1991 Mann Cup – Down Memory Lane

Ah, sweet syncopation — a sonorous chiming from Big Ben, a top-chart record spun by the Dean and the strains of a swan song whistled by the Dude.

When mixed generously with a harmonious supporting cast, the 1991 New Westminster Salmonbellies had orchestrated an incredibly decisive Mann Cup victory.

However, perception is everything; what is music for one may well be a grating caterwaul to others. While the Royal City faithful swayed to the Bellie boogie, the Brooklin Redmen played a game, but reluctant, dance partner.

Much was expected of the defending national champions. Brooklin had won 13 of 16 league games and then whipped Brampton four playoff games to one to earn the right to travel West to make their seventh consecutive Mann Cup appearance (four of them successful).

On the other hand, Salmonbellies placed second to Coquitlam in league play, winning 15 of 24 games. After dispatching Victoria 4-l in the semi-finals, New Westminster had to overcome a 3-2 game deficit to eliminate the Adanacs in seven.

Faster that you could blurt out “circumstances favoured Brooklin,” the Ontario representatives were ambushed.

Game One began on a positive note, ‘Bellies holding a 2-1 lead after five minutes. But that was it! New Westminster blasted 14 unanswered goals behind shell-shocked Brooklin netminders Ken Passfield and Brian Arnold to register a 17-3 drubbing. Todd Lorenz scored the only hattrick but Geordie Dean boasted eight points (one and seven), followed by Ben Hieltjes’ one and six.

The following night, ‘Bellies continued throwing lightning bolts at the thunder-struck Redmen. With Hieltjes picking up three goals to go with his four helpers, the New Westminster boys captured Game Two 13-5.

A day off seemed to inject new energy into the Brooklin lineup. The Easterners battled their way to an 8-6 lead after the first two periods, but were unable to escape a Fraser River flood of six, last period goals, losing the third game of the series 12-9.

Could Brooklin take Game Four and prolong the series? Well, they certainly gave it a good effort, taking a 2-0 first period lead. But, once again the Redmen hopes were dashed by a six-goal, Fishmen outburst that swept the Salmonbellies to an 8-5 victory and the Canadian title.

New Westminster had outscored Brooklin 50 goals to 22 but other factors further accentuated the domination — 16 powerplay goals to none, four shorthanded goals to one, four hattricks to one, and 78 assists to 30.

Individually, Big Ben Hieltjes topped the scoring column with 23 points in the four-game series while Dean racked up 20 points to set Mann Cup records for Most Assists and Most Points.

Geordie also won his second Mike Kelly Award (his first came in 1985) as the Mann Cup MVP.

For Dave Durante, it was an incredible high to end his 18-year, WLA career which saw the Dude score 609 goals and 900 assists for 1,509 points in 552 games.

And, for the New Westminster Salmonbellies, it was the fourteenth box lacrosse national championship, five more than any other team.

Related Images: