Down Memory Lane - Don Hamilton
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
It's no secret that netminders are a breed apart, not always watering at the same trough as normal human beings. Let's face it; a person has to be a little quirky to stand in front of someone slingshotting rubber missiles at his head.
Donald Brian Rickerby Hamilton fits comfortably into the pattern. Here you have a banking executive who is truly one of the nicest, most accommodating gentlemen you would ever hope to meet.
How about that for strange?
Hamilton's illustrious goaltending career actually began as a result of a childhood illness. At the age of 12, he desperately wanted to join his Victoria buddies playing the game of lacrosse but, due to his asthma, was unable to run. So, what to do? On went th epads and, as one is wont to say, the rest is history.
Working his way up the Victoria minor lacrosse system, Don played his first senior games in1 956 when, at the age of 19, Shamrocks called on him to fill in for the injured Geordie Johnston. He also backed up Johnston over the next two seasons while leading the Junior Shamrocks to two Minto Cup finals.
Don moved to Vancouver in 1960, sharing the netminding duties over the next two years with the fabled Stan Joseph. He stencilled his name forever into the lacrosse history books on September 23, 1961, when he blanked Brampton 13-0 to register the first and only shutout in Mann Cup play.
He returned to Vancouver in 1962, prepared to set the league on fire; but it was not to be for his job took him to Kamloops. Not to be discouraged, Don was instrumental in forming a Senior "B" team and started a minor lacrosse program, becoming the first president on the Kamloops Minor Lacrosse Association executive.
Hammie returned to Vancouver in 1968 where he starred for the next nine seasons. "There is more skill in playing goal in hockey, but, in Lacrosse, you take more of a physical beating", Hamilton once stated. "Watching the plays' stick and hands is a major part of the game for a lacrosse goalie. You really have to know your angles because the shots come so fast and from any direction. In hockey, the puck comes up at you. In lacrosse, the ball comes from anywhere. It is an instinct move a lot of the time because you just don't know where the ball is going to go.
Hamilton certainly speaks from experience. During the mid-1950's, he tended goal for Seattle Americans and the Victoria Cougars of the professional Western Hockey League an spent several years playing recreational hockey in Intermediate leagues in and around Vancouver. He was 39 years of age when he retired after the 1976 season, proud holder of a 75.2% shots-saved average by blocking 7,938 of the 10,560 shots thrown his way in 329 Senior "A" games. He also racked up 208 career assists and one goal.
Awards, obviously, were many - four times an all-star, three times the top goalie honours and two Mann Cup titles in three attempts.
Old players hang up their sticks but some of them refuse to fade away.
Hammie returned to Vancouver in 1977 as general manager to enjoy another Mann Cup victory. The same year he helped organize a field lacrosse league, becoming the first commissioner. Somehow he found time to join former teammate Bob Babcock in holding box lacrosse clinics throughout B.C..
In 1982, Don was the Western Manager of Team Canada who participated in the World Field Lacrosse Championship.
Mr. Nice Guy - inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1990 - remains active in the game today as a director of the Burrards Alumni and as a member of the Hall of Fame's Player Selection Committee.