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ahlhof_mayer.jpgA workhorse between the pipes despite his small size, few goaltenders in professional hockey had the success that Gil Mayer did in the American Hockey League.

An Ottawa native, Mayer was nicknamed “The Needle” because of his 5-foot-6, 135-pound frame, making him just about the smallest player in the league at the time. But he made up for his diminutive stature with quickness and agility, and would be credited with winning 346 games over 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Hornets, Hershey Bears, Cleveland Barons and Providence Reds from 1949-63. (His victory total is actually slightly higher, but statistics from the 1958-59 season remain incomplete.)

Mayer posted 30 wins in a season seven different times, including a memorable 46-19-3 campaign in 1951-52. He led the Hornets to Calder Cup championships in 1952 and 1955, and along the way, was recalled to see action in nine games in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When the Hornets folded following the 1955-56 season, Mayer joined future AHL Hall of Famers Frank Mathers and Willie Marshall in making the move from Pittsburgh to Hershey. He spent three seasons with the Bears, playing on teams that went on to win the Calder Cup in 1958 and 1959, although he did not see any postseason action either year.

Mayer played the next two years (1959-61) in Cleveland and the two after that in Providence before retiring in 1963 trailing only Johnny Bower in all-time AHL wins and shutouts (41).

Mayer’s career saw him capture many individual honors as well, earning three First Team AHL All-Star nods along with two Second Team berths. Five times in a six-year span, beginning in 1950-51 at the age of 20, Mayer captured the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award, which was at the time presented to the goaltender who led the league in goals against. 

Career AHL Statistics – Gil Mayer
  Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team GP Record SO GAA GP Record SO GAA
1949-50 Pittsburgh Hornets 50 20-19-11 4 2.84 -- -- -- --
1950-51 Pittsburgh Hornets 71 31-33-7 6 2.40 13 9-4 2 1.87
1951-52 Pittsburgh Hornets 68 46-19-3 5 2.55 11 8-3 1 1.91
1952-53 Pittsburgh Hornets 62 36-20-6 6 2.33 10 6-4 0 1.73
1953-54 Pittsburgh Hornets 68 33-30-5 3 3.12 5 2-3 1 2.36
1954-55 Pittsburgh Hornets 64 31-25-8 3 2.80 10 7-3 1 2.63
1955-56 Pittsburgh Hornets 56 40-12-4 5 2.70 4 1-3 0 2.69
1956-57 Hershey Bears 29 14-12-3 1 3.55 -- -- -- --
1957-58 Hershey Bears 22 12-7-3 0 2.74 -- -- -- --
1958-59 Hershey Bears 19 n/a 0 3.21 -- -- -- --
1959-60 Cleveland Barons 41 19-19-3 3 3.07 7 3-4 1 3.14
1960-61 Cleveland Barons 66 32-34-0 3 3.36 -- -- -- --
1961-62 Providence Reds 30 16-13-1 1 4.07 3 1-2 0 3.57
1962-63 Providence Reds 34 16-15-3 1 2.91 -- -- -- --
AHL Totals 680 346-258-57 41 2.89 63 37-26 6 2.27