Beep beep!

The Richmond Roadrunners came out of nowhere to surprise everyone in their inaugural 1971 season. From a team that nearly folded the previous year in South Vancouver and relocated to Richmond to winning the Minto Cup in arguably the best junior lacrosse series ever played in Canada, the Roadrunners caught everyone off guard in an unlikely season for the ages.

No one saw it coming as coach Ron Phillips’ Roadrunners lost the season’s first five games. But Richmond lived up to its nickname with a feisty, young team built on speed led by the Tasker, Pinder, and Bregani brothers. The team began winning and finished the Pacific Junior A Lacrosse League season in second place with a 14-10 record. Crowds grew in size and craziness at Minoru Arena, christened ‘The Zoo,’ as Roadrunners fever caught fire.

After disposing of New Westminster in the semifinals, Richmond met heavily-favoured Burnaby Cablevision in the BC final. Moved to New West’s Queens Park Arena to accommodate the large crowds, the Roadrunners won the heart-stopping seventh game 14-12 in overtime, the fourth game of the series requiring OT.

The Minto Cup Canadian Junior A championship was also held at Queens Park and again Richmond was the heavy underdog. Electric crowds of 5000 fans saw Richmond and the Peterborough PCOs split the first six games. The series had it all: highlight reel goals, stellar goaltending, three more overtime thrillers, plus brawls, referees requiring police protection, even an octopus tossed onto the floor.

In Game 7 it took six goals from Richmond’s Walt Weaver, including two in overtime, for the Roadrunners to emerge victorious 13-11, marking western Canada’s first Minto Cup in nine years. Roadrunners goaltender Ted Gernaey was named the series MVP, while Dave Tasker led all scorers with 38 points.

Many credit the ensuing surge in BC minor lacrosse registrations to the widespread interest generated by Richmond’s stirring victory.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Team Members: Stan Ackerman (public relations), Ed Ashcroft, Barry Atkinson, Chuck Bourne, Gary Bregani, Jim Bregani, Jack Buchanan, Bill Clearie, Randy Crowe (president), Roy Crowe, Larry Dean, Dave Durante, Mal Follis (secretary-treasurer), Ted Gernaey, Bob Holmes, Doug May, Grant Macauley, Harvey Olsen, Gord Osinchuk, Tom Penway, Larry Phillips (team manager), Ron Phillips (coach and general manager), Gerry Pinder, Ron Pinder, Mike Safianuk, Pat Safianuk, Butch Skirzyk (assistant coach), Mike Smith, Fred Sutton (equipment manager), Bob Tasker, Brian Tasker, Dave Tasker, Bob Taylor (trainer), Dave Taylor, Gil Tetrault, Lyle Trowski, Walt Weaver, Sandy Wheelhouse