Down Memory Lane - 1957 Mann Cup Faux Pas
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Oh, what a terrible, tangled web we weave!
In 1957, the Peterborough lacrosse club travelled west in search of its fifth Mann Cup title in a seven-year span, but a stubborn obstinacy to buck the Canadian Lacrosse Association scuttled the quest before the first faceoff.
At the centre of the fiasco was future Hall of Famer Bobby Allan who had apparently signed two player forms -- one with his 1956 Nanaimo squad and then later with his hometown Peterborough team.
The Ontario Lacrosse Association permitted Allan to play the entire 1957 season with Peterborough; the CLA, however, ruled him ineligible for Mann Cup play which was scheduled to begin September 16.
And, so, the do-or-die poker game was now in session -- Peterborough on one side of the conflict, the CLA on the other.
Peterborough was again told that Allan could not play; but the team, noting the stands were filled with fans, remained adament. After all, how could the boxla bosses disappoint all those paying fans?
All of the Petes' chips were on the table, even though a good gambler knows you are asking for trouble if you 'go all in' without a pat hand. The CLA, however, refused to crumble under the pressure of the bluff.
Fruitless negotiations went on while the more than 3,300 confused fans sat impatiently for over an hour in Victoria's Memorial Arena. Finally, at 9:15 p.m., the ball was faced off, Bert Bertoia scored into an undefended goal, and Peterborough was sent packing.
The CLA ordered Peterborough's $1,000 bond forfeited and refused to pay any further expenses incurred by the stunned Ontario team.
Peterborough had just learned what many losing gamblers know all too well -- if you bet all, you've got in a high-stakes game, you better be certain you have the winning hand or you'll go broke, looking for a cheap way home.
Meanwhile, OLA president Ed Blair was on the telephone with Long Branch Pontiacs' manager Frank Ruse, frantically arranging to have the OLA runner-up team replace the Petes in Mann Cup play.
Long Branch flew out of Toronto Wednesday morning (September 18), arriving at the Pat Bay Airport in Victoria in the late afternoon. Just two hours later, the Pontiacs found themselves face-to-face with the Shamrocks in the first Mann Cup game.
The long trip from Toronto, plus a two-week layoff from action, were obstacles Long Branch simply could not overcome. With Donn Sherry and playing-coach Whitey Severson registering three-goal hattricks, the 'Rocks coasted to a 12-4 win.
If Victoria had thoughts of an easy series' victory, though, reality struck quickly in Game Two, two days later. Half way through the second period, the 'Rocks trailed the scrappy Pontiacs 8-3 before shaking off the cobwebs and frantically closing the gap. With just three minutes remaining in regulation time, Peewee Bradshaw slammed in a powerplay goal to tie the match and send the contest into overtime.
Bertoia, Skip MacKay and Ed Kowalyk got single markers in the extra stanza to clinch a hard-fought 12-9 win and take a two-game lead in the series.
The Pontiacs had given their best, but had simply run out of gas.
After Victoria captured Game Three 14-6, Long Branch coach Elmer Lee refused to alibi or offer excuses or blame.
"We haven't enough good lacrosse players," he told reporters. "I got eight, maybe nine. They're a good bunch but they are a year or two away from being a championship club. Do you want to know why the 'Rocks won? They went out there and fought. They scratched, clawed and kicked all the time."
Two nights later, it was all over.
Riding a six-goal, fourth-period barrage, Victoria wrapped up its second Canadian title in three years with a 13-4 win.
Meanwhile, the CLA imposed five-year suspensions on 14 Peterborough players and four officials, a penalty that was later reduced to one year. Only four players escaped the wrath of the CLA because they were not regular members of the team -- junior call-ups Ron Jay and Paul Parnell and pick-up replacements Doug Smith of St. Catharines and Florian Tomchyshyn of Long Branch.