April 04, 2014
It was still pretty rare to see American players playing in the National Hockey League in the 1970s, nevermind a player from California of all places. But Chris Ahrens, a NHL warrior of 52 contests with the Minnesota North Stars, sported a birth certificate with a birthplace of San Bernadino, California.
Ahrens (not to be confused with the distinguished rower by the same name) was the second Californian born player in NHL history, with St. Louis Blues' Mike Lampman beating him out by a matter of months. But Ahrens actually grew up on Long Island, New York and was the first New York state resident ever drafted by a NHL team.
When Ahrens was 16 he moved to Kitchener, Ontario to pursue a hockey career. Despite missing half of his draft season due to knee surgery, the defenseman ended up playing with the Frontenacs of the OHL and played solidly enough to be drafted 76th overall by the Minnesota North Stars.
Over the next six seasons the modestly sized Ahrens (he was 6'0" and 185lbs) developed a reputation in the AHL as a nasty piece of business. He was always near or on top of the penalty minute leader board.
But Ahrens could never quite stick in the NHL. He totalled 52 career games, 44 of which came in the 1974-75 season. He never scored a goal, picked up only 3 assists as well as 77 penalty minutes in the NHL.