In our next visit with a Hero of Lacrosse, we speak with a player regarded by many as one of the most pure goal scorers the game has ever seen; the Victoria Shamrocks Kevin Alexander.
I unfortunately, never got to see Kevin play, but in looking at his career scoring statistics, I was amazed at the numbers he amassed. Kevin was a fierce competitor and wanted to win. Notice his response to my question about going back and changing one game if he could (he would change them all until his team won).
I asked my friend, and regular contributor here Derek Keenan for a few words on his former Buffalo Bandit team mate and Derek obliged:
Without question, the most gifted and talented finisher I have ever seen play the game of lacrosse. He had the ability to make really good goalies look awfully foolish and ordinary. He was an extremely smart player who had the ability to adapt well to different game situations. He also had the ability to adapt well and change his game as he aged. He was not a big guy but deceptively strong and quick. Later in his career he turned himself into an excellent face-off man in the indoor game and the field game.
As an 18 year old I was a “pick-up” for Peterborough at the 1979 Mann Cup against Victoria. Kevin played for Victoria. He scored a goal on a power play that I had never seen before and don’t think I’ve seen since. From the right shooter spot he threw a back hander to the far, lower left corner of the net and it was no fluke. You could certainly tell that he placed that shot exactly where he wanted it to go.
Victoria Shamrock, Buffalo Bandit, and member of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame; Kevin Alexander.
Enjoy the read…
GM: At what age did you begin playing lacrosse and what got you involved?
KA: I started playing organized lacrosse at 5 years old. My older brothers played, so I played too.
GM: Who were some of the players you remember idolizing as a youngster?
KA: Mostly Shamrocks Bill Munro, Ron Jay, Ranjit & Nirmal Dillon.
GM: In your first three years of Junior A lacrosse, you were the Rookie of the Year, Scoring Champion (all three years), a first team All-Star, you won a Minto Cup (1976) as well as the Minto Cup MVP. Recall if you can your time in Junior with Esquimalt.
KA: We had a great bunch of players with an outstanding organization in Jr. “A” in Victoria. We had the best coaching (Bill Munro) & manager (Bob Reid). As with every successful team, there were no egos & everyone knew their role. We knew each other very well. We lost the B.C.’s in 7 games in ’75, & won in 7 games in ’76. That brings people together pretty tightly. After that, the Minto Cup was inevitable. It was Victoria’s first since 1962.
GM: Who were some players you played with on those teams?
KA: There were some great players on those teams, like Bob Cool, Jim Boyd, Doug Angrove, Ken King, Dave Lowdon, some not “household” lacrosse names, but spectacular role players.
GM: You excelled in Field Lacrosse as well as Box Lacrosse. Did you prefer one game over the other?
KA: I can’t say I really preferred one game over the other. It almost seemed like whichever one I was playing at the time was my favorite.
GM: Describe the honor of being named best midfielder in the 1986 World Field Lacrosse Championships.
KA: That was special. I have won many awards in lacrosse, & that one surprised me the most. Again I was playing with some great players so I was able to look good on the field.
GM: In your Senior Box Lacrosse career you won two Mann Cups (1979, 1983) and I thought I had read you were the MVP in 1979 as well. Can you tell us about those Championships?
KA: I was on the ’79 & ’83 winning teams, but I did not win the MVP in ’79. That honor went to a well deserved Ivan Thompson. Quite honestly that is the only award in lacrosse that I never did win, that, (looking back) I would like to have. I probably had a chance in ’84 in “The Boro” (Peterborough, Ontario) but that year it was won by my good friend, sometimes teammate & great lacrosse player, John Grant (he didn’t need the “Sr” then). Anyways the ’79 win was very big for Victoria, it had been a long time (1957) since they had won the Mann Cup, and so it was special to be part of. There were also a few players who had been around for a long time, including the “lean years”, so it was a nice way to send them out.
1983 (as was ’79) was another very talented group of players. Bob Cool, Jim Lynch John Crowther (MVP) and Mac Maude to name a few. Both years we played very good teams from “The Boro” making special friends along the way. They finally got us back in ’84. Damn!
GM: What lacrosse accomplishment would you say you are most proud of?
