Vernon Tigers, from left, Graydon Brown, Marty Stein, Terry Mosdell and Dale Rintoul display their championship rings at the Vernon Golf & Country Club.

B.C. lacrosse legends celebrate Canadian titles, life after crash

Vernon Senior B lacrosse team survived a 1976 plane crash after victory in Winnipeg

Vernon, B.C. — Like at most reunions, the Vernon Tigers swapped stories, caught up with how the family was and snapped photos with joy.

The big difference with this weekend gathering was that many players from the three-time national Senior B lacrosse team were feeling extremely grateful to be alive.

The Tigers marked the 40th anniversary of their third-straight President’s Cup, but the bigger story was how the 1976 group survived a plane crash into a farmer’s field near Pincher Creek, Alta. Sept. 8 on the way home from Winnipeg.

RELATED: Legendary Vernon lacrosse team reunion will recount titles, terror

Barry Lapointe, the Kelowna Flightcraft pilot who pulled off an emergency crash-landing of a DC-3, saving all 26 passengers on the plane, received the most hugs and handshakes at the reunion, which attracted 62 players, wives and team staff.

“There were some rumours somebody was smoking in the washroom, but Barry said in his speech that a heater had overloaded and there was lots of smoke,” said Marty Stein, who organized the reunion and had taken an earlier flight home. “(Jeff Shirley) Spook told Barry there was smoke coming out of the washroom and he got all the players to the back of the plane. Alice Rintoul (Tiger Dale Rintoul’s wife) maybe said it best when she said ‘If it weren’t for this man (Lapointe), there would be no kids or grandkids for a lot of us.”

Stein said Lapointe also cleared up just exactly where the plane, jazzed up with lounges, couches and poker tables, originated.

“It was an old plane and Barry said it was the only type that could have landed like that. Some guys thought it was Frank Sinatra’s plane or Bing Crosby’s, but it actually was Conrad Hilton’s.”

Stein said captain Jamie McKenzie, a licensed pilot who joined team GM Wolfgang Gachter in calming the player and taking charge of the evacuation, also spoke Saturday night at the Vernon Golf & Country Club.

“Jamie talked about how inspiring our team was and he talked about things a lot of us had forgotten. He spoke for about 20 minutes and was just awesome.”

A total of 21 Tigers purchased commemorative rings marking all three Canadian victories, the other two coming in Edmonton and Vernon.

“Our president Art Horsley did an incredible job for us,” said Stein. “We, as athletes, we never knew what was going in with fundraising and behind-the-scenes stuff. “Danny Holte and Rick (Horsley) bought Art a ring and he was so happy. That was a touching moment.”

Stein said coverage of the plane crash in last Friday’s Morning Star was a history lesson for the younger Vernon generation.

“I talked to a lot of oldtimers and they, of course, remembered the story, but some of the guys’ kids hadn’t heard much about it. It was a big story at the time and is a big part of Vernon’s sports history.”

There were five groups golfing Saturday and Stein said there were no aces or stellar scores, “just a lot of laughs and chuckles.”

Added Stein: “It was 40 years since our ‘78 team but it was like someone pressed pause and we just kept talking.”

Stein plans to lobby the City of Vernon to raise a banner honouring the Tigers at Kal Tire Place.

RELATED: Civic Arena to be demolished


@VernonNews
sports@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Gary Gilchrist of the Vernon Tigers, middle, draws some laughs from teammates Marty Stein, left, and Doug Hengel as they get ready to play a round of golf Saturday during their reunion. (Toby Frederiksen/Morning Star)

Marty Stein of the Vernon Tigers swings away as the three-time senior lacrosse team teed off in a 40-year reunion gathering Saturday. (Tobias Frederiksen/Morning Star)

Just Posted

Suspected spill kills hundreds of crayfish, coho in Langley river

A fish kill in the Nicomekl has a biologist concerned for the health of the local ecosystem.

Rams harvest sweet victory in win over Huskers

The Chilliwack team found itself pushed back again and again.

WATCH: Cops for Cancer bring message of hope to Langley school

Young cancer survivors are traveling with the fundraising bike ride.

Driver of pickup stolen from Langley crashes into car in Abbotsford

No serious injuries in collision on Monday night

VIDEO: Fort Langley paying homage to Vaughan

Russell Marsland and Lovestruck bring a tribute concert to the Chief Sepass Theatre on Saturday.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Aldergrove soccer forward enjoys scoring spree

UFV Cascades’ Jhaj named Canada West second star of the week

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by B.C. animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for shelter and local municipal election

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Lower Mainland city calls for slower trains near popular beach

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Most Read