In the days before the expansion of the National Hockey League beyond its original six teams, the Western Hockey League was quite nearly as “major league” as any minor league could be. In fact, when the NHL began considering expanding in the 1960s, much consideration was given to simply annexing the WHL to quickly extend the league’s reach to western North America.
During the 1962-63 WHL season, the San Francisco Seals played their home schedule before packed houses at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Coached by Bud Poile and led on the ice by Nick Mickoski, Orland Kurtenbach, Eddie Panagabko, Gary “Duke” Edmundson and Dan Belisle, with Jimmy McLeod in goal, the Seals finished the regular season with a 44-25-1 record and 89 points, good for second place behind the Portland Buckaroos (92 points) in the WHL’s Southern Division.
Moving through the WHL playoffs, the Seals rode into the finals on the back of goaltender McLeod, who had led the league in regular-season wins with 43 and would end up with the playoff highs in wins (10) and shutouts (3).
In the finals against the Seattle Totems — who had finished the regular season in second place in the Northern Division with 72 points — the Seals battled their opponents for seven games, four of which went into sudden-death overtime, including the deciding finale.
For the radio broadcast on RKO General’s KFRC (610 AM) in San Francisco, we join our Seals commentators, Roy Storey and Bill King, for the dramatic conclusion of the seventh game, which will determine the winner of the WHL’s Lester Patrick Cup.
Widely considered as one of the top sportscasters in the Bay Area during this era, Storey later made it to the NHL as voice of the California Golden Seals in 1970-71 and 1971-72 (on San Jose’s KEEN) before heading down south with the Los Angeles Kings for the 1972-73 season. Storey was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.
King, who had also begun working as the lead announcer for the newly-arrived San Francisco Warriors in 1962-63, would become the first — and, to this date, the only — broadcaster to call a World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Championship and professional hockey championship as a voice of the winning team. In 2006, Bill King was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame as a member of the first class to be inducted.
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The Bay Area Radio Museum extends its gratitude to Len Shapiro