The Complete World Hockey Association

Bill Hughes William John Martin Hughes

Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Catch: L
Born: 7 Nov 1947, Kirkland Lake ON


Regular Season Goaltending Record (key)

year team
1972-73 Houston

• Signed as an emergency replacement after originally being hired to work in the Houston Aeros' front office


Nervous Aero Hughes Debuts in Garden • by Rich Burk • The Hockey Spectator • December 1, 1972

There must be better places than the Boston Garden to make your professional debut.

As if your nerves weren't raw enough, the rabid Boston fans would like nothing better than to see you run right out of town. And the New England Whalers aren't the softest touch in the new World Hockey Association, either.

Well, Houston Aeros rookie Billy Hughes made his first pro start right there in hallowed Boston Gardens with more than 8,000 watching. He managed to escape with a 4-4 tie, too.

"I was nervous, but then I always am before a game, When I stop being nervous before a game, I'll start to worry," Hughes sald.

To make it even tougher, Hughes and the Aeros had to survive a 10-minute overtime after blowing an early 4-0 lead.

"It was really tough. Not because it was overtime, but because it was sudden death overtime. If a team gets a goal, there's no way you're going to get it back, That puts a lot of pressure on everybody," Hughes said.

To survive, Hughes had to kick away 14 overtime shots, including one with just eight seconds left. Whaler Tom Webster had a point-blank shot at Hughes, but the Houston goalie grabbed it to keep things from getting away.

"I was happy we got the tie, but it wasn't good after leading 4-0. But one point is better than nothing, especially on the road," Hughes said.

The 25-year-old rookie was forced into service in Boston because of an injury to Wayne Rutledge and a death in Don McLeod's family. Until then, Hughes had confined his activities to working in the Aeros front office and practice stints.

"I'll do anything to get out of that office," Hughes laughed.

Two nights later he came back to make his home debut, this time facing the surprising Los Angeles Sharks, Unhappily the Aeros came out onthe short end of the scoreboard, 6-4.

"This is an awful lot like the first two games I started in college. I lost both of them," Hughes laughed.

"I was home for Christmas (from Michigan Tech) and I got a call that our goalie had tried to stick his hand through an unbreakable window and had broken a bone in his hand.

"So I flew to Troy (New York) and started the last game of the RPI tourney against Rennsalaer. We lost that one, 4-2, and then we came home and lost to Colorado College, 6-1."

About that time, Hughes must have been wondering if he had chosen the right profession.

Did it bother him that his first two games in the pros were against two of the top teams in the WHA?

"Well, those are the two top teams around, so things are bound to get better," he shrugged.



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