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American Hockey League
Mayer made the jump from amateur hockey with the Lake Placid Roamers to junior ice hockey in 1949. He was the goalie of the Barrie Flyers who lost the Eastern Canada championship final series 5-4 to the Montreal Royals, in April 1949 for the George Richardson Memorial Trophy.
In October 1949 he was tied with Terry Sawchuk of the Indianapolis Capitals, each with one American Hockey League shutout. In the 1951-1952 season Mayer wore #1 for the Pittsburgh Hornets. Mayer was selected to the AHL all-star team for the 1953-1954 season. The same year he won a league title, a $300 bonus, and captured goalie honors with a 3.25 goals against average. He allowed 146 goals in 52 games.
Early in the second period of Pittsburgh's game against the Syracuse Warriors, on February 6, 1952, Mayer was cut by a puck which struck his face. His nose hemorrhaged but he returned to the ice after thirty minutes. The Warriors triumphed 4-2 in a contest in which Mayer made several stellar saves. The deciding goal, in front of a crowd of 1,534 at Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, New York, was quite lucky. Kelly Burnett made a baseball swing at a high-flying hard-hit puck and knocked it 18 feet, still in the air, past goalie Gil Mayer.
Mayer shut out the Springfield Indians on March 22, 1955 in the first round of the AHL playoffs. The Hornets benefited from goals by Bob Hassard and Jack Caffery.
He was traded to the Hershey Bears on July 5, 1956. The Bears also obtained from Pittsburgh defenceman Jack Price, centre (ice hockey) Willie Marshall, centre (ice hockey) Bob Hassard, and forward (ice hockey) Bobby Solinger.
As goalie of the Cleveland Barons he sustained a broken jaw and missed three weeks of competition in 1959. He was hit by a slapshot during practice which required four sutures. His jaw was set at Lakewood Hospital in Cleveland. He was replaced by Don Rigazio, a goalie for the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team. In 1959 Mayer became the first goalie in the AHL to wear a Goalie mask. He was joined in 1960 by Gerry McNeil of the Quebec Aces.
Trainer Les Binkley replaced Mayer after he was hit behind the ear with a puck in a Barons' loss to the Buffalo Bisons on October 30, 1960. Binkley ceded all three Bisons' goals, playing all the way after the fifth minute.
He played his first NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on December 1, 1949, after being called up from the Hornets. Toronto's regular goalie, Turk Broda, was suspended for weighing 197 pounds. He had a weight limit of 190 pounds. Broda, 35, was the oldest active NHL goalie at the time.
Mayer had a natural weight of 128 pounds but tipped the scales at 166 pounds wearing all of his equipment. The 38 pounds of steel, wood, leather and wool costs $300 and requires 30 minutes for dressing and removal.
On October 21, 1954, Mayer was brought up from Pittsburgh to substitute for injured Toronto goalie Harry Lumley. As a replacement Mayer was all that could be asked and he was given practically faultless support by his fast-skating mates. The Leafs surprised a Montreal crowd of 14,004 by defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, in a game which featured the 200th goal of Harry Watson.
During a Toronto losing streak Mayer conceded a late first period goal to Ed Litzenberger of the Chicago Black Hawks on February 5, 1956. The shot from along the boards hit Mayer's pads and dribbled into the far corner of the net. It proved to be the winning tally in a 3-2 victory and the fourth loss in a row for the Maple Leafs.
NHL totals: Toronto Maple Leafs
(1949 - 1950) (G) 1 (GA) 2 (GAA) 2.00 (Svs) 0.00
(1953 - 1954) (G) 1 (GA) 0 (GAA) 0.00 (Svs) 0.00
(1954 - 1955) (G) 1 (GA) 0 (GAA) 0.00 (Svs) 0.00
(1955 - 1956) (G) 6 (GA)19 (GAA) 3.17 (Svs) 0.00
- "Olson Of Barons Captures American Loop Scoring Title". Elyria Chronicle Telegram. March 24, 1953. p. 14.
- "Hershey Bears Get Six Hornet Hockey Players In Big Deal". Connellsville Daily Register. July 6, 1957. p. 7.
- "Sports Briefs". Lancaster Eagle Gazette. October 29, 1959. p. 26.
- "Little Big Guy". Lethbridge Herald. November 30, 1949. p. 20.
- "The Diet League". Lethbridge Herald. December 2, 1949. p. 19.
- "Gil Mayer Leads Hornets To 2-0 Hockey Triumph". Monessen Daily Independent. March 23, 1955. p. 4.
- "Indians End 3-Way Tie At Top Spot". Indiana Evening Gazette. October 31, 1960. p. 10.
- "Two Masked Goalies". Reno Evening Gazette. November 3, 1960. p. 9.
- "Victory First For Syracuse Over Top Team". Syracuse Post-Standard. February 7, 1952. p. 18.
- "Thrust Halted". Syracuse Post-Standard. March 13, 1952. p. 18.
- "Montreal Royals Gain Memorial Cup Birth". Winnipeg Free Press. April 18, 1949. p. 16.
- "Terry Sawchcuk Top Goalie". Winnipeg Free Press. October 21, 1949. p. 22.
- "Mathers AHL Star Once Again". Winnipeg Free Press. April 28, 1954. p. 29.
- "Leafs Win First; Wings On Top". Winnipeg Free Press. October 22, 1954. p. 30.
- "Bruins, Hawks Spurt As Leafs Fade Fast". Winnipeg Free Press. February 6, 1956. p. 19.