Podcast: In Advance of 50th Anniversary Celebration, ‘Spike’ Sprague Reveals Little Known Facts

Richard “Spike” Sprague. (WHAV News photograph.)

It won’t be long before members of Haverhill High School’s 1973-74 hockey team gather for the 50th anniversary of the program and one of the organizers is revealing decades-old details.

The celebration takes place Saturday Feb. 17, at Haverhill High School’s Veterans Memorial rink with a game against Shawsheen. Richard “Spike” Sprague, who scored Haverhill High’s first varsity goal, gave away some secrets during a visit last week to WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program.

“I guess you’re going to find out why I scored the goal, because he went into emergency duty because the starter was out. He was in net with a pair of pads and regular skates on. Basically, he fell down and I put it in the net. I don’t think it was the hardest goal in the world to score,” he explained.

Sprague said that wasn’t the games’ only historical mark.

“There’s also a first, my good friend the goaltender, Ted Vathally. He was the goalie, he got the first shutout, we won 9-0 that game.”

Sprague has been working for months to get all of his teammates to the celebration.

“We had 22 players, unfortunately two passed away. These five players I’m looking for, Mark Roy, Tom Lloyd, John Purcell, Rich Cook and Joe Parker. If you’re out there, I’d appreciate you getting in touch with me, we’d like to have you there,” he asked.

Players who have moved to California, Texas and Florida will be coming back to town. Even though the 73-74 Haverhill High hockey team is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Sprague said there was a short-lived effort years earlier.

“They did have a hockey program back in 1929, I researched it. It was more of a club team. They went on for three years and disbanded. So, it had been 40 years before Haverhill started it back up, which was our team,” Sprague noted.

The Haverhill High School 50th hockey anniversary, Saturday, Feb. 17 starts at 3 p.m. with a gathering of the first varsity team in school history followed by a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and the start of the game at 4 p.m. against Shawsheen After the game, Sprague says anyone who has been involved with the Haverhill High School hockey program over the past 50 years is invited to the American Legion Wilbur M. Comeau Post 4, at 1324 Main St., to “talk hockey.”  For more information, Sprague can be reached at 978-994-4463 or by email at [email protected].

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