Seventy-five years ago, Curtis Bay was a mecca for … ice hockey? Early on in World War II, the Coast Guard station there trotted out a team of American hockey stars, pro and amateur, whose wartime chores included lacing their skates for Uncle Sam. Thus, in November 1942 were the Coast Guard Cutters born.
Though the best of them hailed from the National Hockey League, the Cutters played in the eight-team Eastern Amateur Hockey League. They trumpeted nationalism, wearing uniforms of red, white and blue; traveled with a 30-piece marching band; and played home games at Iceland at Carlin’s Park (Reisterstown Road and Druid Park Drive), where Coast Guardsmen worked as ticket-takers and armed MPs patrolled the arena.
The Cutters were hardy and headstrong. Once, goalie Muzz Murray took a puck in the mouth, lost four teeth but stayed in the game. Another time, they took a doubleheader from the New York Rovers, winning at Madison Square Garden in the afternoon and back home at Iceland that night.
They romped to the title, going 32-13-1 in 1942-1943 to become the first service team ever to win a pennant in a league otherwise composed of civilian clubs. The following year, playing an independent schedule against mainly Canadian teams, the Cutters went 35-10-3. Then they were gone — victims, perhaps, of their own success. Chided for creating a sports juggernaut, Navy officials disbanded the team and shipped the players elsewhere to serve their country in more conventional ways.