‘We lost the games, but we won the fights’

Susan Flanagan
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Remembering the 1975 Allan Cup series

The Allan Cup: Since 1909 the Allan Cup, named after Montreal businessman Sir Montagu Allan, has been awarded annually to the winning Canadian senior amateur men’s ice hockey team.

The 1975 St. John’s Caps vied for the Allan Cup on home ice. — Submitted photo

Newfoundland and Labrador has won the Allan Cup twice — once when the Corner Brook Royals won the Cup against the Nelson Maple Leafs in Nelson, B.C. in 1986 and again in 2011 when the Clarenville Caribous beat the Bentley Generals in Kenora, Ont.

Note: The Herder Cup is the trophy awarded annually to the winning senior men’s hockey team in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Who remembers the Allan Cup hockey series in April 1975?

Let me refresh your memory.  

St. John’s Caps vs Barrie Flyers at Memorial Stadium in St. John’s

“For us to play Barrie that year we had to beat the other Atlantic Canadian teams,” says Hubert Hutton, who had already been playing senior hockey with the Caps 18 years by the time 1975 rolled around.

“It was good hockey; fast,” remembers Erik Seaward, who was only 19 and not long out of high school when he got picked up by the St. John’s Caps.

“PWC had just won the high school championship and we had also just won the Herder,” says Seaward who registered at MUN with a hockey scholarship and played five years with the Memorial University (varsity, yes MUN had a hockey team back in the day) Beothucks.

Seaward’s first and only Allan Cup against the Barrie Flyers turned out to be a memorable one.

(Although Seaward continued to play with the Caps through university, because of exams he didn’t travel with the team outside the province).

“It was all built up in media before the series ever started,” he says. “The newspapers on the mainland said they’d come and walk all over us.”

“We held our own. They didn’t run us out of the rink by any means,” says Hutton.

Back in those days the Barrie Flyers had half a dozen players from the NHL.

“Back in 1975 they (had fewer) NHL teams so if players didn’t make it, they moved back to the Allan Cup (senior men’s hockey),” explains Hutton. “And they got paid and we didn’t.”

“(The Caps) had just won the Herder and we would have been tired,” says Hutton, adding that the Caps won four Herder trophies in a row from 1973-1976 and after that the dominant team was split in two to form the St. John’s Blue Caps and the St. John’s Mike’s Shamrocks.

To advance to the final round of the Allan Cup one team had to win three out of five games.

St. John’s has always been a hockey city, but to say the fans were excited by the Allan Cup in April of 1975 would be an understatement.

“The fans (at the Stadium) were hanging out of the rafters,” says Hutton. “They were four deep above the gondola where the music played. And back then people smoked. You could cut the air with the smoke.”

“They were lined up back to Kenna’s Hill to get tickets to the Allan Cup that year. In the first game, Jack Smith, the Barrie Flyers’ tough man, hit me and gave me a bloody nose,” says Seaward, adding that he wasn’t a fighter.

“After that the coach put our heavy hitters on the ice.”

“Bobby Lambert (whose nickname was Knobby) was a tough guy. In one of the early games in the series, Lambert got cross-checked from behind and knocked out cold. As his face and head hit the ice, he was carried from the ice and didn’t return to that game,” says Seaward.

Lambert didn’t appear on the ice for the warmup for the following game.

“They played the anthem and out walked Bobby Lambert. No one knew he was going to play,” says Seaward.

The fans gave him a standing ovation of three or four minutes. The officials had trouble calming the crowd in order to begin the play.

“When Knobby unexpectedly made his way back onto the ice, after being knocked out by a dirty hit the game prior, the hometown crowd erupted,” says fan Steve Marshall, who was 14 at the time.

“If there was a Jumbotron in those days the perfect scene to play on it then would have been Sheriff Brody telling the Captain in the ‘Jaws’ movie ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat.’”

“Knobby knew how to hit on the ice,” says Hutton. “It was an art. He hit with both hands. Right away he laid out two guys — kaplunk. You gotta remember this was just one or two strides down from NHL hockey,” says Hutton, who had 195 pounds on his 5’-9” frame. “I was chunky and could take a knock.”

“Bobby hit mainly with his left hand which took people by surprise,” says Seaward. “After that, the newspapers in Ottawa made us out to be barbarians.”

Barrie won the first two games, but St. John’s won the third by forfeit when the Barrie coach refused to finish the game.

“There was a bench-clearing brawl near the end of the first period (of the third game),” remembers Seaward. “The Flyers refused to take to the ice and the game was forfeited to the Caps.”

That decision by the Flyers coach led to his suspension.

Plus The Flyers refused to play any more games unless outside officials were brought in. They had to apply to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to bring in officials from Quebec and as a result the next game was one day late.

Early in the first period of Game 4, Seaward, who stood a little over 5’-7” but played a physically rough game, took a hit to the eye with a high stick.

After several minutes lying on the ice, a doctor was called from the crowd and after examining Seaward, had him transported out of the Stadium on a stretcher.

