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The Victoria Maple Leafs were a minor pro ice hockey team in the Western Hockey League that played three seasons in Victoria, British Columbia, beginning in 1964. The previous season they had played as the Invaders in Denver, Colorado, winning the regular season with the best record in the Western Hockey League. In 1967 they became the Phoenix Roadrunners.
From 1959 to 1963 the team had played as the Spokane Comets.
They were the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Victoria Cougars entered the WHL as an expansion team for the 1949-50 season. In 1961 they moved to Los Angeles to become the Blades. In 1964, the Denver Invaders were moved to Victoria and the rights to the Cougars' name were purchased by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Stafford Smythe who in turn renamed them the Maple Leafs.
The team logo was a stylized blue maple leaf, with the words "Victoria Maple Leafs" on it. They played in the Victoria Memorial Arena which opened in 1949 and sat 5033 spectators. Andy Stephen called the games for local CKDA radio. Fans of the team were well known for chanting the parent-team's cheer, "Go Leafs Go!"
Following the 1966-67 season, the Maple Leafs moved to Phoenix to become the Roadrunners, where they played until the WHL's demise in 1974. In Phoenix, the franchise won the last two WHL championships in 1973 and 1974. The Roadrunners then competed in the WHA in 1974-75 using essentially the same team from the previous year.
1964-65 season Edit
The Maple Leafs finished the 1964-65 season with a 32-36-2 W-L-T record in fourth place in the 6-team league, making the WHL playoffs. Milan Marcetta led the team in scoring with 34 goals and 46 assists, and Larry Keenan scored 35 goals. Victoria sported four 30-goal scorers. Journeyman goaltender Al Millar played 63 games and future NHL goaltender Gary Smith also played in seven. The Leafs beat the Seattle Totems in a seven game semi-final, but lost to the Portland Buckaroos in 5 games for the championship.
Millar played 10 playoff games in goal, with Jean-Guy Morissette playing the other two.
1965-66 season Edit
In the 1965-66 season, the Maple Leafs defeated the San Francisco Seals in a seven game semi-final, to set up a rematch of the previous year's final. They beat the regular season champion Buckaroos in seven games to capture their only Lester Patrick Cup in Victoria and the first for the franchise going back to Denver and Spokane.
They finished the regular season in second place, with a 40-28-4 record under coach Frank Mario. Milan Marcetta repeated as team scoring leader with 28 goals and 54 assists. Bob Barlow scored 42 goals and added 39 assists, Lou Jankowski scored 32 and Andy Hebenton added 31. Marcetta got 7 goals and 13 assists to win the playoff scoring title and Barlow scored another 10 goals and 9 assists tying Portland's Art Jones for second place in playoff scoring.
Barlow earned a place on the WHL First All-Star team.
Journeyman Al Millar started 51 games as goaltender before being sent to the Tulsa Oilers of the CPHL and John Henderson played in 24. With Millar gone, Henderson started all 14 playoff games.
1966-67 season Edit
In their last season in the WHL, the Maple Leafs finished out of the playoffs with a fifth-place 30-34-8 W-L-T record. Buck Houle was the General Manager and Frank Mario was the coach. Milan Marcetta continued as the team's top goal and point scorer with 40 goals and 35 assists. Bruce Carmichael added 30 goals. Gary Smith started 17 games for Victoria in the net. Al Smith had started the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs but arrived in time to play 55 games for Victoria. Al Smith went on to play in the NHL with Toronto and five other teams over nine seasons, as well as the New England Whalers of the WHA.
Marcetta's output in Victoria earned him a trip to Toronto to play 3 playoff games for the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs where his name is engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|1964-65||70||32||36||2||66||246||242||926||4th||Lost final (Portland Buckaroos)|
|1965-66||72||40||28||4||84||260||243||735||2nd||Won Lester Patrick Cup|
|1966-67||72||30||34||8||68||224||232||613||5th||Did not qualify|