â€¢ The Yellow Jackets won the USAHA Championship in 1924 and 1925
â€¢ In 1925-26 the Yellow Jackets evolved into the City’s first NHL team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This here’s a real hockey town for sure. The boys up north think they’re in heaven after they get here.
LIONEL CONACHER, Yellow Jackets Captain, remarking on the city of Pittsburgh
The Amateur Squad Dominated the Competition; Turned Pro
The Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets, of the United States Amateur Hockey Association* were formed in 1915. They evolved from amateur to semi-pro and are one the earliest organized teams in Pittsburgh.
The Yellow Jackets won the USAHA Championship in 1924 and 1925 and were coached by Dick Carroll, who earlier won a Stanley Cup coaching The Toronto Arenas in 1918.
The Yellow Jackets repeated as champions by defeating cross-town rival Fort Pitt Hornets, 2-1, on April 11, 1925. Captain Lionel Conacher scored in the first period on an end-to-end rush and Harold “Baldy” Cotton scored the final goal in the team’s history at the 13:00 mark of the first period by beating the Hornets’ goalie Earl Miller. The Yellow Jackets won three games and tied one against the Hornets thanks in part to solid goaltending from Roy Worters.
The Yellow Jackets wore black and gold uniforms and played in the Duquesne Gardens in the city’s Oakland neighborhood. The Gardens was credited with being the finest indoor, artificial ice surface in North America.
The Yellow Jackets were owned by Roy Schooley who sold the team to attorney James F. Callahan. Callahan changed the team’s name to the Pittsburgh Pirates, borrowing the nickname from Pittsburgh’s professional baseball team.
The Pirates would become the NHL’s third U.S.-based team on November 7, 1925 in joining the New York Americans and the Boston Bruins.
The Yellow Jackets returned to Pittsburgh in 1930 after Schooley re-acquired the IAHL team. They were later purchased by Pittsburgh theatre chain owner, John Harris, in 1932. Harris purchased the Detroit Olympics in October 1936 and renamed the team the Pittsburgh Hornets. The Hornets were in originally in the International American Hockey League.
Noteable players: Goalies Roy Worters & Frankie “Mr. Zero” Brimsek, Lionel Conacher, and forward Hib Milks.
Brimsek, who won 252 games, held the record for winningest American-born netminder until Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tom Barrasso broke the record on February 15, 1993 by beating the Winnepeg Jets.
The Yellow Jackets played two more seasons in the city in the Eastern Hockey League from 1932 to 1934.
* The USAHA was founded in 1920, but folded five season later.