San Diego Mariners
1974/75: After two unsuccessful seasons in New York and New Jersey, the WHA came to San Diego, with the former Jersey Knights becoming the San Diego Mariners. The Mariners were coached by Harry Howell, who also was one of the team’s top defensemen. After starting the season with an ugly 8-2 loss on the road against the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Mariners beat the Houston Aeros 6-2 in their first game at the San Diego Sports Arena. The Mariners would win their first four home games, as they were a surprise contender in the Western Division. Helping to lead the Mariners was Andre Lacroix who had one of the best seasons in the history of professional hockey, winning his second league scoring title with 147 points as he set a record of racked up 106 assists, winning the WHA’s MVP award. Benefiting the most from the play of Lacroix, who fans called the magician for the way he made the puck disappear, was Wayne Rivers who had 54 goals and 53 assists, while Ernie Wakely and Russ Gillow split the goaltending duties. The Mariners would finish the season in second place with a solid record of 43-31-4. In the playoffs the Mariners would get off to a fast start in the playoffs beating the Toronto Toros in the first two games at home, scoring 12 goals. After losing the next two games in Toronto, the Mariners scored another big winning 4-3 in Game 5 to regain control of the series on the way to winning in six games. However, in the next round the Mariners would get blown away by the Houston Aeros, losing in four straight games by a combined score of 17-5.
1975/76: After a solid first season in San Diego, the Mariners had a new coach in Ron Ingram. Early on things looked good for the Mariners as they beat the NHL’s Oakland Golden Seal 5-3 in an exhibition game. However, they could not match their first season success as attendance fell off while the Mariners had an up and down season. Andrew Lacroix again had a strong season leading San Diego with 101 points, as he posted 72 assists, while Gene Peacosh and Norm Ferguson led the team with 37 goals. The Mariners would go on to finish the season in third place with a record of 36-38-6. In the playoffs the Mariners would face the Phoenix Roadrunners in the preliminary round. It would go the full five games, with the Mariners winning the decisive fifth game 2-1. In the next round the Mariners faced the Houston Aeros and looked to be on their way to getting swept for the second straight season, as they lost their first three games. However, the Mariners would deliver a pair of 3-2 wins, as they refused to go down without a fight. In the end the Aeros had too many weapons as they took the series in six games, winning the finale 3-2.
1976/77: The Mariners had a new owner in Ray Kroc, who was the man who turned McDonald’s into international fast food giant. Kroc expected to make the Mariners a winner and hoped to be able to join the NHL someday, as talks of a merger began to circulate around the WHA. However, the Mariners hovered near .500 as attendance continued to struggle. The Mariners got strong seasons again Andre Lacroix who led the team in scoring with 114 points, while Norm Ferguson led the team with 39 goals. The Mariners would finish in third place, posting a record of 40-37-4. In the playoffs the Mariners would face the reign champion Winnipeg Jets, giving them all they could handle as the home team won the first six games of the series. In Winnipeg for Game 7, the Jets would beat the Mariners 7-3 on April 24th. It would be the final game ever played by the San Diego Mariners, as the team despite making the playoffs all three seasons was sold by Ray Kroc who was disappointed at the team’s attendance. The new owners planned to move the Mariners to South Florida, but a suitable arena could not be found and the team became another casualty of the WHA’s financial troubles and simply folded.
©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 San Diego Mariners 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 July 28, 2013. Last updated on July 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm ET.