Down Memory Lane - Garnie Carter
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
It was an improbable scenario - a star athlete crippled in a shooting mishap who, for years later, sheds obscurity to backstop his mates to a Canadian championship.
A fantasy script concocted by a Hollywood dream spinner?
No….the unlikely tale of courage occurred in New Westminster in early October, 1947, when a 27-year-old lad named Garnie Carter was injected into the Adanacs' lacrosse goal hours before the first Mann Cup game was to be played.
But, in addition to his crippled foot, Garnie had tended goal just 1 ½ games - a mere 90 minutes under game conditions. Could he prevail? Was the question.
Born September 7, 1920, Garnie was not yet 18 when he broke into the New Westminster Adanacs' 1938 lineup. The Yellow Jackets lost the Mann Cup that season but came back strong the following year to capture the national title.
Garnie played one more season before joining the armed services at the tender age of 21, eventually attaining the rank of flight lieutenant in the RCAF. In 82 senior games, he had accumulated 220 points.
Posted to the West Coast in 1943, Garnie played two games with the Army lacrosse team, picking up 10 points and an invitation to join the Salmonbellies in the Mann Cup playoffs: but the weekend before the first game, Garnie was getting ready for a hunting trip with his dad when his gun accidentally discharged, shattering his right foot.
Always a forward or rover, Garnie could no longer run, his playing days effectively dead.
Or were they?
Fast forward four years - Adanacs were a powerhouse, winning 17 of 24 league games and another six playoff matches over Burrards and Rossland to qualify for another Mann Cup try.
Teams in those days normally carried only one netminder, utilizing anyone they could find if their regular goalie was injured. So, when goalie Gordie Pogue was injured may 10, Garnie was pressed into service for half a game and a full game May 15. After al, he couldn't run a lick but his coordination was still first-class.
Then, during a team practice less than 24 hours before the first Mann Cup game October 2, Pogue was struck in the throat, hospitalizing him with a partially paralyzed larynx.
The call went out for Garnie.
With his last game 41/2 months before, Garnie was understandably a little tentative when the series began in Queens Park Arena. His teammates were worried too - they abandoned their free-wheeling style and went into a defensive mode in the hopes of helping the novice netminder.
Carter saved only three of the first eight shots fired his way but, as the game progressed, the goaltending and the team's offence got stronger. Final score was 17-14 for the Royal City boys over their Ontario opponents, the Mimico Mountaineers.
Game Two at the Vancouver Forum saw Mimico score the first goal only to have Adanacs reply with three quick counters to take a lead they would not relinquish. Adanacs won 13-9.
Back in queens Park for the third and what was to be the final game saw Adanacs jump to a 5-0 lead in the first 12 minutes and eventually coast to an 18-9 victory.
Mimico netminder Ray Mortimore was astounded when told that Carter had seen action in only 1 1/2 games prior to the Mann cup series.
"If he can do that with just one full game under his belt, what would he be like if he had played through the season?" wondered Mortimore.
Adanac captain Bob Lee accepted the Mann Cup on behalf of his team and was then named the Mike Kelly Medal recipient as the series MVP.