Ray Allison blended talent and toughness to become one of the greatest players in Brandon Wheat Kings history.
A product of Cranbrook, B.C., Allison split the 1975-76 season between the Wheat Kings and their farm club, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Brandon Travellers. Even at 16, which was a lot rarer at the time than it is now, he managed 26 points in 36 games in the WHL.
He became a full-time Wheat King in 1976-77, and over three years put up 137, 160 and 153 points, finishing second overall in league scoring each year. He remains second in franchise history with 476 points in 242 games, trailing only his linemate Brian Propp who finished with 511 points. He is fourth in career goals with 188 and second in assists with 288.
He was no slouch in the post-season either, contributing 37 points in 22 games in the playoffs and eight points in five games at the Memorial Cup. After the season, he was picked 18th overall in the first round by the Hartford Whalers in 1979.
Allison played 237 NHL games and also skated in Europe, retiring after the 1993-94 season.
He worked for more than two decades at a bulk cream spending business in New Jersey, and is now retired in South Carolina.
He was named the 28th best player in WHL history when their all-time top 50 players were unveiled in 2016.
LAURIE BOSCHMAN: "Ray lived at our house for a couple of years so I considered him an older brother that I didn’t have. I had a younger brother. Ray was a great junior player. We clicked as linemates with Propp after Billy Derlago left. Ray was tough, he had a quick release. It was just a pleasure to play with both Ray and Brian."
BRIAN PROPP: "I’ve known (Ray) for 41 years … He’s down in Myrtle Beach, he retired there so I don’t see him as much anymore because we lived in Cherry Hill most of the time that we were together. He came in at the same time. I think he played a year before with the Travellers. He was a great linemate. He was so strong and good with the puck, passing and shooting. He was good in the corners and he fed me the puck. He’s such a good guy, a good friend and he always looked much younger than the other players because he had a baby face."
GREGG DRINNAN (Brandon Sun): "Of the three of them (on the top line), I thought (Ray) was the best all-around player at both ends of the ice, offensively and defensively. He wasn’t a guy who was going to get you 190 points but he was certainly going to score some and he was tough and could handle himself … He was a really, really good junior. Of the three of them, he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves after the fact."
RICK KNICKLE: "Ray was more of a complete player as a junior than Brian was and Laurie was. Hard-nosed, could shoot the puck off the wing, really good accurate snapshot. In the olden days, the Danny Gares and Guy Lafleurs and those guys would go down the wing and could rip shots from the top of the circles. He was hard-nosed, could fight, very tough."
STEPHEN PATRICK: "Ray wasn’t as intense (as Propp) but he had a great toe drag. He was a little more quiet but really talented … They all complemented each other. That Boston line reminds of them, with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Whenever I watch Boston, it reminds me of Propp, Allison and Boschman."
KELLY McCRIMMON: "Ray was such a good winger. He was uber talented and could play any way you wanted. He was tough, he played hard, he played every night and was always there."
TIM LOCKRIDGE: "Ray was a little more intense with worrying about the games. It got under his skin a little more than the other guys because of his intensity. I played a little bit of Brandon Travellers with him too. We were actually teammates for four years. The one thing about Ray, he was off by himself a little bit. Not in a bad way, but off the ice, he wasn’t always in that little clique. He did what he wanted to do, very aloof in a sense."
BRIAN PROPP: "Ray’s really humble. He didn’t like the press and was quiet but a great leader. He was really fast but he played hard."
MIKE PEROVICH: "(Ray) was a good guy, a great player. He kept to himself. I didn’t really see much of Ray off the ice. He led by example though his actions. He wasn’t a big talker, he just went out there and did it. He didn’t say too much in the dressing room, but when he did, you listened."
DAVE McDONALD: "Ray was a good talent. He had an excellent slapshot. Individually as people they were all good guys. Ray worked hard. He wasn’t as talented as Brian or Laurie, but he worked his butt off, and when he had a chance to put the puck in the net, he had a great slapshot. There was a lot of effort from him."
WES COULSON: "Ray was a good teammate. He was a tough kid. I want to say he’s the only guy who finished second in the Western Hockey League in scoring three years in a row (behind Propp and Derlago). He would always stand up for you if somebody took a cheap shot at you and he had tons of talent too … He was a hard-nosed kid and worked hard."
DAVE STEWART: "Ray is a good guy. He’s down to earth, he wasn’t too much of a big talker. He had a helluva shot. He was a natural right winger, up and down."
DON GILLEN: "(Ray) was similar (to Propp). He maybe wasn’t quite as focused but still very focused."
DAVE CHARTIER: "Ray was a great guy, he was a good team guy too. Ray was a monster back then."
BRUCE PENTON (Brandon Sun): "(Ray) was sort of a lesser version of Propp. He was a strong kid, he had great upper body strength … He wasn’t as strong a skater as Propp but he had a great shot too. He was a good skater, don’t get me wrong, he just wasn’t quite as good as Propp but he was strong and had a good shot. He played the right side, Propp played the left side and Boschman was in the middle. He was also tough. Allison didn’t mind scrapping. He scrapped quite a bit, although to have a guy on your top line spending a lot of time in the penalty box wasn’t very smart and I think Dunc toned him down a little bit. Boy, he could handle himself."
» Twitter: @PerryBergson