Jim Rivers has called a number of different sports in his four-decade career as a broadcaster, but when it comes to high school hockey, there may be no greater authority. From his days calling high school and New England Hockey League semi pro games with Dick Osborne in the early 1970s, to the more than 1,000 games he broadcast with longtime partner Harvey Smith of Concord, Rivers has seen just about everything when it comes to hockey in New Hampshire.
Rivers was hired in 1971 and joined Dick Osborne (’04 Inductee) to call games for WKXL Radio in Concord, with Osborne handling the play-by-play and Rivers the color commentary. In addition to broadcasting games involving Concord and Bishop Brady, they’d travel the region to call semipro games in the New England Hockey League.
“We’d do a high school game in the afternoon and a New England Hockey League game that night,” said Rivers. “It was a great opportunity to see plenty of hockey at a couple of different levels the same day.”
When Osborne moved on to become the voice of University of New Hampshire hockey in 1979, Rivers was joined by Smith, a partnership that lasted until Smith’s retirement 2009. The pair was recognized as the longest continuous high school sports broadcast team in the country, handling a multitude of sports on both radio and television.
Rivers feels fortunate in having grown up in the shadow of the Boston market listening to the broadcasting legends who announced the Boston professional teams, particularly Bruins voice Bob Wilson and former college professor Fred Cusick.
“To grow up in New England, you’re in the shadow of the Boston TV/radio market,” he said. “Bob Wilson was one of the best ever. In other sports you also had Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin, and Ken Coleman. When you traveled to other parts of the country and heard the broadcasters for those teams, you realized how good we had it.”
As far as his most memorable broadcasting moment, Rivers looks back to back-to-back games at the state tournament at Snively Arena in Durham in 1973. In the semifinals, Bishop Brady pulled one of the great upsets in state tourney history, beating Berlin after getting trounced by that team during the last week of the regular season.
“They shocked the high school hockey world,” said Rivers. “They had no business beating Berlin but they did.”
The next night, the Green Giants were within seconds of closing out Hanover for their first-ever state title, but the Marauders produced the equalizer in the final seconds and then won in overtime.
Rivers got a chance to broadcast the U.S. Olympic team when it played an exhibition game in Manchester in 1980, calling the game with Bob Norton. He also spent the better part of a decade calling games for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs with play-by-play man Ken Cail (’10 Inductee). He is a former New Hampshire Sportscaster of the Year.
He currently is the voice of New England College hockey. He lives in Contoocook with his wife, Deborah and their terrier, “Ziggy.”