In the forty-sixth edition of “Legends of the Game” we look at the career of Leslie “Les” Norman.
Leslie D. “Les” Norman (December 2, 1939 in Sexsmith, Alberta – December 2010) was a Canadian retired professional and amateur box lacrosse goaltender. A long time member of the New Westminster Salmonbellies franchise, Norman was a winner of three Mann Cups as a Canadian Lacrosse Champion, the 1968 National Lacrosse Association professional championship, and the 1965 Mann Cup’s most valuable player. Norman was also the first goaltender to post a shutout in a Western Lacrosse Association (then ICLL) game. Les Norman was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 1958, Norman played for both the Senior and Junior teams in New Westminster. In the 1959 season, he was chosen to replace legend Bunny Joseph. By the end of the season, Norman was named a First Team All-Star and Rookie of the Year of the ICLL. He capped off the season by leading the O’Keefes to a 4-games-to-none Mann Cup victory over the Peterborough Mercurys. The Mercurys’s legendary goaltender Moon Wootton proclaimed after the series, “That guy Norman is some goalie. He’ll be getting the name I’ve had for some years.”
In 1962, Norman, now a veteran of the team, helped the O’Keefes to a second ICLL championship and another 4-games-to-none sweep in a Mann Cup final, this time against the Brampton Ramblers. On May 3, 1962, he led the O’Keefes to a 27-save shutout over the Victoria Shamrocks, the first shutout in ICLL/WLA history.
In 1965, Norman would lead the O’Keefes to a third league title. Norman would claim his third and final Mann Cup in seven games over the Brooklin Merchants and win the Mike Kelly Memorial Trophy as the Mann Cup’s most valuable player.
In 1968, Norman went professional when his Salmonbellies joined the Western Division of the National Lacrosse Association. Despite being passed over for all major awards and all-star teams and a third-place finish in the West, Norman would lead the Salmonbellies to a seven-game victory over the Vancouver Carlings and a six-game victory to knock-off the first place and Joe Comeau-less Portland Adanacs to win the West. The Salmonbellies would meet Gaylord Powless the Detroit Olympias in the NLA final and beat them 4-games-to-2.
After playing nine games in a second NLA season, Norman left lacrosse. He would return for the 1971 season and then retire. He was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1989. He died in December 2010 after a short battle with brain cancer.
From the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Les Norman was named the Western Lacrosse Association’s rookie-of-the-year in 1959, as a member of the New Westminster, British Columbia, Salmonbellies.
Les was the Mann Cup’s Mike Kelly MVP in 1965, W.L.A. MVP in 1961, three times selected as league’s outstanding goalie, and seven times an all-star. Les played in five Mann Cup championships, and was on the winning team three times.
His lifetime average of shots stopped is 75.8 percent and at the time of his induction he was the only Western goalie to hold a shutout in league play.
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• ^ Bible of Lacrosse – statistics
• ^Stan Shillington’s “Who’s Who in Lacrosse”by Stan Shillington Western Lacrosse Association. 2013.