Friday, June 24, 2016

1978 Lewis Cup Finals

The 1978 Lewis Cup Finals would pit back-to-back champions, the LA Wizards, against the upstart Pittsburgh Stingers. Although LA was favoured to win the series, nobody was completely willing to count the Stingers out. Game one would yield a surprising result. Danny Stevenson scored twice, while Gary Bowen made 45 saves including a brilliant stop on Gilbert Giroux that would’ve tied the game in the second period as Pittsburgh took the game 3-1. The Wizards knew they had to step it up in game 2. Holly opened the scoring before Giroux scored to make it 2-0. Just minutes into the third, Stevenson and Nate Carroll each scored to tie the game. Pittsburgh nearly scored again in the third but Dennis Carter made two brilliant saves to preserve the tie and send the game to overtime. In OT, Sheldon Hopkins proved to be the hero, beating Gary Bowen to give LA a 3-2 victory to tie the series. Game three would not be quite so close, as the Wizards never let the Stingers into the game in a 3-0 shutout. LA appeared to be in control. 

Game four would be another close affair, tied 2-2 again after two periods. This time it would not reach overtime, as Ray Fowler delivered the winner before Roy Priest sealed it with the empty-netter. LA was one win away from a third consecutive title. Back home for game five, the Wizards struggled to find the net through the first period while Dennis Carter answered every Pittsburgh challenge. Finally, the Wizards broke through late in the second, as Fowler scored on a breakaway. Before the Stingers could even begin their late push to tie the game, defenseman Dawson Robb’s point shot found the back of the Pittsburgh net. Dennis Carter responded to a late push from Pittsburgh with a series of big saves as the Wizards hung on to the shutout until the buzzer finally sounded. The LA Wizards were Lewis Cup Champions for the third straight season, the first team to win three in a row since the Quebec Nationale of the early 60s. With another big performance throughout the season and playoffs, Stuart Holly was quickly cementing his status as the best player in the game, while the Holly/Fowler pairing was being called the greatest duo in sports. Gilbert Giroux, who won four cups with Quebec in the ‘60s, had now won more titles than any player in history. After less than a decade in the league, the Wizards were now a true dynasty.

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