DETROIT 15, VICTORIA 10 By DOUG PEDEN, Victoria Times-Colonist; July 11th, 1968
Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t want George Stephens. Neither did the Peterborough Lakers. The Victoria Shamrocks claim he’s pure poison.
The Detroit Olympics love the guy. They wouldn’t swap him for any other piece of property in the National Lacrosse Association or a sizable chunk of gold.
Often lethargic and sometimes confused, the Rocks were struggling to salvage their scalps in the early going against the fast-breaking, dead-eye- shooting Olympics.
They were trailing 13-3 midway in the second period before they settled into the hard-checking, running tactics that had enabled them to win four straight games and take four of their last six.
By that time it was obvious the Rocks would need a minor miracle or two to pull out a victory. They gave it a big try to score seven of the last 10 goals and would have made it uncomfortably close for the now faltering Olympics except for the brilliant and stubborn shot stopping of Stephens.
Stephens, who tried to earn a berth with Toronto and drew his release and later suffered the same fate with Peterborough, made a series of superb saves in the final period and Olympics were able to stagger home with a 15-10 triumph.
Most of the 4,481 fans who made up the largest crowd of the season in Memorial Arena were convinced the Shamrocks had squandered their chances after the Olympics scored the first four goals of the second period to run up that formidable 13-3 advantage.
Jim Bishop, the energetic coach of the Eastern Division leaders, didn’t see it that way. As far as he was concerned, his club, weary after an all-out struggle the previous night while losing a 16-14 decision at New Westminster, was in deep trouble in the final 20 minutes. “There’s the guy who saved us,’’ he said, pointing at Stephens in the Detroit dressing room. “He absolutely won it for us. “And don’t forget Gaylord and Billy, they were great for us.”
Nobody was likely to deny that Gaylord Powless and Bill Squire had earned the praise. Powless, the 21-year-old whiz who had collected six points at New Westminster, fired four goals and added three assists to take of over the association’s individual scoring lead. He now has a total of 90 points for a one- point advantage over Peterborough’s John Davis.
Shamrocks Forgot Checking Plans
Squires, getting one goal and one assist, wasn’t as prominent in the scoring parade but he punished the Shamrocks. He checked tenaciously, snatched a flock of loose balls and often sent his mates winging out of their own end on fast-breaking sorties. He also absorbed a lot of punishment and finished with his face adorned by stitches and angry bruises.
Smooth Grant Heffernan was another Olympic who displayed fine scoring skill and fired three goals. Heffernan may also have contributed a crushing blow to Victoria when he collided with Shamrock goalie Barry Forbes while scoring to give Detroit a 2- 1 lead at three minutes of the opening period.
Shaken up, Forbes was off for about three minutes for repairs while his replacement, Doug Thompson, stopped one of two Detroit shots. Barry was below his usual form when he returned to the nets and although he was a sizzling stopper in the final 30 minutes, the Olympics had all the goals they were to need.
It was a dissappointing night for the Rocks, who were so intent on a victory that their dressing room seemed charged with electricity while they waited for the battle to begin. Perhaps too tense and too anxious, they forgot to run or check and played some of their worst lacrosse while allowing the visitors to romp to the big lead.
They saved face and finally made it an interesting evening for the spectators with their closing drive, but this didn’t ease the pain of defeat.
“I guess we were just too tight at the start of the game,” commented coach Dave Unwin. “Our plan was to go out to check them at the start and wait for the breaks. Then we forgot all about checking and didn’t force any breaks.”