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November 15, 1977 – Indianapolis Racers vs. New England Whalers

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Rick Ley New England WhalersIndianapolis Racers vs. New England Whalers
November 15, 1977
Market Square Arena
Attendance: ?

World Hockey Association Programs

 

All eyes were on 49-year old Gordie Howe on this Tuesday evening in Indianapolis in November 1977.  Three network film crews were in the house at Market Square Arena, hoping to record the New England Whalers star as he scored his 1,000th professional goal.  Instead the legend got himself tossed out of the game.

Howe managed to get off a couple of shots in the first period, but they were turned away by Indianapolis Racers goalie Gary Inness.  While the Racers bottled up Howe, Mike Antonovich picked up the slack for New England, scoring a hat trick to pace a 6-4 Whalers victory.

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Howe picked up a two-minute minor for tripping.  Howe flicked the puck in disgust, inadvertently (?) dinging referee Ron Ego.  In a move reminiscent of Billy Crystal ejecting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from his farewell game (Forget Paris, anyone? No?), Ego promptly slapped the legend with a game misconduct penalty.

Ultimately it would take Gordie Howe 11 more games to get his 1,000th goal.  The historic tally finally game on December 6th, 1977 against the Birmingham Bulls.  To this day, Howe remains the only player with 1,000 pro goals.

All things considered, it would have been a nice gesture for the Racers to put Gordie Howe on the cover of the evening’s game program (above right), but that’s Whalers captain Rick Ley pictured instead.

 

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Written by andycrossley

August 18th, 2014 at 1:08 am

October 30, 1974 – New England Whalers vs. Toronto Toros

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Frank Mahovlich Toronto TorosNew England Whalers vs. Toronto Toros
October 30, 1974
Eastern States Coliseum
Attendance: 3,602

World Hockey Association Programs

 

That’s future Hall-of-Famer Frank Mahovlich pictured on the cover of this October 1974 New England Whalers program from the World Hockey Association.  After engraving his name on six Stanley Cups over 18 NHL seasons, the 36-year old Mahovlich jumped to the rival WHA prior to its third season of play in June 1974, inking a four-year deal with the Toronto Toros franchise.

The Toros came in to Springfield, Massachusetts on this night as the hottest team in the WHA.  The team was 6-0 on the 1974-75 season and had a 12-game regular season win streak snaking back to the end of the 1973-74 campaign.  The host Whalers, meanwhile, were killing time in West Springfield in late 1974, waiting on the January 1975 grand opening of their permanent home at the new Hartford Civic Center.

Mahovlich didn’t factor in the scoring sheet on this night.  The game was tied 2-2 early in the third, but the Whalers broke it open with late goals from Tom Webster, Thommy Abrahamsson and Mike Byers.  New England’s 5-2 victory snapped the Toros win streak at twelve.

Mahovlich played the final four years of his career in the WHA, adding 89 goals to his 533 NHL tallies.  He retired in 1978 and was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981.

 

==Links==

Toronto Toros Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

August 17th, 2014 at 1:51 am

October 28, 1972 – New England Whalers vs. Alberta Oilers

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Kevin Ahearn New England WhalersNew England Whalers vs. Alberta Oilers
October 28, 1972
Boston Arena
Attendance: ?

World Hockey Association Programs

 

Early game program from the first season of the World Hockey Association.  This October 28th, 1972 game was the 9th game in franchise history for both the New England Whalers (today the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL) and the visiting Alberta Oilers (today’s Edmonton Oilers).

It was also first Whalers game played at the 6,000-seat Boston Arena.  Out of necessity, the Whalers had to split their 1972-73 schedule between the 15,000-seat Boston Garden (where they had a contentious relationship with the NHL’s Bruins) and smaller, 62-year old bandbox on St. Botolph Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.  The Whalers pumped $200,000 into Boston Arena in 1972 to try to bring it up to a professional standard, but ultimately they would leave the building behind after their first season in the WHA.

That’s Milton, Mass. native and Boston College alum Kevin Ahearn pictured on the cover of the evening’s Harpoon Magazine game program.  Ahearn played on the 1972 U.S. Olympic Hockey team in Sapporo, Japan, but his pro career was a short one.  After appearing in 78 games for the Whalers and scoring 20 goals during the 1972-73 season, Ahearn spent the next two winters in the minors and was out of hockey by the age of 26 in 1975.

The Oilers won on this night 4-1 on the strength of 43 saves by Alberta goalie Jack Norris.

 

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Written by andycrossley

July 30th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

December 24, 1972 – New England Whalers vs. Los Angeles Sharks

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New England Whalers vs. Los Angeles Sharks
December 24, 1972
Boston Garden
World Hockey Association Programs

MERRY CHRISTMAS, Fun While It Lasted readers.

40 years ago this very night here in my hometown…Santa Claus finds time to drop in at the old Boston Garden as the New England Whalers take on the Los Angeles Sharks in World Hockey Association action.

Written by andycrossley

December 25th, 2012 at 3:07 am

October 1, 1977 – New England Whalers vs. Boston Bruins

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New England Whalers vs. Boston Bruins
WHA-NHL Exhibition Game
October 1, 1977
Hartford Civic Center
World Hockey Association Programs

Despite a bitter and often litigious business rivalry, teams from the National Hockey League and the upstart World Hockey Association (1972-1979) played 63 inter-league exhibition matches between 1974 and 1978.  Among the WHA clubs, the New England Whalers were the most enthusiastic participant in these contests, appearing in 16 of the 63 WHA-NHL derbies.

But this was the only night the Whalers ever faced their local market foes, the Boston Bruins.  And this would be the only time Bruins deigned to face a WHA squad.  The Bruins, after all, where one of the most strident anti-WHA hardliners during the league merger discussions that stretched throughout the mid-late 1970′s.  A sampling of their grievances and responses…

  • The Bruins were defending Stanley Cup champions when the WHA launched in 1972. The new league promptly raided the B’s roster, plucking away Gerry Cheevers, Ted Green (lured away by the Whalers), Johnny McKenzie and Derek Sanderson.
  • Boston was so hockey mad in 1972 that the city supported two pro teams at the Boston Garden. Weston Adams Jr. controlled the Garden and owned both the Bruins and their top farm club, the Boston Braves.  During the Braves first season in 1971-72, the team drew bigger crowds than some NHL teams.  But the Whalers move into the Garden in 1972 put the Braves out of business within two years.
  • By April 1974, the Whalers owed $50,000 in back rent to Adams and attempted to pull their gear out of the Garden for a playoff game in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Adams barricaded the Whalers’ locker room with the Garden’s Zamboni machine to extract the rent.
  • Paul Mooney replaced Adams as Bruins and Garden President in 1975.  Mooney was an anti-WHA stalwart and helped to scuttle a 1977 merger plan that nearly united the two leagues.

The Whalers always played the NHL tough in these exhibitions.  Most observers considered the NHL to be the superior league, but the Whalers went 9-3-4 in inter-league play.  Just the evening before the Whale beat the New York Rangers 7-4.   This would not be their night though.   The Bruins teed off of Whalers goaltender Cap Raeder for five goals in the first period, courtesy of Dave Forbes, Stan Jonathan, Rick Middleton, Bob Miller and Brad Park.  Cheevers started in net for the Bruins, back from his own three season adventure in the WHA.  The finals score was 5-0 Bruins.

This would be the only time the Whalers and Bruins would meet in the WHA era.  The clubs next met on November 18, 1979 as NHL rivals, after the merger of WHA and NHL finally went through in the summer of 1979 (over the Bruins’ objections, once again).

 

 

 

Written by andycrossley

November 10th, 2012 at 4:54 am