1974/75: One of two expansion team for the World Hockey Association’s third season, the Phoenix Roadrunners took their name from the former Western Hockey League team that had just folded. The Roadrunners were coached by Sandy Hucul, who was a popular player with the WHL Roadrunners. In their first game at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Roadrunners showed they could be explosive as they slammed the San Diego Mariners 8-2. After hover near .500 the first two months, the Roadrunners posted a 10-4-1 record in December, highlighted by a six game winning streak. Phoenix would also have a strong March, as they finished in fourth place with a record of 39-31-8, which was good enough to qualify for the playoffs. The Roadrunners banked their success on strong goaltending and a solid defense. Garyy Kurt and Jack Norris split the duties in goal and were ranked among the best in the WHA, while Dennis Sobchuk, Michel Cormier and Jim Boyd each had 70 points. In the playoffs the Roadrunners would hit a road block as they were overmatched by the Quebec Nordiques, losing in five games.
1975/76: Through most of the first half of their second season, the Roadrunners struggled as the loss of Dennis Sobchuk had them playing catch up early in the season. Thanks in part to Del Hall, who was picked up from the NHL’s Oakland Golden Seals and scored a team high 47 goals, the Roadrunners would turn things around after the start of the New Year and reach the playoffs again with a record of 39-35-4, as Robbie Ftorek topped the 100 point mark with 41 goals and 72 assists. Facing the San Diego Mariners in the Preliminary Playoff Round, the Roadrunners again defended their turf, as the two teams split their first four games of a best-of-5 series with the home team winning all four games. However, despite Game 5 being in Phoenix, the Roadrunners would run out of gas, losing the finale 2-1.
1976/77: Fans were unhappy at the start of the Roadrunners’ third season, as they fired popular Coach Sandy Hucul and replaced him with Al Rollins, who had been the coach of the Salt Lake Golden Eagles a primary rival for the old Roadrunners in the WHL. The continued instability of the WHA meanwhile had the new Roadrunners in deep financial trouble as players were often sold for the team to pay the bills, as the expense of keeping the ice fresh in the desert, was starting take its toll. The third season for the Roadrunners would be a disaster as the team allowed 74 more goals than any other WHA team as they finished in last place with a record of 28-48-4. Despite their struggles, Robbie Ftorek gave Phoenix fans something to cheer about, with 117 points while scoring a team high 46 goals, as he was named the WHA’s Most Valuable Player. However, despite Ftorek and the team still being rather popular, a new deal could not be reached with the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the team was forced to fold. The Roadrunners final game would be a 7-3 home win over the Indianapolis Racers on April 6th. Robbie Ftorek would go on to play with the Cincinnati Stingers in the final two seasons of the WHA, while the NHL came to the valley of the sun two decades later. The team that would become the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 would be the Winnipeg Jets, one of four teams from the WHA that would join the NHL after the league ceased operations in 1979.
©MMXIII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the World Hockey Association. This site is not affiliated with the Phoenix Roadrunners or the WHA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on August 10, 2013. Last updated on August 10, 2013 at 2:50 am ET.