An ambulance took him to

St. Clare’s hospital, where doctors told him he was hemorrhaging from the eye.

In the meantime his mother was home listening to the game on the radio when she heard George McLaren say, “Seaward’s been injured.”

She was worried sick until someone called later to tell her the extent of the injury. Seaward missed the rest of the final game which Barrie won to take the series.

He had to wear an eye patch for six days. Luckily his eyesight returned.

“The Barrie Flyers limped home with a win,” says Hutton. “We lost the games, but we won the fights.”

The Barrie Flyers lost to The Thunder Bay Twins in the Allan Cup final that year.

Bobby (Knobby) Lambert now lives in Halifax. He gave up hockey to sing and play guitar. He has just released a new Jimmy Buffet-inspired CD called “A Taste of Salt.”

Hubert Hutton still plays hockey and is publisher of Atlantic Business Magazine.

Erik Seaward just retired from the provincial government and although he no longer plays hockey, he enjoys teaching his granddaughter to skate. In the summer you might catch up with him landscaping Admiral’s Green golf course in Pippy Park.

Steve Marshall is still a big fan of hockey. He is a partner at the law firm Roebothan, McKay and Marshall in St. John’s.

Members of the 1975 St. John’s Caps:

Goalie Pat Dempsey

Goalie Tols Chapman

Bob Lambert

Erik Seaward

Hubert Hutton

Dick Hancock

Don Quinn

Dan Noftall

Randy Pearcey

Greg Pearcey

George Faulkner

Ed James

Ed Kent

Glen Critch

Jim Heale

Charlie Babstock

Rick Babstock

Dave Power

Jerry Power

Jack Gibson

Paul Newman

Sandy Gibbons

Brian Mulcahy

Nigel Facey

Max Hayes

John McCallum

Coach Bob Badcock

General Manager Terry Trainor

Trainers Bill Clarke and Dave McNiven

Members of the 1975 Barrie Flyers

Playing Coach Darryl (Slip) Sly (former NHL player, Vancouver, Toronto and Minnesota, won silver medal with Canada in 1960 Olympics)

Steve Sly

Paul Regan

Phil Branston

Bob Baird

Corby Adams, scored majority of goals for the Flyers

Grant Moore

Bob Monteith

Jim Thompson

Jack Smith

Gerry Raycroft

Ken Napton

Grant Cole

Dale Dolmage

Al Rochon

Bill Abbott

Ron Robinson

Don Pagnutti

Kent Runtke

Ron Patterson

Trainer Graham Rayton

Doug Flear

Susan Flanagan can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca

Marilou and The Big Snow feedback:

Krista Burke writes: “My grandmother is Gerry Burke. ... She was an amazing lady and this is just one of things I didn’t know about her that makes her even more amazing.”

Organizations: NHL, Nelson Maple Leafs, Flyers Canadian Amateur Hockey Association Atlantic Business Magazine.Erik Seaward Roebothan

Geographic location: Barrie, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nelson Kenora Memorial Stadium Ottawa Quebec Halifax Vancouver Toronto Minnesota Canada

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Recent comments

  • Bob Monteith
    March 19, 2014 - 09:22

    Hi Susan...This an interesting slant to the story! I would think that getting some information from the Flyers may really give you the truth. I would like to know "knobby's" comment about the beating he took from Ken Knapton! He did not look so tough after that! The Caps were a good hockey team and if they had stuck to hockey it might have been a different result!

    • Zac
      March 17, 2015 - 18:45

      I have heard lots of different stories about these games, and have never heard about "Knobby" taking a beating. I have heard how he was hit from behind by a cheap shot and was unconscious before his face hit the ice! Since reading your comment last week I have asked a few people who were part of the team and also fans that watched the games to give their opinions on this event and none have given your opinion on the event. Just a curious Mr. Monteith what was Mr. Lamberts response when you questioned where he was during the big fight? I would love to get some information from the Flyers because I hear the stories from the people who played and watched from the stands. thanks

    • Me
      April 17, 2016 - 06:58

      Give your side of the story. Most of our guys are still around and can agree, or not. I didn't see the game but everybody knows about the cheap shot on Lambert. Did you think the boys would sit back and do nothing?

  • Terry Hearty
    February 25, 2014 - 14:46

    Great article Susan, brings back some good memories.

  • Kevin
    February 25, 2014 - 13:24

    Wow, something to be proud of, " We lost the games but won the fights", too bad it was hockey and not wrestling or boxing, might have meant something

  • Mike
    February 25, 2014 - 12:30

    The Goalie in the picture on the left is actually Fred Burke.

  • Bring Back The Caps
    February 25, 2014 - 11:36

    What a great story. A movie should be made about this. I would pay to see it.

  • SayWhat
    February 25, 2014 - 09:45

    Attention; Robin Short, Brendan McCarthy and John Browne. Please tell this writer its the Herder Memorial Trophy not the Herder Cup.

    • Rose Marie Mondor
      March 20, 2014 - 19:26

      Can anyone email me a photo of Glen Critch who played in the Herder Memorial Trophy game in 1975? Thanks much.