Back home on Friday and they could be the first senior St. Kitts team (of any ilk) to win an Ontario crown since 1963. It's been a long time.
The BBA (often calm and sedate) was electric on Sunday...greatly looking forward to more on Friday.
I'm new to this team, but I am impressed with the organization's ability to hit stride after some pumps along the way. And never easy to make the long ride up hwy 6 on a weekday to meet a rested elite team and come away twice with wins.
Love cheering for the Ohsweken lads playing with the locals and to boot, a McCready and a McNulty there to help lead them on...just like it was 1963.
Yep, it's been a long time...as it was too in 1963...
THROUGH THE SPORTS GATE
by Jack Gatecliff
The St. Catharines Standard
September 10, 1963
ITS BEEN A LONG TIME
This is how long it has been since a team based in St. Catharines last won an Ontario and Eastern Canada senior lacrosse championship.
The year was 1946:
Ø The St. Catharines junior hockey team was known as the Falcons.
Ø Canadian troops were still returning from both Asia and Europe after the conclusion of World War II.
Ø Syl Apps was captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ø Mickey Mantle was five years away from playing his first game with the Yankees.
Ø There was no Canadian television.
Ø Grey Cup tickets could be purchased the day of the game and the empty seats at Varsity Stadium out-numbered those filled.
Ø The fathers of two of the 1963 Athletics . . . Joe Cheevers and Doug Favell . . . were members of the Garden City team which defeated New Westminster Salmonbellies at Maple Leaf Gardens to win the Mann Cup.
Although it has been 17 years between titles, several members of the 1963 Athletics are no strangers to Mann Cup finals. Derry Davies, Jim McNulty and Gary Moore all played in championship series while members of British Columbia teams; Doug Smith, Gary Hind, Ted Howe and spare goaltender Justin Howe were with Fred Conradis Welland team which won an Ontario championship in 1958.
Although the way they celebrated their win last night you would honestly believe they were rookies rather than one of the oldest teams ever to take the Eastern title.
Its been a real struggle for the blue-shirts. They had to overcome not only apathy among the fans but also among the players. In fact until a few weeks before the start of the 1963 schedule there was some doubt that St. Catharines would field a senior club. The players themselves finally decided to go ahead. From their own members they elected an executive, then prevailed upon Conradis long-time assistant Jim Lomore to act as president.
The early games this year drew few spectators. However for once the team was not beset with players quitting in mid-season and it wasnt too long before older lacrosse fans, plus many new spectators, made the Wednesday night games a habit.
The playoffs against Brampton and Port Credit drew as many as 1,000 . . . perhaps a long way from the old days but still a good number in this era of skimpy attendance at summer sports.
The Athletics finished in a tie for first place with Brooklin but were shunted to second by a rather curious goal-average edict from the Ontario Lacrosse Association. (Brooklin was given the advantage although they played one more game than the As)
The St. Catharines team had more than its share of trouble from Brampton in the first round. They dropped two games at the Haig Bowl in overtime and after four games of the best-of-seven series were trailing 3 1.
Then everything started to come up roses.
With their holler guy Doug Smith back in the line-up they edged Brampton 8 7 in the fifth game at Haig Bowl to stave off elimination, trounced the Sealtests 11 3 in Brampton and finished them off before the largest crowd of the year in the seventh.
Port Credit meanwhile was scoring the biggest upset of the year in their seven-game win over Brooklin, but in the finals they were simply no match for the championship bound Athletics.
The St. Catharines defence, which on occasion had given goaltender Bob McCready shoddy assistance, steadied down. Hind, Smith, Davies and Don Carr are now in a class by themselves among Ontario defencemen.
Offensively McNulty and Moore fired the big bombs but were given more than adequate help from their attacking team-mates.
As usual the western champs will be heavily favored in the Mann Cup finals. However with the help of a half dozen players from the three other Ontario teams we have a suspicion that there may be a few surprises in Cornwall next week.
This is an experienced, capable lacrosse club.
Dont sell them short.
As for tonight's game, it was just brutal. The officiating was awful. Rob Milnes in particular got screwed and didn't even get kissed. He scored a goal in the second period that would have made the score 8-5 for the Saints. The ref waved it off, saying Milnes was in the crease (he wasn't). Milnes complained and got a penalty and the Saints ended up with a power-play goal.
Woodies captain Adam Jackson then slashed a guy in frustration. Boom, another penalty. Boom, another power-play goal. And what would have been an 8-5 score was now 10-4. Any momentum the Woodies had prior to that - zip, gone. A truly terrible call took them right out of the game for good.
Now, having said that, St. Catharines has undoubtedly been the better and more focused team these last three games. They're in the Woodies' heads. Gotta get them out of there and concentrate on the style of lacrosse that's won the last four provincial championships.
Yep, four in a row. That's quite a feat. Only one other Ontario Senior B team (the 1981-84 Orangeville Dufferin Northmen) has ever done it. Would the Saints be able to match that.....or could they be one and done? Word is they won't be back next year and might not even be able to afford to go to the Presidents Cup. The story goes that someone had to take out a personal loan midway through the season just to get them this far. Is it true? I guess maybe we'll see. That is, if they can indeed take the crown away from Owen Sound. Best of luck to them, and I mean that sincerely. May the better team win.
Oh, but about the supposed water-spraying incident - let's see the video the Saints supposedly have of this alleged crime before we go and hang anybody on the Woodies. Seems funny that no other team that's played against Owen Sound has EVER made such a complaint.....and believe me, Owen Sound has in the past beaten far better teams than this one without having to resort to such tactics. To accuse them of doing it prior to a game when they were leading the series 2-0 is just asinine.