The old trophy case may be getting a little bit crowded.
In a season that can be safely termed just this side of dominant, the Vancouver Carlings box lacrosse club grabbed every conceivable trophy available to be won during the 1964 season. Most importantly, the Carlings won their second straight Mann Cup, indicative of lacrosse supremacy in Canada.
After a slow start to the Inter-City Lacrosse League season, the Carlings cruised through the stretch run outclassing the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Victoria Shamrocks, and Nanaimo Timbermen to take the league title, along with the CKNWTop Dog Trophy, with a record of twenty-three wins and nine losses.
By winning the league, the Carlings were awarded the free trip to the final of the league playoffs, awaiting the victor of the New Westminster-Victoria semi-final. The Salmonbellies won the unenviable task of facing the Carlings in the final and were overwhelmed by the Carlings’ potent attack and hard-nosed defence losing in six games. The Carlings earned the Justice W.A. MacDonald Trophy as the league playoff champions and the Kilmarnock Trophy as BC Champions.
From there, it was off to Ontario for the National Senior A Finals against the Brooklin Merchants. Brooklin roared out to a commanding 3-1 series lead, but the Carlings fought back with two close victories to even the series and force a deciding seventh game. In the seventh game, the “comeback kings” battled back from a 4-0 first period deficit to win easily 10-5 and grab Canadian lacrosse’s highest honour. It was only the fourth time that a western team had won in the East since boxla was introduced. Many called it the greatest series ever played.
For their efforts, the Carlings racked up an impressive list of individual awards and achievements. Gord Gimple was awarded the Maitland Trophy, which goes to the most sportsmanlike player that also contributed to minor lacrosse. Goaltender Norm Nestman collected an armful of awards including the Ed Bayley Award for the League’s Rookie of the Year, the Leo Nicholson Trophy for the League’s Outstanding Goaltender, and, finally, the Max McDonald Trophy for the League’s Playoff MVP. Alex MacKay was named Coach of the Year. Six Carling players were included on the All-Star squad.
And while the results and awards from the ’64 season stand up by itself as sufficient evidence to categorize this team as great, various Halls of Fame have only reinforced this for posterity. No less than twenty individuals from the Carlings, including players, coaches, executive, and support staff, have been inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in either the athlete or builder categories. Since 1972, when team doctor T.S. Perrett was the first of the Carling dynasty to be inducted, a steady march of Carlings have paraded into the Hall. The years may slowly pass by, but every year or so, another Carling team member becomes enshrined. In 1999, the entire Carlings club was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall in the team category, only the second team to receive the honour.
Following the Carlings’ Mann Cup victory, the Vancouver Sun proclaimed, “Mann Cup Boxla Champions Long on History.” This is undoubtedly true and they have an awful lot of trophies to prove it.
Bob Babcock, Gord Babcock (vice president), Bill Barbour, Peter Black, Ron Bodner, Alex Carey, Doug Carter, John Cervi, Bill Chisholm, Bill Ellison (president), Gord Frederickson, Gord Gimple, Ron Hemmerling, Gord Liebscher, Jake MacGregor (vice president), Alec MacKay (coach), Bob Marsh, Ross Mcdonald, Jack McKinnon (vice president and general manager), Lou Moro (trainer), Archie Neil (vice president), Ed Nelson, Norm Nestman, Bob Parry, Dr. Perrett (team doctor), Val Roberton, Bill Robinson, Joe Salley Sr. (equipment manager), Merv Schweitzer, Stan Shillington (secretary and statistician), Gary Stevens, John Surniak, Fred Usselman, Sid Warick.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.