History of the A's

 
 

Athletics Get Stronger in 1946

 
 

1946—the war was over, a massive return of Canadians to civilian life, the beginning of the baby boom, and a great year for the St. Catharines Athletics. Teams all across the Ontario Lacrosse Association were seeing their rosters getting stronger as the available talent pool suddenly grew larger. In St. Catharines, players hanging up their military uniforms and donning the double blue uniforms of the local lacrosse team on a more full-time basis included Doug Favell, “Ham” Nelson, “Sparks”Urquhart, “Curly” Cheevers, Pat Smith, and the McMahons, “Wandy” and kid brother Jimmy. But a couple of the local veterans such as the popular “Tank” Teather and Port Dalhousie’s own Bill Mackie somehow got sidetracked and ended up in the uniforms of Russell Kelley’s Hamilton Tigers that year. An unfortunate sign of things to come for the local boxla fans. 

But for the moment, it really couldn’t look too much better. The 1946 team still had some of the fan favourites from the early Mann Cup teams such as Morton, “Wandy”, Cheevers and Urquhart, now lining up with some great youngsters that were just hitting their stride like “Ham” Nelson (back from the RCAF), Stu Scott and Jim McMahon. The overall win-loss record of the ’46 crew would be second only to the 1938 Hall Of Fame team in St. Catharines senior boxla history, and was destined to have a late season rendezvous with the New Westminster Salmonbellies for Mann Cup number five. 

When you stop to throw in a Minto championship for the Jr. Athletics in 1947, it would seem the Haig Bowler’s dynasty would just keep rolling along well into the rock-and-roll 50’s. Well, that’s how it looked on paper anyways. 

For now it’s the ’46 Athletics, one of the highest scoring teams in O.L.A. history, against another storied franchise, the Brampton Excelsiors with future Hall-Of-Famer Billy Brunskill lighting it up as he often did. 

 

A’s  RALLY  FROM  EARLY  LOSS  TO  DOWN  BRAMPTON  BY  19 – 12  SCORE  AND  BOOST  SENIOR  BOXLA  LEAD 

The St. Catharines Standard 

Monday June 24, 1946  

Down 6 – 1 in the first period at Rose Bowl in Brampton on Saturday night, it took a courageous comeback on the part of St. Catharines Athletics, the Eastern Canada lacrosse champions to rise to a well-merited 19 – 12 victory over the red-white Excelsiors of Coach Bert Large. The win was necessary, to offset the current challenge of Owen Sound Georgians, who cling doggedly to the heels of the double-blue Cleverley clan. Saints did not appear to get going in the early stages and by 4 ½ minutes, the homesters had hopped into a 4 – 0 lead. First bid for a goal from A’s came at 3:45, when Jimmy McMahon sagged the hemp, but it was disallowed as a crease step. When Pung Morton was tagged at 6:00 for slashing Ferrie, A’s hustled plenty to kill off the odd man, but the Rose Bowlers went up to 5 – 0 and in less than 3 minutes more they had made it the even six and kept Saints off the sheet. Finally Billy Nelson broke the ice on Pat Smith’s set-up in ten seconds at 6 – 1. Closing the chapter, Urquhart was gated for slashing and Graham for charging 15 seconds part and both sat out the start of the second. It was the first time this season that A’s had trailed by as big a lead. 

Tied At The Half 

A little verbal urging in the rest period brought Saints out fighting mad. Billy Nelson and Stu Scott stepped into the breach with some nifty stick, foot and head work and rapped two quickies in before the minute-mark, with Scott getting a second on a backhander at 1:25, then setting up Jim McMahon and A’s were only down one at 6 – 5. They could not make Anthony’s penalty pay off at 4:25, but at full power, Nelson aided Smith to tie the tally at 6-all. In seconds Morton set MacDonald up and A’s assumed the van for the first time. MacDonald was benched at 10:50 and Billy Brunskill tallied right form the face off. A’s tried to rag the ball, but play was called on Jack McMahon and a face-off forced. With a minute to go, Taylor slashed Morton and was off duty to open the third, the period ending at 7 – 7. 

New Way to Stall. 

