The Rise and Demise of the Brooklyn Skating Club

Posted on Behind the Boards (SIHR Blog). The ice hockey team of the Skating Club of Brooklyn, colloquially known as the Brooklyn Skating Club,...
  1. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    The ice hockey team of the Skating Club of Brooklyn, colloquially known as the Brooklyn Skating Club, appeared as one of the four founding clubs during the inaugural 1896–97 season of the New York based American Amateur Hockey League (AAHL). The three others being the Brooklyn Crescents, the St. Nicholas Hockey and the New York Athletic Club. The two Brooklyn clubs played their home games at the Clermont Avenue Skating Rink in Brooklyn, while the St. Nicks and the New York Athletic Club played their home games at the St. Nicholas Skating Rink on the northeast corner of 66th Street and Columbus Avenue in Manhattan.

    During its first season in the AAHL the Skating Club, playing in light blue sweaters with “S. C. B.” in white letters on the chest of the sweaters, drew its players from the local American ranks, the most prominent one being forward and captain Howard Drakeley, a football player originally from Baltimore. 27-year old Jack Hallock from Jersey City guarded the goal posts, and the team also got brief help during the season from John Hall and William Barnett, two players from Yale University’s intercollegiate hockey team. Drakeley scored a team leading 6 goals for the season, but the team finished third in the league standing, well behind the New York Athletic Club and the St. Nicholas Hockey Club.[1]

    For the following 1897–98 season the Skating Club brought in a number of Canadian players to better compete with the two teams from Manhattan. Forwards Bob Wall and Bill Dobby were recruited from the Montreal Shamrocks of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC), the premier amateur league in Canada at the time. Dobby had led the 1896–97 Shamrocks in goal scoring and Wall had been its captain. Dobby and Wall both made a significant impact on the Skating Club, and although the team again finished third in the league standing, once again behind the New York Athletic Club and the St. Nicholas Hockey Club, the gap to the two Manhattan teams was much closer this time around, with the Skating Club trailing only by two points in the league standing.

    [​IMG]
    1897–98 Brooklyn Skating Club team​

    The Brooklyn Skating Club won its first and only league title in 1898–99 in impressive fashion, winning all of its 8 games and finishing 6 points ahead of the second placed New York Hockey Club. Frank Ellison, a former ice polo player, had taken over the job as the main goal-guardian from Jack Hallock. Diminutive forward Sarsfield “Sars” Kennedy, formerly of the Barrie Hockey Club of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), had joined the team for the season, and the Skating Club also got help up front from another Canadian import in forward William Murray. With all the new Canadian forwards former goal-getter Howard Drakeley moved down to a more defensive position at cover point. Bill Dobby led the league with 21 goals in 8 games, eight more than second placed Benny Phillips of the New York Hockey Club.

    “Dobby was like a cat. He looked ungainly, hardly a hockey player from appearances,
    but he could sneak through the defense with a sly movement
    and then rap out a quick shot at the goalie. He was a great man in a pinch.”[2]


    – Former teammate Sars Kennedy describing Bill Dobby in 1932


    [​IMG]
    Clermont Avenue Skating Rink​

    The rivaling Brooklyn Crescents had been out of the league for two seasons – in 1897–98 and 1898–99 – but the team reappeared for new league action in 1899–1900. The core players of the Brooklyn Skating Club – including Wall, Dobby and Kennedy – were all members of the Crescents parent organization, the Crescent Athletic Club, where they played lacrosse. So when the Crescents reappeared in the league in 1899–1900 all of the core players on the Skating Club conveniently jumped over to the rivaling Brooklyn team. The Brooklyn Crescents also brought in Canadian forward Jock Harty of Queen’s University fame which made the team even stronger.

    The Brooklyn Skating Club tried to make up for the exodus of players by recruiting new talent, both from Canada and from the local ranks. Promising Canadian sharpshooter Artie Liffiton, a brother of fellow hockey players Charlie and Ernie Liffiton, joined from the local Heffley School team. Liffiton made a good showing (11 goals in as many games), but he couldn’t make up for the loss of Dobby, Wall and Kennedy all by himself. With the old championship core gone the Skating Club finished fourth in the league standing for the 1899–1900 season, while the Crescents ran away with the championship winning 10 out of 10 games.

    Artie Liffiton played another season with the Skating Club, in its new maroon and white coloured sweaters, scoring 10 goals in 10 games in 1900–01, before joining the Crescents himself for the 1901–02 campaign. William Murray was also back with the Skating Club in 1900–01, after having been off the team for a year, but he got himself barred from the league for life after only three games after he clubbed Fred Cobb of the New York Athletic Club in the head with his stick during a January 16 game.[3] The team finished tied third in the standing alongside the St. Nicholas Hockey Club.

