Down Memory Lane - 1962 -- A ROBUST YEAR FOR O'KEEFES
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
There probably have been more dominating teams in Canadian box lacrosse history but, for desire and determination, the 1962 New Westminster O'Keefes reigned supreme.
The Salmonbellies' organization, playing under the sponsorship name of O'Keefes, kicked off the 1962 season well enough but not outstanding; however, the Jack Byford-coached team picked up steam as the season rolled on to an eventual Canadian championship.
The Royal City team was the first and remains the only Western representative to capture the Mann Cup four games straight playing in the unfriendly confines of an Ontario venue.
The O'Keefes of 1962 boasted a star-studded lineup that included eight future Hall of Famers on the regular roster. Cliff Sepka and Paul Parnell finished one-two in the scoring race, accumulating 194 points between them. Netminder Les Norman was at the top of his game with back-to-back goaltending MVP's.
But Vancouver was also considered a powerhouse and, as defending Mann Cup champions, would not roll over to its intiminating arch-rival. The two clubs faced each other 12 times during the season, splitting their matches six apiece with Vancouver outscoring O'Keefes 106 to 104 . Could any two teams be more equal?
After injuries struck down Harold Fox and Dave Tory, the great Jack Bionda rejoined the Royal Citv crew with 12 games remaining on the regular schedule. Then, veteran Bill Jobb and defensive specialist Doug McRory shucked aside their rocking chairs for one more adrenaline rush.
New Westminster was on. a winning roll but wasn't able to overtake Vancouver for the league title, losing by eight points. With O'Keefes turning aside Victoria and Vancouver dumping Nanaimo, an incredible exciting showdown for the provincial bragging rights loomed.
With overflowing crowds jamming Kerrisdale and Queens Park Arenas, why diddle with a well-established formula? The combatants split the first six games of the best-of-seven finals, New Westminster holding a slim 54-52 goal edge.
It was down to Game Seven, but even regulation 60 minutes wasn't enough; the whole season had come down to just 10 minutes of overtime play.
Bionda broke the deadlock on a pass from Jack Barclay then, with Vancouver pressing the attack without a netminder, O'Keefes added three insurance goals for a 13-9 victory... and a trip East.
The 'Bellies (oops, O'Keefes) bolstered its lineup by adding Vancouver's tough John Cervi and Nanaimo's Bob Allan to the roster while Brampton Excelsiors countered by nicking up Pat Baker and Glen Lotton from Brooklin and Ken Crawford and Florian Tomchyschyn from Port Credit.
From the 47 second mark of Game One when Jobb whipped in the first of his trio of goals, the eventual outcome became rather obvious. New Westminster won 11-8, 10-5, 20-11 and, finally, 10-6. The only time Brampton held a lead in the entire series was in Game Four when John Ford scored at 1:34 of the first period, an advantage wiped out three minutes later by Jobb.
In 1951, Bionda led a Brampton junior squad to the Minto Cup championship. Eleven years later, Brampton fans still cheered his efforts even though his series leading 16-point performance earned him the Mike Kelly MVP award and his western team the coveted Mann Cup.
Desire and determination, often called "guts", augmented by the presence of many, very talented players, always mix and match into greatness.