KA: I don’t think I can really pick out just one single thing. I always tell people that I was the only person (kid) who was the WLA Shamrock water boy at 13, and played a game the next year when I was 14. I was also proud to play 5 games the next year when I was 15, and averaged 3 goals per game. That was fun. I think I also still have a few records (that Gaiter’s let me keep) that I was proud of. A couple of them are, the fastest 3 goals in the WLA (13 seconds) most consecutive games scoring a goal, I think that was about 42. Also looking back, my lifetime Jr. A 7 points per game average is kind of neat too. Like all records, they are as much my teammates as mine. They might all be broken now, I really don’t know. Representing Canada for 12 years was special too.
GM: You also played in Buffalo for the Bandits, winning two indoor Championships. Describe your time in Buffalo.
KA: Absolutely fantastic! The 2 years in Buffalo were as much fun as any. I think because Johnny Mouridian assembled such a great team, it was fun to just be part of it. I was one of the oldest guys in the league, but the travel worked out fairly well (only missed 2 flights) and I got to play with superstars like Derek Keenan, Darris Kilgour, & John Tavares, in front of 16,325 fans every home game. Hard to beat.
GM: Many of our past interviews have included you in their list of the best shooters they have ever seen. What do you feel you did to make you so good?
KA: A lot of practice combined with a very good understanding of the game, and an extreme desire to win. I had lots of confidence, good teammates, and could hit pretty much any spot I aimed at, with any shot.
GM: You’ve coached a little in the NLL, most recently with Calgary in 2006. Would you like to get back into Coaching?
KA: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Actually since 1994 the CLA has banned me for “life” from coaching or any other aspect of the Canadian game. The CLA says I owe them about $3500 from our trip to England in 1994. I disagree. It’s too bad because obviously I could do a lot to help our great game, at many levels, but they want to keep me out. So if I coach or, whatever, it would be in the NLL, or somewhere else, but it looks like not in the CLA.
GM: What do you think of the Box lacrosse game that is played today?
KA: The game today is good. The players are “bigger, stronger, and faster”. As with most “modern” day sports there is usually too much individualism (selfishness). Many players put themselves before the team (this always has disastrous results). I can’t say much bad about the “offence defense” style of play, as we always did that at “crunch” time, but it should never be used in the minor systems. Too many young players are becoming one dimensional.
GM: In 1991 you were entered into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. What were your thoughts joining so many other greats in the exclusive list?
KA: That was pretty neat too. I was told I was the youngest living player inductee in history, so I thought that was ok. To be there with so many all time great lacrosse players is a very special thing.
GM: Who do you feel was the best player and goalie you ever played with, and against?
KA: Best player with would have to be Gary Gait, but super humans don’t count so either Ivan Thompson or Bob Cool.
Best player against – Geordie Dean, he could do it all.
Best goalie with and against – Larry Smeltzer, hands down. Damn I wish we had the big nets they have now when I was shooting on him!
GM: If you could play one more game, where would it be, and who would be playing?
KA: Where: Memorial Arena – Victoria or Peterborough.
Who: Victoria & Peterborough. (I’ve seen the conditioning of some of those guys now)
GM: Give us your all-time greats Power play.
KA: I’ll give you 2 & they can be inter mixed, but I have to play!
1. Derek Keenan, John Davis, John Tavares, Ivan Thompson.
2. Gaylord Powless, Ron McNeil, Paul Gait, Gary Gait, John Grant Sr.
GM: If you could go back and change the results of any lacrosse game,series, or Championship, would you, and which one would it be?
KA: Yes I would. In fact I would change them all until I my team won them all! If I only had one, it would be the 1986 World Championship game against the U.S. Those World Games always seemed to get away from us. I’m sure glad the guys did it last time around.
GM: What do you feel is the one thing lacrosse did for you, that you otherwise might not have done or experienced?
KA: It would probably be the amount of travel. I did a lot of travelling through lacrosse that I otherwise may not have. The other thing that always sticks out is the very special people who are involved in the game. People who are not only great lacrosse people, but just great people, most, friends for life. A good example is those “Boro” guys like John Grant, Bob & Jim Wasson to name a few. We fought to the death on the floor, but now we are just like brothers when we see each other.
There were others Stu Aird, Johnny Mouridian, Derek Keenan, and many U.S. guys, the list could go on forever because lacrosse is just full of great people.
GM: Kevin, this was great, thanks for your time.
KA: Thank You.