    It soon became evident that the Skating Club no longer could compete with the better teams in the league, namely the Brooklyn Crescents and the New York Athletic Club. In the following seasons the team would rely more and more on local intermediate or interscholastic talents, either from the Heffley School or from the Polytechnic Preparatory School, and less on high profile Canadian imports.

    For the 1902–03 season the Skating Club recruited Toronto native forward George Harmon to their ranks, and Harmon went on to lead the team in scoring with 8 goals in 7 games. Harmon had a friend from his high school years in Toronto also living in New York at the time, named Walter Huston. Harmon convinced Huston to try out with the club, and the 19-year old youngster got into a league game on January 7, 1903 as a defenseman, with the Skating Club losing 2 goals to 10 against the New York Hockey Club.[4] Huston didn’t appear in any other league game with the Skating Club, but instead went on with his promising acting career.[5] He is better known today as the patriarch of the famous Huston acting family – including his son John Huston and granddaughter Anjelica Huston – than he is as a hockey player.

    [​IMG]
    1903–04 team​

    Tom “Attie” Howard took helm of the Brooklyn Skating Club for the 1905–06 season, as a playing manager. Howard was a former Stanley Cup champion with the Winnipeg Victorias in 1896, and between 1899 and 1905 he had been a member of the New York Athletic Club and the New York Wanderers in the AAHL. The Brooklyn Skating Club had been a non-factor in the league, either at the mid-range or at the very bottom of the standing, ever since its old Canadian core had left for the Brooklyn Crescents prior to the 1899–1900 season. Howard attempted to change the course of the team, and make it competitive again, by recruiting a number of new Canadian players, among them Horace Gaul of the Ottawa Hockey Club. He also tried to recruit Frank “Pud” Glass of the Montreal Wanderers and Ernie “Moose” Johnson of the Montreal Hockey Club.

    Horace Gaul got into one league game for the Skating Club – a decisive 0-6 loss to the Brooklyn Crescents on December 20, 1905 – but the league’s rules committee went down hard on the Skating Club, barring all of the Canadian imports on ground of its Clause 9 resident rule. The rule stated that a player had to be a member of the team for at least 30 days before being eligible to represent it.[6] Tom Howard was also cautioned against by the league committee for using abusive language on the ice during the December 20 game against the Brooklyn Crescents. The whole transfer imbroglio ended with the Skating Club departing from the league after playing only two games of the 1905–06 league schedule, and the team effectively ceased its operations.

    With the Brooklyn Skating Club out of the picture hockey as a sport also vanished from Brooklyn ice for over a decade, since the Brooklyn Crescents moved over to the St. Nicholas Skating Rink. In 1916–17, the last season of the AAHL, the Crescents finally moved back to Brooklyn and into the newly opened Brooklyn Ice Palace at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Bedford Avenue.


    Sources:

    [1] Spalding’s Ice Hockey and Ice Polo Guide (1898) by J. A. Tuthill (ed.)
    [2] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 20, 1932
    [3] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 18, 1901
    [4] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 8, 1903
    [5] September Song: An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston (1998) by John Weld
    [6] New York Times, Jan. 1, 1906


    Posted on Behind the Boards (SIHR Blog)
     
  2. Theokritos Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    11,336
    Likes Received:
    3,281
    Trophy Points:
    206
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Terrific write-up.

    Was the American Amateur Hockey League the pre-eminent amateur league in the USA during the time of its existence or were there contenders? I do know that there that very early professional or semi-professional league in Pittsburgh circa 1900.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  3. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    It was New York and Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh league, as you pointed out, became semi-professional relatively fast (around 1903 or 1904), and it also didn't run for as many years. WPHL ran for just 9 seasons, with a gap in-between 1903–1904 and 1907–08. AAHL ran for 20 consecutive years and only ceased when WW1 became too much of a presence. AAHL drew some nice players – like Tom Howard, the Cleghorn brothers, and Hobey Baker – but they were really strict on the amateur & resident rules. So yes, in the States it became the pre-eminent amateur league for the first little while there (two decades). Although the farm systems were a lot on the intercollegiate Ivy League scene.
     
  4. Theokritos Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    11,336
    Likes Received:
    3,281
    Trophy Points:
    206
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Were there any head-to-head comparisons between the AAHL and Canadian clubs during the time the league existed?
     
  5. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Ya, the St. Nicholas Skating Rink was quite a popular destination for amateur Canadian teams over the years there, during the 00s and 10s. I don't have a complete list at hand at the moment, but I know for a fact the best teams in the AAHL (most often Brooklyn Crescents or the New York Athletic Club) could compete on relatively even terms with the "worst best" (so to speak) Canadian amateur teams, which was most often the Montreal Victorias with Russell Bowie (& Blair Russel). The Victorias visiting New York was a quite recurring theme, but other Canadian teams such as the Univ. of Toronto team also came down on occasion, and the Ottawa Cliffsides (with Punch Broadbent). Univ. of Toronto team was really impressing with Herb Clarke (brief NHA player and good NHA scorer before he retired very early) as the standout player.

