Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Joe Noris

Joe Noris was born in Denver, Colorado but learned to play competitive hockey in Canada. As a youngster he used to hang around the Denver University hockey team. Denver's coach Murray Armstrong recommended Joe to start out by trying junior "B" hockey in Canada.

Joe played his junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers and the Toronto Marlboro's. In Kitchener Joe was a center, but the Marlboro's were so stacked with forwards that his coach Frank Bonello decided to switch Joe to defence. When he was claimed by Pittsburgh during the 1971 amateur draft (32nd overall), it was as a defenseman.

Joe made the Penguins lineup in the first year, which surprised HOF'er Red Kelly who at that time was Pittsburgh's coach:

"I considered him a good prospect, but I was really quite surprised when he made the team in
his first pro season, especially because his experience on defence was limited." Kelly said.

Joe's NHL career was pretty brief. Beside the 35 games for the Penguins he also played two games with St.Louis (72-73) and 18 games with Buffalo (73-74). Most of the time was spent in the minors and not until WHA's San Diego Mariners signed him in August 1975 did he get to taste major league hockey again.

Joe had a very good first season in the WHA, scoring 68 points for San Diego. The night after the Mariners were eliminated from the playoffs Joe crashed his car and recieved cuts in his face that required over 100 stitches, other than that he was alright and his fine play earned him a spot on the American 1976 Canada Cup team.

Joe came better prepared for the 1976-77 season than ever. This of course because of the Canada Cup tournament. Joe scored 92 points for San Diego and finished 12th overall in league scoring. At this point Joe had been a center for a couple of years, his initial position.

The San Diego franchise folded and he was picked up by the Birmingham Bulls in June 1977. He wasn't able to repeat the successful years that he had in San Diego. Joe decided to go back to San Diego and play there for the San Diego Hawks in the PHL (Pacific Hockey League) for the 1978-79 season. Joe teared up the PHL, scoring a league high 77 assists and 104 pts in only 58 games. Joe then got a lucrative offer from the Austrian team,   ATSE Graz, where he played briefly during the 1979-80 season before retiring.

"Broadway Joe" finished his career with a total of 55 NHL games (7 points) and 198 WHA games (188 points), plus 18 WHA playoff games (9 points).

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