Lincolns’ great Jack Nairn also an outstanding coach

By Pat Payton

He was a local man well-known and respected in hockey circles all over southwestern Ontario.

St. Marys Lincolns’ great Jack Nairn, 77, died last Tuesday, Dec. 1, and the Lincs’ organization sends their sympathy to his wife Gail and the Nairn family.

Jack Nairn played a total of three seasons for the Lincolns. He was a member of a dangerous trio that included linemates Terry Crisp and Gerry Dubois. Crisp has fond memories playing with Nairn and Dubois those two seasons (1959-61) he was in St. Marys.

“When I came down from Parry Sound as a 16-year-old, two of the first people I hooked up with were Jackie Nairn and Doug Galloway,” Crisp recalled. “We became friends and ran in the same group with guys like Leonard Hawkins. It became a lasting friendship, and some of our most fun was away from the rink.

“In my two years in St. Marys, I was pretty lucky. I had Gerry Dubois, a big body with soft hands, and Jackie on my other wing. He was one of those guys who came to play every night; he was intense. Every game, you knew what you were going to get from him. I was the guy who said, ‘I’ll get loose boys, just give me the puck,” Crisp added with a laugh.

Nairn then spent the next season (1961-62) with the Niagara Falls Jr. ‘A’ Flyers, playing with teammates such as Crisp, Jean-Paul Parise and Gary Dornhoefer. Nairn returned to St. Marys as a 20-year-old and was a key member of the Lincs’ first All-Ontario championship team in 1962-63.

Nairn then played three years of professional hockey in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) with Greensboro Generals, based in North Carolina. In 229 games with Greensboro, he picked up 243 points.

The RR1 St. Marys resident and mink rancher was also a player-coach with Lucan-Ilderton Jets (Intermediate and Senior hockey) for several years. He guided the Jets to All-Ontario titles in Intermediate, Senior ‘B’ and Senior ‘A’.

Nairn also coached in the St. Marys minor system, winning a provincial championship in Bantam, and was a head coach of several Junior hockey teams in the area as well. They included the Stratford Cullitons, Exeter Hawks, Mitchell Hawks and London Diamonds. As a coach, he won three Sutherland Cups with the Cullitons–including back-to-back titles in the late 1970s.

“Jackie always had a smile on his face, always in good humour,” Crisp added. “When you needed help doing something, he’d be there. You didn’t have to ask him twice. But he was one of those guys who just enjoyed the game of hockey, both playing and coaching.”

–The rights to Mason Mantzavrakos, who led the Lincolns in scoring last season, have been traded to the Red Lake Miners, a Provincial Tier II Jr. ‘A’ team in northern Ontario. Red Lake is about 150 kilometres from Dryden.

After a tryout with Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Jr. ‘A’ League in August, Mantzavraokos joined Pembroke Lumber Kings, a Provincial Tier II Jr. ‘A’ team. Pembroke recently sent the 18-year-old winger back to the Lincolns. Lincs then dealt the Londoner to the Miners for “cash considerations,” says Director of Hockey Operations/GM Greg Smale.

Mantzavrakos had 21 goals and 52 points in 45 games with St. Marys a year ago.

–Players in the 62-team Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) may start playing regular-season games as soon as Feb. 1, 2021. The Jr. ‘C’ league selected that date at a board of governors meeting Nov. 25.

In a press release, PJHL’s commissioner Terry Whiteside said the date will be confirmed once all of the public health units in the league’s regions give permission for the teams to play.