    Here below are two Brooklyn Daily Eagle recaps, of a 1909 game where NYAC beat the Victorias 8 goals to 6, and a 1908 game where the Victorias beat the NYAC by the same score, 8 goals to 6. In 1908 NYAC finished 2nd in the AAHL, and in 1909 1st. In 1908 Victorias finished 5th (of six teams) in the ECAHA, and in 1909 they finished 2nd in the IPAHU.

    In the late 1890s the Montreal Shamrocks briefly toured New York splitting games (2-1, 0-1) with the New York Hockey Club, and the New York Hockey Club although a relatively good side at the time wasn't the best team in New York.

    But yeah, the best Canadian teams in general were obviously better than the best American ones, although those American teams often had cores made out of Canadian expats.

    The Russell Bowie thing is perhaps interesting considering the project going on at this board (HOH) at the moment, and the ongoing all-time ranking debate around him. One would perhaps think that a Montreal Victorias team with two HHOFers (Bowie & Russel) on it would tackle American amateur teams a little bit better, but who knows. Perhaps they didn't have that great depth on the Vics, or perhaps it had something to do with the circumstances regarding the seven-man game, or exhibition games, or whatever. I don't know, but it's an interesting thing.


    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1909

    [​IMG]

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 22, 1908

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
    Sanf, tarheelhockey and kaiser matias like this.
  6. Theokritos Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    11,336
    Likes Received:
    3,281
    Trophy Points:
    206
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Good stuff.

    What are the earliest instances of organized hockey being played in New York City or the surrounding area? I think ice polo was played there before hockey took over and I guess that was not too long before 1896?
     
  7. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Yeah, ice polo was played in and around New York, as in New England, and a group of intercollegiate ice polo players (led by Malcolm Chace, photo below) toured Canada in the winter of 1894–95, picking up on hockey, popularizing it while bringing it back with them.

    Otherwise the big early plant school for US hockey was at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire (where students prepped before going to the Ivy League schools, et cetera). Concord's a bit from New York though. But that's where Hobey Baker came through, in the late 00s. The big name in St. Paul's School hockey history outside of Baker is Malcolm Gordon who ran their program for many years as a coach. Gordon is the short guy standing far left in the back row in the SPS team photo below (from 1897).

    [​IMG]
    Left to right Charles Pope, George Matteson, F. H. Clarkson, Alexander Meiklejohn,
    Malcolm Chace, Bill Larned, William Jones, Arthur Foote & George Wright.

    [​IMG]
    Malcolm Gordon standing at far left in the back row. St. Paul's School team (1897).
     
  8. Sanf Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,546
    Likes Received:
    529
    Trophy Points:
    109
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Great work!

    Haven´t done nearly as much research on New York hockey so can´t say much to add.

    Tom Howard is name that ofthen comes up in my researches too. Slightly controversial and seemed to have some conflicts.
     
  9. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Thanks. Tom Howard became a coach after he quit playing himself in 1906, mostly at the Ivy League schools. Coached at Yale & Columbia, but also briefly in the New York league. He wife Kathleen and two sons (Tom Jr. & Jack) were also into hockey as coach & players respectively.

    He also edited the Spalding hockey guides, which are gold from a research perspective.

    As a player I think he most certainly had a temperament, but I don't think he was particularly dirty. I remember reading about him getting into scrums though as a coach while coaching his eldest son. Perhaps Tom Jr. was a bit on the rough side too, and when things got serious Tom Sr. involved himself, so to speak, while defending his son.
     
  10. Sanf Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,546
    Likes Received:
    529
    Trophy Points:
    109
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Very early Chicago was also a factor in hockey in USA. Dr. Herbert A. Parkyn formed/captained Chicago Hockey Club (All-Chicago team) that travelled to Pittsburgh to play games against Pittsburgh teams in the old Casino rink in 1896. They won all four. 9-1 against P.A.C. (though the game was played with ball due to problems with ice), Western University 8-0, Duquesnes 6-1 and Casinos 3-1.

    Though ofcourse in years after that Chicago wasn´t that relevant.

    Dr. Herbert A. Parkyn is also bit of forgotten man. He was the man behind the first game of University of Minnesota (edit. poorly phrased. First international game. Some games against Minneapolis was played just prior that.) against Winnipeg Victorias in 1895 and then moved to Chicago and was man behind C.A.A. hcokey in 1895-1896. To my understanding that was also the first hockey season in Chicago.

    Haven´t fact checked all of this, but gives picture of Parkyn.
    The First Pride on Ice Coach 1895 TBT

    edit. cant count
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
    sr edler likes this.
  11. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Yes, Dr. Parkyn was an interesting guy. Big center forward. Came up through Queen's University (Kingston, ON) system and also played in Toronto before moving to Minnesota.

