Marty McSorley came through. Unfortunately, the Penguins pulled out after the 1986-87 and the Skipjacks solidered on with an unaffiliated season in 1987-88. With their source for players gone, the team went 13-58-9 that year. Luckily, they were able to secure a affiliation with the Washington Captials for the 1988-89 season. The team switched up their colors to match, sporting the Caps' red, white, and blue. Tons of Capitals talent came through the ranks including two big name coaches; Barry Trotz and Terry Murray. On the ice, Olaf Kolzig, Dmitri Kristich, Steve Konowalchuk, and future NHL coach Bruce Boudreau came through. The Skipjacks would have five seasons affiliated with Washington and only two of those were winning seasons. Unfortunately, the team would move to Portland, Maine at the end of the 1992-93 season citing financial losses. It was also a minor league game of musical chairs. As the Maine Mariners who had been in Portland moved to Providence, Rhode Island, the Skipjacks jumped to the open market in Maine and became the Portland Pirates.
The Baltimore Bandits
Unfortunately as the years went by, the Civic Center got older and older and hockey in Baltimore was a tougher and tougher sell. But even though the Baltimore Bandits were not a very memorable team in the history of Maryland hockey, we did get a super sweet raccoon logo out of it.
As the Baltimore Skipjacks left town and the game of musical chairs got sorted out, the Baltimore market a winter without hockey for only the second time since 1962. In 1995-96, the Bandits joined the AHL and secured an affiliation with the Mighty Ducks. Unfortunately, things got off to a really rough start for the Bandits. The team's original owners sold the team during the first season, supposedly owing the league and the Ducks $600,000. The Bandits did have a good first year on the ice, as they beat the Hershey Bears in the first round of the playoffs.
In their second season, the off-ice news was still not great as the team's owner pushed for funding for a new arena. However, the city had it's own arenas dreams and declined to help the Bandits' plan (neither plan ended up happening). The Bandits were sold to a Cincinnati based group at the end of their second season and were relocated to Cincy. Unfortunately Baltimore has been without big league hockey ever since.
Hockey Goes to the Horses
While most of Maryland's pro hockey history takes place in Baltimore, there was one more team that established itself outside of city limits. In 1997, the Chesapeake Icebreakers started play in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The Icebreakers answered two interesting questions with their choice of location; what happens if you put a team in the far suburbs? and what happens if you play in a horse arena?
The Icebreakers home arena was, yes, a multi-purpose facility called the Show Place more known for horse shows than hockey. They were also located outside the DC beltway, far out in the suburbs. While the team was able to draw relatively well for its stature at 2,500 fans per game, they suffered for a lack of media coverage, likely too far from DC for reporters to make the trip. Certainly too far from Baltimore.
On the ice, the Icebreakers did pretty well! They were coached by former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan and had future NHL netminder David Aebischer between the pipes. They won 68 games in two seasons and in their second season, earned a first round playoff bye. In the next round, they even knocked off the Columbus Chill!
Unfortunately after only two years in Upper Marlboro, the Icebreakers were moved to Mississippi. As far as we know, the Show Place has not hosted major hockey again.