• Let the Debate Begin! Nighthawks Brewing ranks the 10 Best Nighthawks ever.

    1. Tom Colley
      The only player in New Haven Nighthawks History to play more than 500 games for the team. No other player even played 300. (Dale Lewis is second appearing in 299 for the Nighthawks). Tom Colley is undoubtedly the greatest Nighthawk in their history. Leading them in games played (534), Goals (204), Assists (281) and Points (485). In the 1976-77 campaign Colley played 80 games, scored 37 goals, had an astounding 56 assists and added 4 more points in 6 playoff games. The following season Colley lead (with 86 total points) the 1977-78 Nighthawks to a Southern Division Championship and then to the AHL finals for the second time in 4 years. Unfortunately, the Nighthawks would to lose to the Maine Mariners in the finals. The next season, the 78-79 Nighthawks, again lead by Colley, would suffer the same fate, losing in the AHL finals to those same Maine Mariners, ending a golden era for the Nighthawks. They would not reach the AHL finals again until 1989.
    2. Bobby Nystrom
      Swedish born Bobby Nystrom had arguably the most post-Nighthawk success of all the players in Nighthawk history. Although he only played one season (1972-73) with New Haven, amassing 22 points in 60 games, this was his only minor league hockey season in his career. That season Nystrom also played 11 games for the NHL’s New York Islanders. The next season would begin his full-time career with the Islanders where he would stay for the rest of his entire professional hockey career (through the 1985-86 season as a player…he even was an assistant coach for the Islanders in 1987-1988). Nystrom’s NHL career numbers are impressive. In 900 career regular season games he had 513 points and 1248 minutes in the penalty box. In 157 career playoff games he added 83 more points to his total. He was a very reliable and talented player for the Islanders for a decade and a half. Nighthawk fans get to say they were there when he started his assent to stardom.
    1. Dave Hainsworth
      Although we may be biased (try our Dave’s Kick Save IPA), it is unquestionable that Dave Hainsworth is one of the most beloved New Haven area hockey players ever. Dave was born in Kitchener Ontario in 1948 at a time when the town you lived in determined which NHL farm system you joined. He spent his youth tending fields at his family’s farm in the warm months and tending goal the rest of the year. In 1968, at 19 years old he arrived in New Haven where he became one of the most popular players in history, playing for both the New Haven Blades from 1968-1972 and for the New Haven Nighthawks for 1981-1982 and again from 1984-1986. Dave also coached the Yale University hockey team and ran Hainsworth Sporting Goods for 20 years.
    1. Glenn “Chico” Resch
      “Chico” was one of the original Nighthawks and had an excellent one year with that original team as goaltender. Resch played in 43 games, over 2400 minutes, and had a save percentage of 89.7%. “Chico” would go on to play over 570 NHL games as goalkeeper for for the New York Islanders, the Colorado Rockies (yes they were an NHL team back then), the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers, making him one of the most successful Nighthawks ever. In arguably his best season, in 44 games for the Islanders in 1975-76, Chico allowed only 2.07 goals per game and had a save percent of almost 93%.
    1. Willie O’Ree
      Willie O’Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL in 1957-58 playing with the Boston Bruins. Almost 15 years later he would lace up the skates for the New Haven Nighthawks. O’Ree played 50 games with the Nighthawks in 1972-1973, scoring 21 Goals, and assisting on 24 more. Willie’s professional hockey career spanned 25 years. He is one of the most important figures in the history of the sport and the Nighthawks were lucky enough to witness part of his legendary career up close.
    1. Ken Baumgartner
      From 1986-1990 Ken Baumgartner split time between the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Baumgartner spent 71 games with the Nighthawks and 91 games with the Kings, clearly standing out among the AHL talent. Baumgartner’s clear potential would be realized as he would play a long NHL career (1987-1999) with 5 NHL clubs. New Haven hockey fans will remember his meteoric rise while he was becoming a big time professional on the Coliseum’s ice.
    1. Steve West
      Steve West only played one year with the Nighthawks, but it was a great one. In 1973-74 West was the AHL’s scoring champion (the only one in Nighthawks history) with 110 total points (50 goals and 60 assists). That year the Nighthawks lost in the second round of the AHL playoffs. Steve never made it to the NHL, but had a respectable 10 year minor league hockey career, even playing in the World Hockey Association for 142 games with 4 different teams. Although Steve West never repeated the individual success he had with the Nighthawks in 1973-74, he gave Nighthawk fans one hell of a ride during that incredible season.
    1. John Anderson
      Before John Anderson played for the New Haven Nighthawks, he played in the NHL for 13 years for the Maple Leafs, Nordiques and 4 seasons with the beloved Hartford Whalers. Prior to coming to New Haven he also played hockey abroad in Milan before coming back to America in 1989 to play in the NHL. Anderson was also a one-hit-wonder for the Nighthawks, playing in only the 1991-92 campaign as a seasoned veteran. Anderson played in 68 games, had 95 total points (41 goals and 54 assists) and was named 1991-92 AHL’s Most Valuable Player, the only New Haven Nighthawk to be awarded the honor. Anderson is also a member of the AHL Hall of Fame
      Video of the Ceremony
    1. Billy O’Dwyer
      Billy O’Dwyer was originally from South Boston, MA and played collegiate hockey at Boston College from 1978-1982. O’Dwyer is 3rd all time in games played (293) for the Nighthawks. From 1982-1991 he spent time with the AHL’s Nighthawks (six seasons) and Maine Mariners (one season) and also spent significant time with NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins. O’Dwyer is second all time for the Nighthawks in points (239), fourth in goals (92), and third in assists (147).
    1. Al Tuer
      Al Tuer was a scrapper to say the least, some may even affectionately call him a goon and the New Haven fans adored him for it. Al leads the Nighthawks in career penalty minutes with 688 in just 210 games over four seasons (for reference, #1 on this list, Tom Colley played 534 games for the Nighthawks and only logged 234 penalty minutes). Tuer’s aggressive play and defensive skill took his hockey career him from Regina, Saskatchewan to New Haven and ultimately to the NHL to play for the Kings, North Stars, and the beloved Hartford Whalers. Tuer epitomized what the Nighthawks fans wanted from their defenders and cheered they him on ferociously.
      Check out Al Tuer’s fighting highlight reel at HockeyFights.com

    All statistical information gathered from hockeydb.com

    All headshot photos from hockeydb.com