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Province’s lacrosse history remembered in Hall

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The Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum has announced that three teams, three builders, two player/builders and five players will be added to its ranks at an induction ceremony slated for Oct. 14 at the Elmwood Legion.

The teams entering the Hall are the 1951, 1954 and 1955 Manitoba Junior All-Stars that played for the Minto Cup, emblematic of the Canadian junior championship. The 1951 team won the Western Canadian championship over B.C., but lost the Canadian title to the Mimico Mountaineers.  

In 1954, the powerful Long Branch Monarchs came west, but lost to Manitoba. B.C. beat Manitoba in what was the east-west final. The next season, Manitoba  was once again the Western champ before losing to the Monarchs in the final. Goalkeeper Mike Tymchyshyn and Gord Horner played for the three teams while Gary Aldcorn, Len Morrow, Ross Fargey, Dick Paulley, Gord Chem, Joe Hunt, Ted Derrett, Ralph Lyndon, Daryl Young and Barry McQueen were on both the 1954 and 1955 teams coached by John Arondeus. Les Swaffer coached the 1951 team and Jim O’Dowda managed all three.
Keith McLennan, the youngest inductee, began playing lacrosse for the Kelvin Shamrock peewees in 1967 and went on to be the top-scoring junior in the Winnipeg Junior/Senior League and later was the league scoring champion in 1990, 1992 and 1996. In a national championship against Orangeville in the mid-1980s, McLennan was in on almost every Manitoba goal. He scored late in the game to give Manitoba a 12-11 lead. Orangeville finally found a way to stop him. As he scored the 12th goal, he received a cross-check to the face that broke his jaw.  Orangeville won the game 13-12.

When field lacrosse was re-introduced to the province, the Manitoba All-Stars won the Canadian Division 2 title in 1985 and again in 1986. McLennan was named series MVP both years. McLennan continues to be involved in the game and coached the Gryphons to the Manitoba junior championship this year, a team that included his son, Trent.

A prolific goal scorer and solid defensive player,  Ralph Lyndon enters the lacrosse Hall after a career where he was a member of the Manitoba Junior All-Stars in 1952, ’53, ’54, ’55 and ’56. At the end of the 1955 junior season, the Victoria Shamrocks wanted to add him to their senior team but the Canadian Lacrosse Association wouldn’t approve the move. The versatile Lyndon was a member of three provincial championship teams in 1954-55, playing football for the Winnipeg Rods and hockey for the Winnipeg Monarchs. He missed the national final with the Rods as he was playing hockey in England for the Harringay Racers.

Clark Hicks is being inducted as a player after being recognized as the top junior goaltender in the province during the 1950s. He also went on to star in the senior league.  Hicks had lightning quick hands, making saves and also passing to teammates as they broke toward the opposition goal.

Bill Stearns enters the Hall with a reputation of being the best crease man to play in his era, which was the 1970s. He spent countless hours working on his stickhandling and shooting at Kelvin Community Centre. Always listed high in the scoring stats, Stearns was also an excellent defensive player. He was with the Winnipeg North Star juniors and later played for the senior St. Boniface Clubs, a team that won a number of provincial crowns. He represented the province several times with the Manitoba All-Stars.

The final 2012 Hall of Famer in the player category is Merrill (Butch) Wozniak, who played from 1945 until 1960.  An all-around player with a terrific scoring touch, Wozniak was named to three all-star teams in 1951, ’52 and ’53.  He was a member of the 1951 Junior All-Stars that won the province’s first Western title. He served as president of the Manitoba Lacrosse Alumni from 1986 until 2007.

If Manitobans knew of only one lacrosse player it would likely be Harry Nightingale. A star player in the 1960s and ’70s, Nightingale was the top scorer in 1965 and ’67 and MVP in 1964 and ’67. But Nightingale enters the Hall as a player/builder because he did so much more than play the game.  He was a referee, a coach and was president of the Manitoba Lacrosse Association from 1964 until 1972. He is currently president of the Manitoba Hall of Fame and Museum.

Also being recognized as a player/builder is Sam Thompson, who played for the Winnipeg Argonauts in the 1920s, first in field and later in box. Sam and the Argonauts played for the Canadian senior championship in Toronto. He was president of the Argonaut Amateur Athletic Association.

A trophy in memory of builder inductee Cliff Hamilton is awarded annually to the provincial peewee champs. Hamilton, a talented goal scorer, was a member of the 1951 Junior All-Stars and coached at Kelvin, Chalmers, East Elmwood, East St. Paul and CPAC. He was also a referee and served as president of the Manitoba Lacrosse Association for eight years.

The second builder, Tom O’Brien, came to Winnipeg from Brampton, Ont., and in 1944 restarted the  city’s minor lacrosse system leading to the juniors making their three Minto Cup appearances. He was president of the Canadian Lacrosse Association from 1950 to 1952. At the same time he continued to coach and fundraise in Deer Lodge.

Alan Parker began playing field lacrosse in 1960 and continued as a player, coach and organizer until 2010. He coached junior high field lacrosse in the 1980s and the Dakota field lacrosse team from 1993 to 1996, winning the high school championship in 1994 and the league title in 1995. He has organized tournaments, clinics and workshops throughout the province and won the Canadian Lacrosse Volunteer Award in 1990.

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