The boys just got nicely away in the third when the time clock stopped and it took 10 minutes to get another in action, so they started at scratch again. Nelson, still hot as a tamale, soloed in for the opener, Wandy McMahon made it 9 – 7 in another 1:25 and Cheevers from MacDonald 15 seconds later. Then Brunskill got two in a row, to make it four for him on the night, paring the lead back to 10 – 9 and Brampton fans rioted. 

Urquhart set up MacDonald for a two-goal lead and Graham from Binsell again cut it back to one. Excelsiors ran out of balls, when their goalie in clearing hoisted it over his back and out into the dark reaches of Idylwood Park, in what was intended as trying to cool Saints off by stalling the game and giving the fading Reds a breather. The final three minutes were scoreless, but A’s were playing better ball and retaining possession. 

Splurge for Eight. 

Some of the fast-snapping passes, dashes and shots of the last home game cropped up in the final, with the McMahon brothers doing a yeoman chore and aided splendidly by the rest of the Garden City blue-shirts. Jim McMahon put Saints two up and 42 seconds later Nelson set up Smith for 13 – 10. Brampton rallied then and Taylor whittled it back one, only to have Wandy McMahon twice give Norm MacDonald the needed passes for tallies, then Jim McMahon added one from Smith-Nelson to put A’s four to the good. 

The night’s spice came when Nelson and Binsell tangled for ten apiece and in 38 seconds Tommy Madsen drew a minor and had it upped to a major for talking back. Despite the shortage, Saints showed their class when Jimmy McMahon scored for a seven-goal lead at 18 – 11. Brunskill made it five for him at 13:40 and Urquhart from Wandy McMahon tapered off the night with the final 19 – 12. MacDonald was high sniper for A’s with 4 and 1, Nelson had 3 and 4, Wandy McMahon 1 and 3 and Smith and Scott 2 and 2 each. 

Brampton – Goal, Burroughs; defense, Anthony, Madgett (2); rover, Garbutt (1); centre, Taylor (1); forwards, Morris, Graham (2); alternates, Binsell, Brunskill (6); Gowland, Crawford, Ferrie, Wilson, Ewles, Lagerquist. 

St. Catharines – Goal, Favell; defense, Tom Madsen, Frank Madsen; rover, Nelson (3); centre Smith (2); forwards, Jim McMahon (4), Scott (2); subs, Urquhart (1), Morton (1), Cheevers (1), Wandy McMahon (1), MacDonald (4), McClelland. 

Officials – M. Haney of Mimico, and R.H. Carter of Toronto. 

Summary 

First Period

  Goal Assist Assist Time
Bram. Graham Anthony - 2:35
Bram. Brunskill Ferrie - 3:15
Bram. Madgett Graham - 3:35
Bram. Brunskill Taylor - 4:38
Bram. Garbutt Ferrie - 6:25
Bram. Madgett - - 9:22
St. C. Nelson Smith - 9:32

Penalties: Morton, Urquhart, Graham. 

Second Period

  Goal Assist Assist Time
St. C. Nelson Scott T. Madsen 0:18
St. C. Scott Nelson - 0:59
St. C. Scott - - 1:25
St. C. Jim McMahon Scott - 2:31
St. C. Smith Nelson - 7:26
St. C. MacDonald Morton - 8:00
Bram. Brunskill - - 10:52

Penalties: Anthony, MacDonald, Taylor. 

Third Period

  Goal Assist Assist Time
St. C. Nelson - - 2:00
St. C. W. McMahon Urquhart - 3:25
St. C. Cheevers MacDonald - 3:40
Bram. Brunskill Crawford - 6:45
Bram. Brunskill - - 11:00
St. C. MacDonald - - n/a
Bram. Graham Binsell - 12:17

Fourth Period

  Goal Assist Assist Time
St. C. Jim McMahon - - 1:13
St. C. Smith Nelson - 1:55
Bram. Taylor Garbutt - 3:50
St. C. MacDonald W. McMahon - 6:08
St. C. MacDonald W. McMahon - 8:15
St. C. Jim McMahon Smith Nelson 9:55
St. C. Jim McMahon - - 11:30
St. C. Morton - - 13:20
Bram. Brunskill Wilson - 13:40
St. C. Urquhart W. McMahon - 14:55

Penalties: Nelson (10 min.); Binsell (10 min.); T. Madsen (major)

Read the full story of the great Athletics team of 1946 in the featured stories section of this website.

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