Down Memory Lane - Eric Cowieson
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington

 



He was a gentleman in an often-violent environment, a quiet leader with a big heart.

Eric Cowieson roamed the lacrosse floor with authority for 18 years in the trappings of the New Westminster Salmonbellies - the last 14 as team captain.

With the fans' spotlight trained on the multiple goalscorers, Eric's workmanlike efforts occasionally went unnoticed; but the players - both teammates and foes - recognized the truth. Eric was, in every sense, a star.

Born in Stonehaven, Scotland, on May 28, 1956, the Cowieson family moved to Burnaby soon after brother Keith was born - there's an eight-year difference in ages. It wasn't long before Eric joined a kid's soccer team and became fast friends with Mat Aitken. When summer arrived, Eric joined Mat on the North Burnaby PeeWee lacrosse club.

played a major role in Eric's athletic development, coaching him initially in soccer and then lacrosse. "Actually, Dan was my only lacrosse coach from Day One all the way through four years of Junior "A", recalled Eric.

In 1973, Cowieson, buddy Mat Aitken and Junior "B" teammates that included and , took part in the Canada Summer Games tournament, placing third behind Ontario and Nova Scotia.

A year later, Eric joined the powerful Burnaby Cablevision club for a four-year Junior "A" stint, the final season capped by a Minto Cup title.

Cowieson, now nicknamed "Eddie" because of an odd haircut he got that closely resembled one sported by Eddie Munster of TV's Munster Family, was known for his defensive rather than offensive skills; but, nevertheless, he recorded 88 goals and 153 assists for 241 points in 104 Junior "A" games.

In the 1978 junior entry draft, Eric was selected eighth overall by the Salmonbellies behind and (Victoria), and Mat Aitken (Coquitlam), (Nanaimo), (Vancouver) and (New Westminster). When he retired after the 1995 season, Eric had accumulated 1,045 points in 634 games - the seven players drafted ahead of him retired with a combined total of 1,233 points in 837 games.

When Cowieson donned the 'Bellies' red and blue uniform, yet another Royal City legend began. His consistency and quiet leadership led to his appointment as interim captain when was injured in 1980. When Goss retired after the 1981 season, Eric became the permanent captain, an honour he held until his own retirement.

Eric hated to miss a game, often playing injured. He played in 161 consecutive games between May 17, 1984 and May 12, 1988 a record second only to 's 195 consecutive games. In the 1994 WLA playoffs, Eric sustained a punctured lung. New Westminster subsequently went up against Six Nations for the Mann Cup and, despite the injury that pained with every breath, Eric would not be denied -- he put on a flack jacket and played all six games.

Cowieson wore the Number Six on his uniform throughout junior and senior lacrosse but Number Eight played an unusual role in his career. As a junior, Eric was called up by the Coquitlam Adanacs on June 1, 1977, and registered his first senior point with an assist on Number Eight 's goal. In his last game on September 13, 1995, Eric picked up his last point - an assist on a goal by , also Number Eight.

Eric owns two Mann Cup records - most games played (62) and most series (11). He also holds three WLA records - most playoff games (231), most total games played (634), and most assists on man-short goals (92).

It was a truly magnificent career - 1,045 total points on 385 goals and 660 assists, four Mann Cup championships, three league all-star placings, league playoff MVP in 1982 and the Mann Cup MVP in 1987.

Although he ended his playing career in 1995, Eric couldn't turn his back on the game he loved. He coached his son Christopher's PeeWee team for two years and, since 1998, has been on the senior 'Bellies' coaching staff.

It has been a splendid ride for a classy individual.