The Oklahoma City Blazers were Central Hockey League (then known as the Central Professional Hockey League) champions in 1966-67, both during the regular season and playoffs. How could they not be? The team had not one, but two future Hockey Hall of Fame members between the pipes.
The Blazers had a basket full of working class stiffs on the roster that would go on to grind out decent careers in the National Hockey League. Among them were Terry Crisp, Wayne Cashman, Jean Pronovost, Glen Sather, J.P. Parise, Ross Lonsberry, Dallas Smith, Gary Doak and Bill Goldsworthy. Yet, it was the goaltending trio of Bernie Parent, Gerry Cheevers and Doug Favell that led the way.
Oklahoma City finished first in the seven team CHL with 38 wins and 85 points over the 70 game regular season schedule. The Blazers finished just three points ahead of the Fred Shero coached Omaha Knights. In the playoffs, Oklahoma City met the Houston Apollos in the semi-finals and won the series in six games. In the finals, it was Shero’s Knights trying to knock off the Blazers. Omaha fell in five games.
Parent played fourteen regular season games with the Blazers and recorded an amazing four shutouts. He was called up to the NHL’s Boston Bruins and played 18 games there to round out his 1966-67 season.
Bernie played junior hockey with the Niagara Falls Flyers in 1963-64 and 1964-65. Parent played an important role in the Flyers capturing the Memorial Cup in 1965 with a victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
He played in the NHL from 1965-66 to 1978-79 with the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers. For the 1972-73 season, he jumped to the fledgling World Hockey Association for the rebel league’s inaugural season. Bernie played most of the games for the Philadelphia Blazers before returning to the NHL the following season.
With the Flyers, Parent was a key factor in the team winning their only two Stanley Cup championships in franchise history. All with the victories in 1973-74 and 1974-75, Parent was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP both years, along with winning the Vezina Trophy both years. Bernie was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
Cheevers played 26 regular season games with the Blazers and all of the team’s eleven playoff games. Like Bernie Parent, Gerry saw action in the NHL in 1966-67 with the Bruins, appearing in 22 games.
Gerry played his junior hockey with Toronto St. Michael’s in 1959-60 and 1960-61. He saw his first NHL action in the form of two games with the Maple Leafs during the 1961-62 season. He wouldn’t see regular action until 1965-66 with the Bruins. He played in the NHL until the end of the 1979-80 season, all with Boston, with exception of a four year stint in the WHA.
Cheevers played in the WHA from 1972-73 to 1975-76 with the Cleveland Crusaders. He left the team midway through the 1975-76 season to rejoin the Bruins. With Boston, Gerry was part of two Stanley Cup winning teams in 1969-70 and 1971-72. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
Favell played the most for the Blazers during the regular season with 31 games. His hockey career was often intertwined with that of Bernie Parent in some way. Doug backed up Bernie with the Niagara Falls Flyers in 1963-64 and 1964-65. Favell was the starting goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers until Parent came to town after his one year stint in the WHA. With Bernie coming in, Favell headed to Toronto to fill a void left by Parent a year before.
The only player to be selected in both the 1967 and 1979 NHL Expansion Draft, Favell played in the National Hockey League from 1967-68 to 1978-79 with the Flyers, Maple Leafs and Colorado Rockies. The Flyers took him in the 1967 draft and the Edmonton Oilers took him in 1979. Of course, he never played with the Oilers.