The Winnipeg Tribune described the 1950 Eastern Canadian Junior lacrosse play off between the St. Catherine's Athletics and the Manitoba All Starts this way: "The thrill that local lacrosse fans experienced over the weekend was one that will be long remembered by lovers of Canada's national game". The Winnipeg Free Press described the series as: The finest exhibition of lacrosse that has ever been seen".

In 1948, the St. Catherine squad rolled through Winnipeg trouncing the Isaac Brock team representing Manitoba in a quick two game total goal series. But in 1950, the Manitoba All Stars showed that a stop in Winnipeg is no longer the free space on the Minto Cup bingo card. Prior to the start of the series Tom O'Brien president of the Manitoba Lacrosse association labeled this squad as the best ever assembled by the province of Manitoba. While not winning a game in the two out of three series, Manitoba came within seconds of creating the "biggest upset in sport in modern times" (Winnipeg Free Press).

After a less than stellar performance in the '49 series, the MLA chose again to assemble an all star team to present the province. A week long training camp, attended by over 30 players, and an exhibition game against the Senior Elmwood Pats, coach Len Swafford and manager selected 17 players to wear the provincial colours. For the first time, Manitoba had a true all star team composed of 8 Elmwood Terriers- Al Smallwood, Jack Rafferty, Bill Swanke, Ted Ermet, Al Bennett, Lionel Merrick, Keith Gray, and Clark Hicks, 4 Deer Lodge Hornets- Jimmie McGeorge, Len Brown, Bob McKracken, and Frank Horch, and 2 players from Isaac Brock- Bill Curtis and Charlie Sabo. The team was a significant overall '49 squad, which was had seven juvenile aged players. These younger players were replaced junior aged players who competed regularly in the Senior League- seven of these players had Minto experience.

For all the confidence expressed by the Manitoba Lacrosse Association officials, the first game started in typical fashion with the Eastern squad building an 8-0 lead in the first periods. A small but vocal squad at the Olympic rink cheered themselves hoarse as the Manitoba boys clawed their way back into the game. Deep into the final period, Manitoba tied the Ontario squad on a goal by Al Smallwood and took the lead for the first time on a goal by Len Brown with only 54 seconds remaining in the game. With only seconds on the clock St. Kitt's Derry Davies scooped a loose ball and beat 'Toba goalie, Keith Gray to tied the game. In the overtime Charlie Sabo drew first blood scoring in the first 47 seconds of overtime. But as the overtime wore on, the pace of game and penalties proved to be the undoing for the plucky 'Tobans. Final score St. Catherine's 21 and Manitoba 16. Jim McGeorge led Manitoba scoring with 5 goals, Merrick, Brown, and Ridler contributed 2 goals apiece and singles going to Sabo, Curtis, Swanke, and Smallwood. Keith Gray who came into replace an injured Clark Hicks keep the home province in the game with numerous outstanding saves.

In the second game, St Kitts started quick holding the lead through the entire game. The second game was a more defensive affair, as the Ontario squad realized they needed to respect the offensive talent of the All Stars. St. Kitts jumped out to 5-1 led in the first period. In the second period the 'Tobans narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the second frame and taking a 7-6 leading going into the final period. In the final frame the experienced and skilled Ontario scored 2 goals up 2 goals, "ragged" the ball and running out the clock.

With both teams emphasizing defense, the contest was a bit rough and tumble with numerous rhubarbs throughout the game. It was a series of penalties in the third period that nearly led to Manitoba stealing the victory.

Goal scores for Manitoba: Merrick (2), Smallwood (1), Houck (1), Ridler (1), Bennett (1), and Sabo (1). Hicks and Gray splitting the goal tending duties played brilliantly turning back numerous point point shots.

In an ironic twist, MLA president, Tom O'Brien presented St. Catherine's with the Minto Cup. St.C. thought they had won the trophy sweeping the Vancouver Burrards. On their way home they were informed they would need to compete in Winnipeg to keep the Cup. This could only happen in lacrosse.

While some say there is no such thing as a moral victory in sports, 1950 proved to be the turning point in Manitoba lacrosse, as Manitoba was able to compete on an equal footing with the big boys. The best was yet come when the first graduating class of the Greater Winnipeg Juvenile League filled the Manitoba Junior League with an influx of talent.




Announcements (View All)


The Winnipeg Tribune described the 1950 Eastern Canadian Junior lacrosse play off between the St. Catherine's Athletics and the Manitoba All Starts this way: "The thrill that local lacrosse fans...


In the late '30's and '40's minor lacrosse lay dormant in Winnipeg and Manitoba for more than eight years until the arrival of Tom O'Brien from Brampton, Ontario. Tom. A long time lacrosse...


The decline in popularity of the game of lacrosse in Winnipeg can be directly linked to the Winnipeg School Division's decision to end the Winnipeg Schools Lacrosse League is 1929. The loss of...


Robert Smith, a fine lacrosse player in Ontario, joined the Winnipeg School Board in 1893. His experience in organizing lacrosse (secretary for the Winnipeg Lacrosse Club) and enthusiastic belief...