Lincs were a deep and talented squad, coached by team patriarch Stan Moore
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns are the second-longest running Junior ‘B’ hockey team in the province. Only the Waterloo Siskins have operated longer.
Lincs iced their first squad in 1956-57, and just six seasons later the team captured an Ontario championship. The 1962-63 Lincolns hoisted the Sutherland Cup on a spring night in Stratford after defeating the Kingston Frontenacs 5-4. They claimed the OHA final series in six games.
The ‘62-63 Lincs were a deep, talented and veteran team, and well-coached by team patriarch Stan Moore. The team also had a strong executive, led by president David R. Stevens and vice-president Kelly Hearn. Lincolns played 67 games that memorable season and lost just 13 times.
Lincs had scorers like Rick McCann, Jack Nairn, Bill Bannerman, John Campbell, Ron Ryan and Jacques Cousineau, solid defencemen such as Doug Galloway, captain Floyd Cowper, Doug Caley and Bill Dunnell, and steady goaltending with Jim Armstrong and George Cifa. Armstrong had some Jr. ‘A’ experience after playing with the Niagara Falls Flyers.
Experienced, balanced team
“We had quite a few 20-year-olds on that team and a lot of experience,” remembers Cousineau, who came down from Smooth Rock Falls as a 20-year-old to play for St. Marys. “We had a real balanced team.”
McCann, Ryan, Cousineau and Mike Mattiussi were the four centremen on the team.
“Ron, Mike and I had all played Intermediate hockey in the north for a year or two,” Cousineau said. “When we came down to St. Marys to play Junior hockey, we had already played in a men’s league for a couple of years. We had learned to play good positional hockey.
“Teams only played three lines in those days, and the third line on our team would have been the first line on almost any other team.”
Even before the Lincolns had played a single game that season, coach Moore told the players that they had the potential to win the All-Ontario championship.
“Stan Moore was a guy who was always positive,” Cousineau remembers. “He kept saying that we were the best team, but that we had to play like the best team. He had us convinced that we were the best team.”
Cifa remembers the 1962-63 Lincs as being a team — both on and off the ice.
“We did everything as a team,” he said. “On Friday nights after the games, we’d go to the Teen 20 dances. No matter what we did, whether it was things like Halloween, we did things as a team. I believe that is what drew us all together.”
Cifa said the Lincolns didn’t have a star player who was head and shoulders above the rest. “It was a team effort, and we had a really good coach, too,” he said. Cifa did note that Galloway was the most talented player he ever played with.
Mattiussi agrees that the Lincs were a “close-knit” team that season. A 19-year-old, he came down from Smooth Rock Falls, along with Cousineau.
“Everybody just seemed to get along that year,” Mattiussi said. “We never had to be told that. But you see teams like that, even in the pros. We had a lot of fun.”
Forced to play net
Mattiussi remembers an “incident” that season during a game in St. Thomas. It was on New Year’s day, and he was forced to play the final two periods in net.
“There was a big fight near the end of the first period, and we already had a short bench because some guys hadn’t returned from Christmas,” he recalled. “We only had the one goaltender and he got kicked out.
“We only had one guy left on the bench. Stan Moore said we didn’t have enough players to finish the game and was ready to pack up and go home.”
Mattiussi had just returned from the holiday break, driving 600 miles from Smooth Rock Falls to get back for that road game. “I said to Stan, ‘give me those flippin’ pads. I didn’t come this far to go home again.’ He asked me if I was kidding and then said ‘put them on.’”
Mattiussi said the Lincolns lost 4-2 that day, but he only allowed two goals. “I’m still cleaning my underwear because (Barons’ star) Wally Chase had a breakaway on me. I stopped him, but it was only because I was shaking so much,” he said with a laugh.
Defenceman Caley said special highlights for him were playing at the Olympia in Detroit, and against Wayne Cashman and Kingston Frontenacs in the Ontario final.
“I was the only (import) player from southwestern Ontario on the team; the rest were from the north,” said Caley, who grew up in Watford and now lives in Sarnia.
He recalled that he fought both Waterloo’s Larry Johnston and the Frontenacs’ Cashman. Both scraps were over pretty quickly, but he joked that he survived them.
“Johnston was a big boy,” Caley recalled. “I think he was 6 ft., 2 inches and weighed about 225 or 230 lbs. I also got in a fight with Wayne Cashman. It was short and sweet, believe me.”
‘Road to a championship’
In the 35-game regular schedule, Lincolns placed first in the six-team Western League–posting a record of 28-7-0. They clinched top spot with three games remaining, finishing eight points ahead of the second-place St. Thomas Barons.
The Lincs had lots of firepower. In 10 of their victories, the green and red scored a minimum of 10 goals–including 19 one night against last-place London. They finished with 282 goals–an average of just over eight a night. They allowed only 159 goals.
League playoffs began with Lincolns meeting the third-place Tillsonburg Mavericks. After the first three games were close, St. Marys completed a four-game sweep with a 9-2 victory.
In the Western final, Lincolns came up against St. Thomas, provincial runners-up the previous season. For the Lincs, it proved to be “the most hotly-contested series” of the entire season.
“St. Thomas had a similar team to us,” Cousineau recalled. “They had a veteran goaltender who had played some Jr. ‘A’, just like Jim Armstrong. St. Thomas was affiliated with Peterborough and they had about three players who had played Jr. ‘A’ up there. They were a good team and they gave us a very tough series.”
The series went the limit, with all seven games won by the home team. Lincolns won Game 7 in St. Marys, 7-1, to claim the league title. It was the only one-sided contest of the series.
Looking back, Cifa said his “favourite wins” were against St. Thomas. “They had a pretty good team as well, and they were the team to beat for us.”
(See Part 2 on the 1962-63 Lincolns championship season in next week’s Independent)