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The Cleveland Crusaders were a professional ice hockey team from Cleveland, Ohiomarker. The Crusaders were founded by Nick Mileti, and played in the World Hockey Association from 1972 to 1976. Their home ice was the Cleveland Arenamarker from 1972 to 1974, and the Richfield Coliseummarker from 1974 to 1976.

The first coach for the Crusaders was Bill Needham, a long-time minor leaguer with the AHL's Cleveland Barons. Needham coached the Crusaders to winning records in the first two seasons, but failed to advance past the second playoff round. In the 1974–75 season, John Hanna took over as coach, to be replaced mid-season by Jack Vivian. Cleveland finished second in the east division despite a losing record, but fell in the first round of the playoffs. Johnny Wilson led the team for its final season, also losing in the first round of the post-season.

The Crusaders were displaced from Cleveland in 1976, when the National Hockey League's California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland and became the Cleveland Barons. After a proposed move to Florida fell through, the Crusaders relocated to St. Paul, Minnesotamarker, becoming the second incarnation of the Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Players

Gary Jarrett was the Crusaders top scorer in their four seasons, playing in 298 games, scoring 104 goals, 119 assists, totalling 223 points. Gerry Pinder played the most games in a Crusader uniform, 304 in total. Other notable Crusaders players included Paul Shmyr (538 penalty minutes in four season), netminder Gerry Cheevers, and defenseman Wayne Hillman.

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1972–73 78 43 32 3 89 287 239 1095 2nd, Eastern Won Quarterfinals (Philadelphia)
Lost Semifinals (New England)
1973–74 78 37 32 9 83 266 264 1007 3rd, Eastern Lost Quarterfinals (Toronto)
1974–75 78 35 40 3 73 236 258 1273 2nd, Eastern Lost Quarterfinals (Houston)
1975–76 80 35 40 5 75 273 279 1356 2nd, Eastern Lost Preliminaries (New England)
Totals 314 150 144 20 320 1062 1040 4731


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