Nations in 80
The Coquitlam Adanacs lacrosse club celebrated its finest hour on July 17, 1980. Playing before 8,000 wildly cheering fans in Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, the Adanacs, presenting Canada West, emerged as the undefeated winners of Nations ’80, the first world box lacrosse championship, with a 16-11 victory over the North American Native Warriors. Canada East, representing Canada East, took the bronze medal. United States and Australia also participated.
The world championship tournament was the brainchild of former B.C. Lacrosse Association president Ed Linstead. A proposal, sanctioned by the Canadian Lacrosse Association, was submitted to the International Federation of Amateur Lacrosse during the 1978 World Field Lacrosse Championships in England; it was eagerly accepted.
Australia and United States had, for some time, been forces in field lacrosse and were enthusiastic about expanding their talents to the box game. England initially displayed interest but later decided not to participate.
The round-robin format, then, would involve the US, Australia, Canada East, Canada West and an all-star North American Indian squad. The two Canadian teams were determined by which clubs led the Western Lacrosse Association and the Ontario Major League three weeks prior to the July 10 Nations ’80 kickoff.
Hosted by the B.C. Lacrosse Association, games were held in Victoria, New Westminster, Nanaimo, Coquitlam and Vancouver.
The first opponent for Canada West’s Adanacs was the North American Native Warriors, an all-star unit drawn from Quebec, Ontario, New York and B.C. teams and coached by Roy Pinder and Hall-of Famer, Ross Powless. Led by Dan Wilson’s six-point effort, the Adanacs pounded out a 16-9 victory. Meanwhile, Canada East took a 15-10 overtime decision from the US.
Adanacs’ second opponent was a game but inexperienced Australian unit. Again, led by Dan Wilson – this time with nine points – Adanacs took a 21-7 decision. The Warriors revenged its earlier tournament loss with a 15-6 win over the US.
Canada East, as predicted, was the toughest opponent for the Adanacs. Down by two goals entering the final period, Adanacs shook off the aches and pains of three games in as many days to capture a hard-fought 9-7 victory. In another game, a 10-point performance by North Vancouver’s Wayne Baker carried the Warriors to a 26-4 decision over Australia.
Canada West (Adanacs) – with a three win, no loss record – finally got a rest on day Four. Canada East squeezed by the Warriors 19-18 while the US tasted victory with a 16-13 overtime decision over Australia.
On day Five, the Adanacs completed the round-robin section of the competition with an 18-7 win over the US while Canada East downed Australia 20-7.
Canada East (3-1) now met the North American Warriors (2-2) for the right to take on the Adanacs (4-0) in the championship game; the Warriors prevailed, upsetting Canada East 13-9.
The Warriors played valiantly in the championship game and actually held a 4-3 lead after one period. The score was 8-6 for Adanacs after 40 minutes but the Warriors finally wilted under a 27-shot, 8-goal Adanac attack in the final period, losing 16-11.
Adanacs’ Dan Wilson, with 12 goals and 18 assists in five games, not surprisingly was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
A footnote: The Adanacs, so impressed by Australia’s desire to learn more about the box lacrosse game, played a number of field and box lacrosse games in Australia the following year while conducting a series of training camps. Later, Adanacs’ Mike Reelie and Wayne McAuley played in the Australian box lacrosse winter league.