by Bob Morrisey of the Gazette….
Despite several cases of the flu and nagging little strains. almost all members of Les Quebecois attended yesterday’s final practice before they make history tonight, when they play the Toronto Tomahawks in the professional National Lacrosse League’s first game ever. Only Rick Bossely, with a 102 degree fever. and goaltender Dave Wedlock, with a temperature of 100, skipped the 1 1/2 hour workout at the Forum where they’ll debut tonight before some 10.000 or so fans. But both players should be okay by then.
Wedlock will back up goalie Ernie Mitchell and Bossely will perform on a line with Wayne Sutherland, John Davis, Gord Ozinchuk, and Dave Tasker. The second line will consist of Gord Floyd, Rob McCarthy, Dave Litzenburger, Jim Lynch, and Dale McKenzie, while the third line will be made up of Ron Liscombe, Bill Sheehan, Bill Langley, Guy Cody and Serge Loiselle from Valleyfield.
George “Pidgie” Norton from Caughnawaga and Montrealer Michel Blanchard are the reserves, giving coach Bill Bradley 19 players dressed in all. The only regular who won’t dress is Brandon Rowe-Sleeman, out with an injured knee. After yesterday’s workout, which followed a meet-the-players ceremony at the Place Ville Marie at noon, the team returned to it’s Belvedere Motel headquarters and Bradley described the atmosphere there as “like the lull before the storm.”
A doctor spent 3 1/2 hours at the motel examining some seven “flu smitten” players Monday night and put them all on prescription drugs. Bradley, however, says they’ll all be ready tonight, runny noses and all. Bradley also said Tasker will play despite an abscessed tooth that has puffed out his cheek and given him a sore throat, and Davis will paly despite a hamstring injury that has kept him from practicing the last week. Davis suffered the in jury about a week and a half ago, said Bradley, “but came back too soon.” Tonight is the first time he really tests it.
Davis is the key man on Les Quebecois, the player they drafted #1 and made their captain. Bradley said that’s he that good: “All through his career, they’ve doubled up on him and he’s taken a tremendous pounding.”, “but even that hasn’t stopped him,” said the coach. “He’s good enough to go around two players and when he doesn’t, he can hold onto the ball and make the play to the open man. He does it so well that sometimes a team doesn’t dare double team him.”
Bradley has no misgivings about his offense – but admits his defense is an unknown quanity. “That’s the only thing Im worried about,” Bill said, adding: “Checking is the hardest part of the game. After they shoot, they’ve got to react and get back. I think they will, because they know me. There’s no such thing as a one-way player on my team and I’ll be there to remind them.”
The Tomahawks come into the Forum after winning five of six exhibition games, averaging 17 goals a game. Their only loss was to the Philadelphia Wings, 19-16, giving them a split in their two pre-season games. The Tomahawks’ leader, Chuck Li, their #1 draft choice from Cornwall, is doubtful tonight with a shoulder separation. “He’s one of the headiest players in lacrosse,” said coach and general manager Jim Bishop, who has the distinction of coaching seven consecutive Minto Cup junior championship teams. “He’s not that big a goal scorer, but he’s a great playmaker. He’s pretty tough with his fists too.”
Bishop didn’t want to commit himself, but said Ron Thomas, the third goalie the Tomahawks picked in the draft, would probably start tonight. Thomas, an Indian from the Six Nations Reserve at Oshweken, Ont., has impressed Bishop with both his talent and attitude. “He’s been commuting 180 miles round-trip a day to practice,” says Bishop of Thomas, who works in the Federal Governnment’s Indian Affairs Department.
Les Quebecois Guy Cody feels tonight’s game could be decided in the latter stages. “They (Tornto) might be fast, but we have the checkers. we’ll be hitting them and I think we’re in such good condition, we’ll be able to wear them down.” Then Cody added with a smile, “I can’t imagine any team in better shape than we are.”