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

Snowfall warning for Trans Canada Highway

Between 15 cm to 20 cm is expected

Highway conditions for Revelstoke

Compact snow and slippery sections on Trans Canada and Highway 23

No one in Revelstoke should face dementia alone

More than 66,000 people struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia in B.C.

Sagmoen denied bail

Bail for Curtis Wayne Sagmoen was denied, to uproarious applause by rally supporters.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

B.C. teacher suspended 5 days for touching colleague’s buttocks

Lancer Kevin Price of Chilliwack has handed the retroactive suspension for 2017 incidents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Black Panther claw, Power Rangers blade among 2018’s ‘worst toys,’ safety group says

The World Against Toys Causing Harm organized announced its 46th annual list in Boston on Tuesday

Investigation underway into reported sexual assault at B.C. naval base

An Oct. 5 allegation is being investigated by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

UBC Okanagan offers its expertise to struggling parents

Pilot walk-in clinic open to the public

VIDEO: Carport fire sets Kelowna apartment building aflame

Kelowna firefighters were called to the 1900 block of Pandosy Street about 4 a.m.

Man accused of smuggling drugs across Osoyoos border still waiting for arraignment

Armando Esparza-Ochoa was charged on Sept. 1 for importing/exporting a controlled substance

Gear worth thousands stolen from Merritt search and rescue team

Thieves broke into a storage facility twice in two days to steal gear

Most Read