The 1980 Lewis Cup Finals would pit the California Nuggets against the Cinderella Washington Generals. This would be the Washington Franchise’s first appearance in the Lewis Cup since 1955, when they were still known as the Hamilton Kings. For California, this would be the Nuggets’ first Lewis Cup appearance in franchise history. Game one took place in San Francisco. The Generals never stood a chance in game one, losing decisively 5-1. California would also take game two 3-2. Heading to DC for game three, the Washington Generals knew they needed to win. The Nuggets took and early 2-0 lead, before Gerry Stokes scored twice to tie the game. After scoring again to take the lead, the Generals would suddenly find themselves in a tied game once again after Ken Gilbert tied the game, ultimately sending it to overtime. Halfway through the first overtime, Gerry Stokes scored to give Washington their first win of the series. Riding the momentum from the thrilling home win, the Generals managed another big win at home in game four. The series was now tied 2-2 heading to the Bay area once again for game five. The Nuggets were back on their game in game five. Alan Chadwick opened the scoring for California. Seconds later, Dennis Yates scored to make it 2-0. After Jeff Leroy put Washington on the board, California pulled away, scoring another two goals to take a 4-1 win. The Nuggets were now one win away from winning the Lewis Cup.
The Cup was in the building in Washington for game six as the Nuggets were looking to win their first Lewis Cup, while the Washington Generals just wanted to stay alive. Washington got on the board first on a goal from defenseman Joe Kelly, then increased the lead to two thanks to a goal from Billy Little. When Gerry Stokes made it 3-0, it looked like game seven was a sure thing. However, just seconds into the second period, Paul Murphy scored to bring California to within two. Halfway through the period, Washington defenseman Don Cox took a penalty for high-sticking. The Nuggets took advantage immediately, as defenseman Sandy Brayden’s point shot was deflected into the net to bring the score to 3-2. Washington managed to tighten up through the third period, with Don Lapin playing solid in net. Then, with just 13 seconds left, California’s Rod Skelton finally beat Lapin to send the game to OT. In overtime, the action was back and forth with both teams getting chance after chance. It would be Washington captain Gerry Stokes who finally sealed it, keeping the Generals alive and sending the series to game seven.
Game seven would prove to be anticlimactic compared to the rest of the series. Washington put up a fight, with Stokes even scoring two goals, but it was only enough to keep it from being a rout as California put six goals past Don Lapin to claim their first Lewis Cup in franchise history. “This is absolutely incredible!” said forward Bruce Dickenson, who had been with the club since their GHL days. “We’ve come a long way as a group and to finally do this together is very satisfying.”