The Nanaimo Timbermen have some idea about how hard it is to win a Mann Cup, but really, they can only guess. There’s only one Nanaimo team that truly knows what it takes: the 1956 Timbermen, Mann Cup champions, who continue to inspire, 60 years later.
The city’s senior A lacrosse team will honour its history this Saturday (June 25) at a game against the New Westminster Salmonbellies at Frank Crane Arena. Members of the 1956 team will be recognized at the game, and the T-men will wear 1956 replica jerseys.
“It’s to recognize those people that are still here that pioneered senior A lacrosse in Nanaimo,” said Chris Bowman, Timbermen president.
Cody Bremner, Timbermen alternate captain, said his team recognizes how hard it is to win.
“We haven’t won too many games ourselves … so you’ve got to respect the fact that they won the Mann Cup and how hard it is to get there,” he said.
Doug Langlois, another alternate captain, said there seems to be a “bit of a buzz” surrounding Saturday’s vintage night.
“The jerseys are looking nice, we’re excited to have a couple of the guys from that team here to show them what we’ve got,” he said. “Everyone’s excited, we’re ready to play and hopefully put on a good performance and win the game.”
The Timbermen might also win the best-dressed award. The Salmonbellies agreed to wear their own vintage giant-fish jerseys, and Colton Clark, a former New West player, prefers the yellow-and-green Nanaimo look.
“Those are actually awesome jerseys, the Nanaimo ones,” he said. “The ones with the big fish on the front, I wasn’t really a big fan of those. I think ours are way better so we should win that fashion contest for sure.”
It will be a meaningful night for Clark, who is from Nanaimo – his grandfather was a board member of the 1956 Timbermen, plus he’s taking on his old team.
“It gets me fired up,” he said. “I love playing teams I used to play for. I always seem to play a lot better against them.”
Nanaimo beat New West 14-10 in overtime in the previous meeting this season at Queen’s Park Arena, and though the ’Bellies have added some players, so have the T-men.
“We had a really good game there that game and I think if we bring that effort and intensity, we should be pretty good this weekend,” Bremner said.
Saturday’s game falls in the midst of a busy, important stretch of three games in five days for the Timbermen.
“We’re steadily improving and this is going to be a big week for us to test ourselves and hopefully we come up to the challenge,” Langlois said.
Bremner said with the standings so tight, the T-men know that a successful week lifts them into a playoff position in the standings.
“We’re learning how to win on the fly here,” he said. “It just comes down to consistent effort. If we put the effort in, we can play with anybody and we can get some wins.”
So it will be a motivated Timbermen team that takes the floor, and on a night of champions, it will be an inspired team, too.
“It’s a pretty hard trophy to win and we’ve only been able to pull it off once,” Bowman said. “So touch wood, in the next few years we can bring another one back.”
GAME ON … The Timbermen and Salmonbellies face off at 6 p.m. Saturday (June 25) at Frank Crane Arena. There will be a pre-game ceremony honouring the 1956 Timbermen and featuring three members of that team: Don Ashbee, Donn Sherry and Joe White. Jim Robson, who broadcasted the 1956 Mann Cup, will also be attending Saturday’s game. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, available at the door. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult get in free. A tailgate party will start at 4 p.m. outside the arena. The Salvation Army will host a fundraiser barbecue.