The Complete World Hockey Association

Peter Donnelly Peter George Donnelly

Height: 5-8
Weight: 160
Catch: R
Born: 14 Jun 1948, Detroit MI


Regular Season Goaltending Record (key)

year team
1972-73 New York
1973-74 Vancouver
1975-76 Quebec


Date Opponent Home/Away Score Saves
Oct 15, 1972PhiladelphiaHome5-029
Nov 19, 1972PhiladelphiaHome5-019
Jan 20, 1974Los AngelesAway3-029
Feb 5, 1974EdmontonHome8-029
Feb 17, 1974Los AngelesAway4-018

• Brother of Pat Donnelly.

WHA Story is Donnelly's • by Larry Bortstein • The Hockey Spectator • February 23, 1973

There are seven million stories in the World Hockey Association. Peter Donnelly's is one of them — maybe the most unbelievable one.

The 24-year-old dark-haired Detroit native has been the number one goaltender for the Raiders most of the season. That he is succeeding in hockey at all, much less on the Major League level, ranks as something out of science fiction.

Two years ago, Donnelly was walking 20 to 25 miles a day cutting greens at a golf course near Quebec City, strengthening his legs — for what? He had played some junior hockey in Canada but Peter had been out of competitive sports for three years. And besides, there were other things to think about.

"I was bored with my sales job in Detroit," Donnelly recalls. "I was looking for apprentice work in electrical engineering which I had studied at the University of Detroit, but I couldn't get a decent job. My wife was pregnant. Finally we moved to get to Quebec City, her hometown. I met her there when we were both very young, while I was playing in juniors."

Peter's leap from greens-cutting to goaltending in WHA sounds like a fantastic story of overnight success. But it certainly hasn't been an accident. "I wanted to play pro hockey," he says. "I was in the Detroit Red Wings organization for a while. But I didn't see myself having a real chance. Then I heard about the formation of a league the WHA and I said 'there's my chance to make it.' I came back to hockey in 1971-72 for just one reason to prepare myself for the WHA. There really isn't any other reason why anybody would put up playing in the Eastern League."

Donnelly tended net for the Jersey Devils last year playing on a team with president Raider teammates Jamie Kennedy and Ted Scharf. In a goal-happy league, Peter posted a respectable 3.78 goals-against average, playing 73 games of a 75-game schedule for a last place club.

"It was very hard getting out of there night after night, facing all those shots the other teams threw at me," says Donnelly with a weak smile. "But it was an excellent experience. The Raiders were impressed with my work and signed me for this season."

When Gary Kurt who had been touted as the club's best goaltender was rocked in his first two games, Peter got the nod from coach Camille Henry to work the third game of the season, a Sunday-afternoon affair at Madison Square Garden against the Philadelphia Blazers. Peter threw a 28-save 5-0 shutout. Since then, he's seen almost twice as many minutes of net-minding duty as Kurt.

A serious-minded chap, Donnelly concedes that there still is plenty about goaltending that he doesn't yet know but which he is willing to study. "I've made mistakes this year," admits the 5-8, 155 pounder, "but you learn from mistakes and benefit from them so that you don't make the same mistake twice. I don't make any excuses for bad plays, excuses are a sign of weakness."

Peter's work on rival shots from inclose has been astonishingly good at times, though he tends to get beaten too often on long range shots. "I've had our players shoot at me from way out in practice," says Donnelly, "to see if I can correct my weakness. I prefer a stand-up style of goaltending. I think it helps me field the hard shots better. We've got a couple very hard shots on the team here. Bobby Sheehan gets his shot away fastest but his shot is not as hard as Bob Winograd's or Craig Reichmuth's. They have very heavy shots."

When Peter first met his wife in Quebec, she had a younger brother named Rejean, then 11, who was playing peewee hockey. Now Pete's brother-in-law, Rejean Giroux age 20 is better known as an outstanding right wing prospect with the Quebec Mordiques. Young Rejean scored 58 goals in his last year of junior hockey with the 1971-72 Quebec Remparts.

"We play a lot of golf in the offseason in Quebec," says Pete, who speaks excellent French. "Rejean is a better golfer than I am. But we'll have plenty of time to worry about golf in the summer. I still haven't forgiven him for the goal he scored against me in Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. We lost that game in overtime." Donnelly avenged himself recently against Giroux and the rest of the Nordiques with a 5-4 victory that broke a four-game losing streak by the New Yorkers.

Peter admits he isn't earning a large salary this year. "But I'm working on a one-year contract. I've been working for next year's contract all year," he warns. "I'm hoping to double this year's salary. I haven't had time to worry about agents or contracts on and all that yet, but playing in a league like this with luxury travel the best hotels ... all that is a very big incentive for wanting to stay up here."



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