In 1968 and 1969, the Western and Eastern Lacrosse Leagues formed a Semi-Professional League called the National Lacrosse Association (NLA).
In 1968, New Westminster finished the league standing in third place behind Portland and Vancouver. New Westminster beat Vancouver in a hard fought semi-final and then went on to beat Portland in six games to represent the West in the finals. The NLA Championship was played in New Westminster against the heavily favored Detroit Olympics, coached by the legendary Jim Bishop. The Salmonbellies won the World Championship in six games.
In 1969, New Westminster finished second, fourteen points behind Coquitlam. In the semi-finals, New Westminster beat Vancouver in four games and then went on to defeat Coquitlam in four straight games to again represent the West and travel to the NLA final in Peterborough. Peterborough was triumphant winning the seventh game 9-8 in front of a crowd of 5,000 people.
In 1970, the National Lacrosse Association folded and the two leagues played for the Mann Cup. New Westminster finished the league in first place and had a bye to the finals, where they defeated Coquitlam in six games. Peterborough travelled to New Westminster, where the Salmonbellies got their revenge from the previous year, and beat them in four straight games to win the Mann Cup.
In 1971, New Westminster finished the league in first place and defeated Vancouver in three games and beat Coquitlam in six games in the Western final. New Westminster faced Brantford in the Mann Cup. Brantford proved to be too superior for the Salmonbellies winning the title in four games.
In 1972, New Westminster again led the league and beat Victoria in four games to qualify for the finals. New Westminster had their hands full with Vancouver, but were able to beat them in the seventh game enabling them to host the Mann Cup. Brantford Warriors again were the eastern representatives. The Salmonbellies proved too much for Brantford and won the Mann Cup. This 1972 team was probably the strongest out of the five year run and had eight players who were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame Joe Comeau, Steve d'Easum, Kerry Gallagher, Wayne Goss, Al Lewthwaite, Paul Parnell, Ken Winzoski and Vancouver pick-up Bob Salt. During these five years, the Salmonbellies played 164 league games, winning 107. They scored 2,109 goals and allowed 1,738 to be scored against them.
Eight goalies and 68 players - some in a minor role - helped to contribute to the success of this great Salmonbellie era.
|view related content|