New York Raiders Memories


If you'd like to add a Raiders memory or a memory of any other WHA team e-mail me. All help is greatly appreciated.

1997 ryanch@bigfoot.com


Happy to find your webpage, i was at a ny raider vs philly blazer game at the garden in 1972. with about 3500 people in the stands. i think bernie parent was the goalie that day. i also remember listening for the nj knights play road games as i dont think they had a radio contract, i used to stay up nights listening to the knights on wwwe cleveland against the crusaders and the nordiques on the old am radio. Neil

In 1972, I was 15 years old, living in Queens, NY,and looking for a hockey team to root for. I couldn't fully root for The Rangers because 1) I always liked to root for the less established team in NY (Mets, Jets, Nets), and 2) The Rangers were so unaggressive, they were unbearable to watch -- they'd play The Bruins, 3 Bruins would gang up on one Ranger and beat the hell out of him, and no one on The Rangers would make a move to help their teammate.

So when the WHA formed, I decided to be a New York Raiders fan. Here are my strongest memories of that 1972-73 season:

Got my Dad to take my brother and I to two home games during the year, one against Alberta and one against Houston. (I think The Raiders split the two games -- they beat Alberta, but they lost to Houston).

My favorite player was a lumbering animal of a defesneman named Hal Willis. This guy put the "oo" in "goon" -- he made Dave Schmidt seem like a finesse player. My two favorite Hal Willis memories:

1) one of the local papers, the NY Daily News, I think, published a photo of Willis chasing an opposing player who had skated around him. The photo showed the player crumbling to the ice, as Willis, coming from behind, brought his stick down squarely on the top of the guy's head with a firm, two-handed grasp; 2) at one of the games I attended, I remember opponents at least 3 times skating down the ice and going around Willis like he was standing still, to go one-on-one with the goalie. I think both of the first two times, the opponent scored. The third time, Willis, clearly peeved, grabbed the guy from behind, threw him down to the ice, then stepped on him. Needless to say, Willis led the team in penalty minutes. (Willis was a former member of the minor league hockey team the Long Island Ducks, whose motto was "If you can't get the puck, get the man!")

I also remember:

Bobby Sheehan -- he was a poor puck handler, but he could accelerate like crazy, so on those occasions when he DID retain control of the puck, he often had a breakaway;

Ron Ward -- the guy was practically invisible during the games. You just wouldn't notice him, but somehow, he was in the middle of every scoring play.

Lastly, I remember that The Raiders were broadcast on WMCA AM radio, and their announcer was John Sterling, who would larter go on the announce first for The Islanders, and finally for The Yankees (for whom he is still the radio announcer).

Sterling's color man for much of the first season, until spring training came, was Yankee pitcher Fritz Peterson, right before Peterson was embroiled in a big scandal on the sports pages of the day for engaging in wife-swapping with Yankee teammate Mike Kekich.

Sterling's trademark was screaming after each goal by The Raiders "Raider goal! Raider goal! Raider goal!". He later transplanted this trademark to his Islander broadcasts, although "Islander goal!" was a bit more of a mouthful. He still uses the same tone and volume at the last out of every winning Yankee game, when he screams "The Yankees win! The Yankees win!"

I hoped to continue rooting for The Raiders in their second season, but first the new owner changed their name, and then about 13 games into the season, they were moved into Jersey, too far away to convince my father to take me. The next season, of course, they moved to San Diego. At that point, I became (somewhat reluctantly at first) an Islanders fan, which I still am to this day.

Thanks for creating a forum for me to share these memories! Rich Hughes


Got this from a defunct hockey magazine from the early '80s: *The New The New York Raiders once paid $20,000 to have a team song composed for them but the team moved out of town before the song was finished. *The league had an anti-violence meeting one time to curb violence in the WHA and at one of the meetings coaches Bobby Kromm of Winnipeg and Marc Boileau of Quebec allegedly had a fist fight. *Doug Michel, owner of the Ottawa Nationals, confessed that at one time he had less than $100 in the bank at the same time he was talking multi-million dollar contracts with NHL stars to jump leagues. Gregg Inkpen

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