Lincs’ committee honours three teams from the early 1970s
By Pat Payton
On the wall of the St. Marys Lincolns’ dressing room are the words, ‘Honour the past and build the future.’
Last Friday, the long and rich history of the Lincs was again on display as the team’s Alumni Committee honoured three teams from the early 1970s. It’s now been 50 years since those teams (1970-71, 1971-72 and 1972-73) represented St. Marys in the Western Jr. ‘B’ Hockey League.
The late Barry Hearn was the coach and Mike Brogden the GM and architect of all three teams. The 1971-72 Lincolns were All-Ontario finalists. Rick Fifield was a player and prolific goal-scorer and a member of all three teams, and Ed Parkinson was captain of the team from 1970 to ‘72.
Players, executive members and team doctor Ellis Scott gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 236, in the afternoon for reminiscing, story-telling and camaraderie. After George Cifa said grace, a gourmet beef brisket dinner was provided by chef Chris Campbell, followed by a short program.
After everyone introduced themselves and their spouse, Master of Ceremonies Jamie Hahn gave opening remarks, noting that the Lincs have been operating for 66 consecutive years. “It’s a milestone we should all be proud of,” he said. “The team has provided many years of entertainment for the town.”
Jacques Cousineau welcomed everyone on behalf of the Alumni Committee, and then Scott Graham and Jack Valiquette spoke on behalf of the Alumni. The committee was formed in 2018, and chair Mike Mattiussi has done a great job leading the group from the start.
Honouring the history of the organization
“The Lincoln Alumni group believes our mission is to honour the history of this organization and support team management as they build for today and the future,” Graham said in his address.
“The present team management and executive are working diligently to put a competitive team on the ice every year. We’ve got some guys from town, General Manager Greg Smale is doing a really great job and executive president Brandon Boyd is doing a tremendous job.
“And I have to acknowledge ‘The Bear’ Rob Mossey. He’s a guy that everybody should take their hat off to. He has sold thousands of Elimination draw tickets. It’s guys like him who keep this team rolling. The team has gone through some great years and lean years, so it’s good to acknowledge those types of guys.”
Graham also read the Alumni’s mission statement. “Once a Lincoln, always a Lincoln demonstrates the belief that we are all part of the Lincoln family and part of the Lincoln fraternity. No matter how many games you played, every guy who pulled on that jersey is part of that history of this great team. You are being recognized today for the important part you played in the history of the Lincolns.”
A one-time $100 donation gets former players and executive members a life-time membership with the Alumni group, Graham noted. “That contribution enables us to honour the players who continue to write the history of this illustrious team and complete the projects that have enhanced and benefitted the Lincolns. Please consider joining the Lincolns’ Alumni group,” he added.
‘One of the best years of his life’
Valiquette acknowledged that the 1972-73 season he spent with the Lincs was one of the best years of his life. The big centreman went on to be a first-round pick in the NHL draft and play with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Rockies.
“I couldn’t be happier to come back and see everybody and reminisce about things. I was kind of hurt, I got cut by the team the year before, but I still came back,” Valiquette said with a laugh. “Right away when I got the email, I called my brother Pat, who couldn’t make it this weekend. He would love to be here to see some of his buddies and reminisce.
“Fifty years, boy it goes fast doesn’t it? The year I was here we had a lot of fun. O’Connell and Thorpey, the goaltenders, and all the guys . . . we had a great year. Like they say, ‘Once a Lincoln, always a Lincoln.’ It’s funny, but it also said that on our Maple Leaf, ‘Once a Leaf, always a Leaf.’ One game and you’re an Alumni for life.”
Valiquette, who now makes his home in Barrie with his wife Julie, fondly remembers playing on a line with Fifield.
“Ricky was my winger, the powerplay; we had an absolute ball. To play with guys like Rick and then I went up to the Soo and had a great year. Thank God I had two great years,” he said jokingly.
“Then I played for Don Cherry in Colorado. He’s exactly what you see on TV, he’s all heart, all Canadian, with a little bit of showmanship. Those years were great as well.”
During dinner, Valiquette said the best player he played pro with was defenceman Borje Salming, the best opponent he played against was New York Islanders’ centre Bryan Trottier, and the best captain he played under was Leafs’ centre Darryl Sittler.
Following the speeches, everyone was invited to head up to the St. Marys-London GOJHL game at the PRC. “It was great to reconnect today,” MC Hahn summed up.
During the first and second-period intermission, Hahn – also the team’s public address announcer – read out the names of the members of all three teams.
Note: At the Legion earlier in the day was a display of Lincs’ memorabilia from Jacques Cousineau’s collection. It featured stories and photos of the three honoured teams (1970-73).