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Griffins, Moose mark historic AHL night

The only game on Tuesday’s AHL schedule pits Grand Rapids against North Division rival Manitoba in the first of a two-game set at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. Tonight’s game comes on a historic night for the American Hockey League, as today marks the 70th anniversary of the first games in AHL history.

On Nov. 7, 1936, the International-American Hockey League – as it was known until 1940 – began its first season with all eight teams in action:

The Springfield Indians earned a 3-0 victory over the Providence Reds on opening night. The Indians would go on to become one of the most storied franchises in AHL history, playing a total of 51 seasons and winning seven Calder Cup championships; the Reds played in Rhode Island until 1977, winning four Calder Cups of their own. The two New England cities still have AHL hockey, with the Falcons and Bruins having been rivals for more than a decade.

The Syracuse Stars defeated the Buffalo Bisons, 3-2, in the teams’ opener. The Stars’ Jack Markle would lead the IAHL in scoring with 60 points that year, helping the club win the first Calder Cup. The Bisons’ immediate future was not so bright; financially strapped during the Great Depression after their arena in Fort Erie, Ont., burned down, Buffalo folded just 11 games into the 1936-37 season.

Led by future Hockey Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall Sr., the Philadelphia Ramblers opened their IAHL season with a 4-2 win over the visiting New Haven Eagles. The Ramblers won two division titles in their first three seasons, but the Calder Cup was not brought to Philadelphia until the Phantoms won it in 1998 and again in 2005. The Eagles folded during the 1942-43 season as teams in all sports struggled to thrive during World War II.

The Pittsburgh Hornets beat the Cleveland Falcons, 4-2, on that night 70 years ago. The Hornets played a total of 27 seasons in the American Hockey League and won three Calder Cups before the franchise gave way to the NHL’s expansion Pittsburgh Penguins in 1967. The Falcons changed their name to the Barons in 1937 and became arguably the most successful team in AHL history, winning nine Calder Cups in 26 years from 1938-64.

The Griffins and Moose get underway at 8:30 p.m. (ET) tonight. Don’t miss any of the action — check out theahl.com’s real-time scoreboard or tune into B2 Networks’ live video webcast.