In the fall of 1964 the lobby of their new arena, Hara Arena, had a natural gas explosion. The damage was minor and the expansion team was assembled from various cast-offs and young players looking for their first break in minor league hockey.
The International Hockey League was a low level bus league at the time consisting of six to ten midwestern teams, with intense rivalries between the Toledo and Columbus, Ohio teams. In those days the players had off-season jobs such as insurance salesmen and construction workers to supplement their small incomes from playing hockey. The IHL was not considered to be a professional league at the time.
Dayton was the host for several IHL all star games due to the large attendance in their 5,600 seat arena. The Gems played exhibition games against the US Olympic team as well as the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League. The team had a few games a season televised locally as well as all games broadcast on the premier AM radio station in town.
Other teams in the league copied the uniform styling of the Gems. The Dayton Gems were the first adult team in North America to make helmets mandatory, long before the NHL adopted them.
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