2022 INDUCTEE- DAVE STONOGA
Dave Stonoga was an excellent athlete, excelling in hockey, baseball, and football. After some private tutoring by Harry Nightingale and hundreds of hours of throwing the ball against the school wall, Dave transferred his natural athletic ability to lacrosse.
Stonoga was an original Nor' Wester playing Bantam in 1969 for the brand new North End club. Dave led the team composed entirely new players losing in the Bantam finals.. In his first season of lacrosse he scored 25 goals.
In 1970 and 1971 Dave played for the Boyd Park Nor' Westers midget team. Both years Dave led the team in scoring with over 40 points (exact records were not kept) with at least 25 goals. In 1971 at the start of the third overtime period of the deciding game of the semifinals, Dave snagged the draw, sending Bob Zalusky in for the game-winning goal. In the final series he scored 7 goals in a three game series against the Kelvin Terriers.
In 1972 in his only year of Juvenile lacrosse., Dave captained the Nor 'Westers to the finals, losing again to the Kelvin team. Dave scored 30 goals that season.
In the 1973 semifinals, The Winnipeg Free Press described Dave as the "hero" scoring five goals to power the Nor 'Westers by the St. James Saints in the semifinals deciding game. The season ended with another loss in the finals, where Dave scored 6 goals in the three game series.
In 1974 and 1975, Dave scored over 20 goals (in the Senior/Junior league) both seasons with the Nor' Westers stumbling again in the junior finals.
In 1976, Dave finally led the Nor' Westers to the Promised Land. Stonoga scored four goals as the North End bunch swept the St. Boniface Tomahawks in the semis. But the captain saved his best for the final series against the rival Kelvin Terriers. Scoring 8 goals in the three game series. His final goal clinched the series for the Boyd Park squad, capturing their first provincial championship.
By virtue of being provincial champs, the North End boys travelled for the Junior B Championships in Windsor, Ontario. In the team's first appearance at the national level the team was overwhelmed by the surroundings and the competition. Dave scored 6 goals and was chosen the player of the game. While not winning a game in the tournament, the Manitoba representatives earned the respect from their opponents for the determination and toughness.
In 1977, the Nor' Westers entered a senior team into the Senior/ Junior league. The team was built around a nucleus of 6 graduating players from the championship junior team. After a rough start to the season Dave and the team improved throughout the season beating the North Stars in the semi-finals and losing to the veteran laden Elmwood Shamrocks. Dave shared the scoring lead with Mike Gilbert, both scoring between 20-25 goals.
The Shamrocks, as champions, earned the right to represent Manitoba at the Senior B National Championship- the President's Cup in Vernon BC. But due to work many of their players would be unable to attend, so the runners up Nor' Westers were asked to represent Manitoba. Because of a strike by Air Canada, the team was forced to travel 31 hours by van to Vernon. The young (most of the players were first year seniors) road weary team struggled with the level of competition, but put a real scare into the defending champion Vernon Lodge Tigers in the first game by jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Dave, one of the smallest players in the competition, contributed 6 goals over the three games.
In 1978, after another season with the senior Nor' Westers, Dave was chosen to the Manitoba All Star team to represent Manitoba at the Presidents Cup in Edmonton. Dave the youngest player on the team chipped in one goal as the Manitoba line up lost three games in the tournament.
In 1979, with the acquisition of Dave Steckler, Duncan Adams, Mike Donovan and Jim Thompson the senior Nor' Westers had the right mix of toughness and skill to capture their first senior title. Dave working well with his new teammates scored his usual 20 goals and contributed over 30 assists. But in usual Stonoga fashion he saved his best for the final series scoring 7 goals and 4 assists against the North Stars.
Dave started the 1980 season, but moved to BC to pursue a career in electronics and telecommunications. He missed being part of the 1980 championship team.
Dave was never, elected by the players or chosen by the coaches, to be captain of the Nor' Westers, he naturally assumed his position as team leader. His skills combined with his calm demeanor made him a natural leader. His positive attitude and determination carried the team through the many lean years. Under Dave's leadership the Nor' Westers made the finals 10 of his 11 years- quite an accomplishment in any league or sport.
Not only was Dave a leader on the floor, he also took a lead in the management and organization of the junior and senior teams. He was part of the leadership group that raised funds, purchased equipment, and promoted the game in North Winnipeg.
Dave's play and commitment to the game of lacrosse makes him a worthy candidate for the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame.