Victoria lacrosse legend Kevin Alexander, shown in an early career action photo (left) and today in his role as assistant coach with the Vancouver Stealth of the National Lacrosse League. Alexander’s number 26 is being officially retired by the Victoria Shamrocks and will be hung from the rafters of The Q Centre between periods at this Friday’s (June 15) Western Lacrosse Association game. Photos Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (left)/Vancouver Stealth

Shamrocks honours: Alexander best shooter of his generation, maybe the best ever

Kevin Alexander joining rare club; number 26 to be retired as part of Friday alumni game

Kevin Alexander isn’t one to brag about his exploits on the lacrosse floor, despite his many accomplishments.

Part of that may be due to the era in which he played for the Victoria Shamrocks, a time when players hammered each other with wooden sticks, played both offence and defence and weren’t above dropping the gloves to make a point. And most had to get up for work the next day.

Alexander’s other-worldly scoring prowess helped the ’Rocks win Mann Cup national titles in 1979 and 1983 and made him a frequent target of crunching hits by opponents. His time with the Shamrocks (1979-86) comes into focus Friday (June 15) when, as part of the Alumni Night, his number 26 will be retired and hoisted to the rafters at The Q Centre in Colwood. He joins Whitey Severson and Ranjit Dillon as the only players to receive such an honour.

Being part of a storied lacrosse club, and reaching for goals together as teammates was as much a highlight as setting Western Lacrosse Association scoring records, said Alexander, a hall of famer and current assistant coach with the pro National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Stealth.

“There were special moments, when you have the winning season, they stand out,” the 62 year old said. “When you’re playing a team sport, it’s always about what the guys are doing together and how everyone is getting along.”

While he only knew of Severson by reputation and post-career, he was a teammate at the end of Dillon’s career and was pleased to see the WLA veteran win a Mann Cup in 1979 and later honoured with his number retired.

“They were special people; they were longtime Shamrocks and did a lot for the community,” Alexander said. Of the club, he added, “It was always first class. They were the best organized and the best-run team.” While they weren’t always the best team in the WLA, they worked hard together to be the best they could be, he said.

Walt Christianson played four years with Alexander and has been with the Shamrocks organization since 1981, most recently as president of the club’s Alumni Association. Having played with, watched and coached hundreds of players in that time, Christianson called him “probably the best shooter that I’ve ever seen.” And Alexander was not just a natural shooter, he added, his talent for finding the holes was the product of massive amounts of practice.

Not only were Alexander’s strong backhand shots – from both sides of his body – legendary and catching opponents off guard, his accuracy was incredible, Christianson said. He described a practise exercise Alexander would regularly do at Pearkes Arena, standing a distance away and trying to put the ball through the tiny hole in the glass through which referees talk to scorekeepers.

“He would [get it through] pretty regularly,” Christianson said.

Addressing why it took so long for Alexander to have his number retired, the alumni president noted that the group only began doing so two years ago, and wanted to start with the oldest players first. As well, the criteria requires players to have been with the team five or more years.

“There have been a lot of great players who have played for the Shamrocks, but when you start talking about retiring jerseys, the list gets smaller quickly,” he said.

Bleeding Green … Fans are invited to partake in an Alumni Night tailgate party in The Q Centre parking lot starting at 6 p.m. Alexander will participate in the opening faceoff for the Shamrocks-Maple Ridge Burrards game at 7:30 p.m., then the jersey raising will happen during the first intermission. The second break will see the introduction of members of the 1983 Mann Cup-winning team.

editor@vicnews.com

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