Teammates are fondly remembering Vernon Essos captain Bob Mayer, a local kid who captained the team to the franchise’s first of a league-best 12 B.C. Junior Hockey League championship in 1969-70, and was the league’s Most Valuable Player the same year. Mayer died Aug. 14 in Vernon at age 69. (Photo submitted)

Essos captain fondly remembered in Okanagan

On a team with scoring stars, defenceman Bob Mayer was named league MVP in 1970 as Essos won BCJHL

On a team 50 years ago that featured scoring stars like the late Wayne Dye, Lawrence Quechuk, John Price and Jack Marsh, it was the Vernon Essos’ captain, defenceman Bob Mayer, a strong, silent type, who was named the most valuable player of the B.C. Junior Hockey League in 1969-‘70.

Mayer, who led the Essos to the first of what now stands as a league-best 12 BCJHL championships in 1969-70, died Aug. 14 of cancer at age 69.

READ MORE: Robert Arthur Mayer

That season, Mayer scored 22 goals and added 46 assists for 63 points, fifth in team scoring and top-10 in the then-seven team league.

“He played the power play, defended well, worked harder than anybody and led the practices,” said Quechuk.

“He was quiet, but he was a leader by example,” added Essos teammate Jim Inglis who, along with goalie Ed Forslund, grew up with Mayer on 17th Street on Vernon’s East Hill.

“It was a lot nicer playing with him than against him,” said Forslund, who won a BCJHL championship the year before with the Victoria Cougars. “I’ve played goal my whole life and in all of the years I played, Bob had the hardest shot. That’s all we did as kids was play road hockey under the street lights. He’d take shots at me, I’d take shots at him.”

For Quechuk, the Vernon News beautifully captured the way Mayer played: “Since Mayer’s first year of junior, he has been playing outstanding hockey. His defensive moves are impressive and his hard slap shot from the blue line brings applause from fans in every rink he plays.”

Born June 8, 1950 in New Westminster, Mayer and his family moved to Lumby for one year before settling in on East Hill. He played three seasons for the Essos, 1967-‘68, ‘68-‘69 and ‘69-‘70, his MVP season. The Essos made it to the Western Canadian final in 1970, losing in six games to Saskatchewan’s Weyburn Red Wings.

“We had Wayne and Lawrence scoring goals, but Bob scored a lot from the back end,” said Inglis. “To have the kind of season he did was awesome. The power play was his specialty. When the puck went back to him, you knew something good was going to happen.”

Mayer joined Forslund as an overage player in Victoria in 1970-71 (Coast teams could play with overage players, Interior teams could not, said Quechuk), then tried out unsuccessfully for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.

He tried his luck in the minor pros, in Des Moines, Iowa, but came back to Canada, as Inglis said, because “the money wasn’t very good.” He played some senior hockey in Port Alberni and Cranbrook before returning home to Vernon, where he worked as a carpenter, including a 25-year career with the Vernon School District.

“As an observer, Bob was a great defender. If you tried to get between him and the boards, you usually paid a price,” said Graydon Brown, who played lacrosse with Mayer on the Vernon Labatts Blues, a pre-cursor to the three-time Canadian Senior B champion Vernon Tigers, in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s. Mayer impressed Brown with his lacrosse abilities.

“He played three full years with the Blues and he could score.”

Sitting in with his dad’s former teammates was son Chris, who hadn’t heard a lot of the stories being bandied about in a conference room.

“He was a very good dad,” said Chris. “He always took us to sports, he provided for us and he was quiet. He fathered like he captained the Essos: he would tell us to not show all of our cards; never show everything so you can surprise some people when they come out.”

Mayer is survived by sons Chris and Ryan (Krystal), two grandchildren and two brothers. He was predeceased by his wife, Brenda, and sister Donna.

A celebration of life for Mayer will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, from 2-4 p.m. at the Schubert Centre.

READ MORE: Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame welcomes quartet


@VernonNews
roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

RCMP report that suspect in North Shuswap threatened to kill neighbours

Police say man was arrested with loaded weapons inside vehicle and residence

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Salmon Arm city staff say rain predicted could flood tunnel, causing beach closure

Sandbagging continues for flood-prone areas around Shuswap, Mara lakes

Shuswap Emergency Program closely monitoring water levels

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Shuswap caregiver a hero in husband’s eyes

Night and day shifts leave little time for Tracy and Rick Duncan

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Dyer: I left my heart in the desert

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Most Read