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  • Home: Cincinnati, OH
  • Stadium: Riverfront Coliseum (15,820)
  • Team synopsis: Team came into play during the height of the WHA's heyday, the '75 - '76 season, but never lived up to expectations. The club missed the playoffs three of their four years in existance. Lasted until the end of the league in '79, but wasn't included in the NHL/WHA merger. Biggest names were Blaine Stoughton (50 goal man), Rick Dudley (future Buffalo Sabre) and Mark Messier.
  • With the WHA enjoying a fair bit of prosperity in the early going, they awarded a franchise to Brian Deekhan and Bill Dewitt in late 1973 for Cincinnati. The league planned to expand to 14 teams and the Stingers began the '75-'76 season along with fellow expansion team Denver Spurs, who would last all of 41 games which included a transfer to Ottawa. The Stingers had a natural rivalry waiting for them in the form of the Cleveland Crusaders, one of the league's stronger clubs. And with both teams in new state of the art buildings, the potential for one of hockey's toughest rivalries seemed a natural. They debuted with a good mix of youngprospects, including Claude Larose, who'd finish second in voting for rookie of the year and players picked up through the dispersal draft, including Phoenix's Dennis Sobchuk, who'd go on to be a 30 goal-man. Despite a steadily-improving season and a late run, they finished their inaugural season last in the Eastern Division with 71 points and missed the playoffs. But perhaps just as importantly, the Crusaders were floundering and moved to Minnesota, replacing the recently departed Fighting Saints.

    Though the loss of a cross-state playmate was a blow, the Stingers had a growing following and the start of the '76-'77 campaign showed potential. They picked up Rich Leduc from the Crusaders and Blaine Stoughton, a highly touted NHLer with the Penguins and Leafs. Both netted 50+ goals, helping the team score 69 more than the previous year and would improve in the goals against department by 37, coupled with the strong defensive play of Ron Plumb. With the league reverting back to a two division system again, Cincinnati was placed in the East, where they finished second with 83 points, fifth best in the league. They went up against expansion Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs, but were swept by the upstart Racers in 4 straight.

    Despite the team's early exit from the playoffs the year before, they entered the '77-'78 season with high hopes. With the demise of 4 teams, the league's future no longer looked so grand. Still attendance at Riverfront Coliseum was holding relatively strong by WHA standards, filling to an average of 60% capacity over their first two years. They landed junior goalie Mike Liut that summer to help solve their defensive woes along with Norm Lapointe, another draft who was 'underage' by NHL standards at the time. They also picked up Robbie Ftorek from the now defunct Phoenix Roadrunners. Despite the apparent improvements, their defensive play was fairly strong but they dropped 65 in the goals department. With the divisional alignment system done away with, the Stingers made a last dash for the playoffs, but were knocked out of the hunt on the last game of the season, finishing 7th with 73 points. But by this time the merger between the WHA and NHL was now all but done. The owners made the decision to play out the final season - while making a last-ditch attempt to get into the 'big brother'.

    When the '78-'79 season began, the league lost one of it's founding teams, the Houston Aeros and rumours were already abound that the league's demise was imminent. League and team officials were already devising a strategy to get into the NHL should that occur. Unfortunately though, the closest Cincinnati has ever gotten to the NHL was a pre-season exhibition 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. On-ice the Stingers' performance was spotty at best. The season wasn't even half-way through when the folding of the Racers dropped the league to 6 teams, which resulted in Cincinnati claiming a very young Mark Messier for the remainder of the season. All the problems going on and off the ice was affecting play, and scoring the least goals of all, they finished a distant 5th with 72 points and out of the hunt again. It was announced shortly after that the Stingers and Birmingham Bulls wouldn't be going to the NHL with the other 4 despite a massive ad campaign.

    The inclusion of Cincinnati into the NHL seemed like one of the more likely choices. With their Cleveland Barons struggling at the gate, a reason they left Oakland, the Stingers would've had a natural rivalry once again. But unfortunately after the folding of the Barons a year later, the state of Ohio went without pro hockey until the Blue Jackets swarmed into Columbus for the 2000-2001 season.

    Cincinnati Stingers '76-'77 Cincinnati Stingers '77-'78
    Serge Aubrey Bryan Campbell Michel Dion Robbie Ftorek Pierre Guite John Hughes Normand Lapointe Claude Larose Rich Leduc Jacques Locas Bryan Maxwell Mark Messier Ron Plumb Dennis Sobchuk Blaine Stoughton

    SEASON W L T P GF GA PIM SEASON FINISH
    1975-1976 35 44 1 71 285 340 1344 missed playoffs
    1976-1977 39 37 5 83 354 303 0970 ROUND #1: lost to Racers in 4 straight
    1977-1978 35 42 3 73 298 332 1701 missed playoffs
    1978-1979 33 41 6 72 274 284 1651 missed playoffs

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