Team – Lacrosse
Photo Credit: Christine Small
Building upon the championship traditions of the Garrard Road Lacrosse Association and the Whitby Minor Lacrosse Association in the early 1970s, the Whitby franchise joined the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) Junior A league in 1975. This Whitby team was known by various nicknames over its first few OLA seasons, eventually becoming the Warriors at the beginning of the 1984 campaign. And it was in that same year that the Whitby Warriors won the Minto Cup, emblematic of Canadian Jr A lacrosse supremacy.
The 1984 Warriors enjoyed an exceptional regular season, finishing atop the 7-team Ontario league with a record of 22 wins against just two losses. The team scored a remarkable total of 421 goals in its 24 games, an average of 17.5 goals per game or one goal for every 3.4 minutes of playing time. The team had five players within the Top 10 in league scoring and two players named to the First All-Star Team (goaltender and forward); in addition, all three forward positions on the Second All-Star Team were awarded to members of the Warriors.
The team continued its dominance throughout the OLA playoff series. Led by coaches Peter Vipond and Elmer Tran and general manager Al Garrard, the Warriors recorded 12 wins in 13 games. They swept their opponents in the first two playoff rounds, eliminating Elora in four games in the quarterfinals and dispatching Brampton in four games in the semifinals.
The Warriors then advanced to meet second-place Peterborough for the league title; despite Peterborough having a strong regular season record of 21 wins versus three losses, Whitby captured the OLA title in convincing fashion, winning the series four games to one. In their total of 13 OLA playoff games, Whitby’s powerhouse offence was on full display, as the team scored 238 goals, an average of 18.3 per game, which in turn topped its regular season pace.
The Warriors went on to compete for the Minto Cup as the Ontario representative. In 1984, the Canadian championship would be decided by a one-game, winner-take-all contest. After a round-robin series with two teams from British Columbia (New Westminster and Esquimalt), Whitby advanced to the final against New Westminster. The title game was played on the B.C team’s home floor, with the Warriors emerging victorious by a score of 16-8. Whitby’s leading scorer, Joe Nieuwendyk, was named the Minto Cup most valuable player.
This was the second Whitby team to win a Minto Cup championship, coming four years after the title won by the Whitby CBC Builders in 1980. That CBC Builders team was inducted into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame in 2006; four players on the 1980 team (Gary Crawford, Bill Eyre, John Fusco, and Eric Perroni) were also members of the 1984 Whitby Warriors.