    Became a physician later in life specializing in suggestive therapeutics. He wrote books on the subject entitled Suggestive Therapeutics and Hypnotism and Auto Suggestions.
     
  12. Sanf Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,546
    Likes Received:
    529
    Trophy Points:
    109
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Do you have any opinions why the level of hockey seem to drop in New York in the 1910´s? From mid 10´s they were underdogs against teams from Boston and Pittsburgh. Early years in USAHA were also quite poor.

    I know that there were some rink promblems. Always found it curious that New York had small rinks even for todays standards. St. Nicholas rink was 190x80 and the others were even smaller (IIRC). While old Boston Arena was 250x90 (burned in 1918) and Arenas from Pittsburgh I have seen mentioned that Winter Garden was close to 300 and Duquesne from 250 to 270. Those are quite the difference when trying to play the same game.
     
  13. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Yeah, the rinks are interesting. New York Hockey Club moved away from their Ice Palace at Lexington already in 1898–99, and then the Crescents abandoned the Clermont Rink in 1906. Both times for the St. Nicholas Rink. According to my book info Lexington was 265 feet at length (at max capacity), and with a width of 71 feet, whereas Clermont measured at 185-by-90 feet.

    The Brooklyn Ice Palace when it opened in 1916–17 was 200-by-56 which was super thin, even below the required width measurement of 58, but the next year in 1917–18 they expanded it to 85.

    As for why New York dropped to Boston in the mid to late 1910s, I just think the Boston/Massachusetts/New England area (with Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale) had a larger & more organic base of growth, than New York. Also closer to St. Paul's School, New Hampshire where Hobey Baker (et al.) came from. Especially Harvard developed a lot of devoted guys. You had Ralph Winsor for instance honing his hockey coaching skills there, and also player Trafford Hicks who wrote an instructive series of articles on hockey for the Boston Globe entitled "Hints for Young Hockey Players" (see below).

    Fred Roqcue came down from Sherbrooke, and coached at Boston College, Dartmouth & Yale. New York area had Tom Howard, but they didn't have as much depth there behind him.

    American vs Canadian style (Trafford Hicks) - Newspapers.com

    [​IMG]

    Hints for young hockey players - Newspapers.com

    [​IMG]
     
    Sanf likes this.
  14. Theokritos Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    11,336
    Likes Received:
    3,281
    Trophy Points:
    206
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    Fantastic clippings in the post above! "Left center" and "right center"? Wow.
     
  15. Sanf Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,546
    Likes Received:
    529
    Trophy Points:
    109
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    I guess bit more mainstream question, but how do you view Hobey Baker overall?

    Personally I haven´t been entirely sold on the legend. He was excellent offensive player and there was certainly big hype. Though what I have got the feeling that the biggest hype came from the rather small sample size of games against Canadian teams.

    Especially the 1916 amateur championship games against B.A.A. in 1916 were rather alarming considering his legend. St. Nicholas and Baker were badly outplayed by B.A.A. and Ray Skilton (Though Santa Claus men won the second, but I believe B.A.A outshot them in that game too). Baker scored one goal in three games. He did seem offensive star who had very little defensive game. And couldn´t handle physicaal play very well (atleast this is the feeling I got from reeading the games he was matched up against Skilton.)
     
  16. sr edler whom

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,848
    Likes Received:
    3,924
    Trophy Points:
    176
    SB Cash:
    $ 50,000
    I don't know. I haven't really thought much about how Baker would compare in an all-time sense because that just feels like such an abstract exercise. Baker was somewhat of an odd cat in the sense that he was vehemently against the pro game, and against the rough game too, so I think he probably would have gotten killed (as in injured a lot) in the NHA. In the PCHA perhaps the Patricks could have protected him a bit better, but we don't know that, PCHA had some rough house antics going on too. The Cleghorns & Cooper Smeaton roughed up the AAHL in 1910, and the St. Nicks team at the time didn't like it. This was 5 or so years before Hobey, when was just about to leave New Hampshire (SPS) for New Jersey (Princeton). Some of the St. Nicks guys actually quit the game after 1910 because their parents objected to the over-the-top rough stuff.

    I think Baker was an excellent skater and puck rusher, and a guy who could create stuff on his own, but outside of those qualities it's kinda hard to tell. Was he a great goal scorer? Probably not in an all-time sense, at least. Was he a great playmaker? Hard to tell, probably not in an all-time sense. I think he was pretty versatile though, from an offensive side of things. He probably would have won about 10 or so Lady Byngs though, if healthy enough to play so many seasons, because he was good looking, had tons of charisma & didn't take any penalties.
     
    Sanf likes this.

Share This Page

Presented in Association with the Society for International Hockey Research
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "358c248ada348a047a4b9bb27a146148"