William Gregory Scuby
Born: January 6, 1923 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
Died: November 22, 2013 (Victoria, B.C.)
Bill Scuby was professional lacrosse’s boy goaltender. He first guarded the net for the New Westminster Salmonbellies at age 15 in 1938. Four years later, the ’Bellies advanced to the Mann Cup championship final thanks largely to the heroics of their teenaged netminder.
He was a spectacular goaltender, though saddled with a nickname that perhaps suggested otherwise — Scoop ’em Up Scuby.
Scuby’s athletic career was interrupted by the Second World War, in which he served at a bacteriological research station. He returned fulltime to the New Westminster goal in 1946, again backstopping his team to the Mann Cup finals.
Born in Michigan to Greek immigrants, Scuby grew up in New Westminster, where he played basketball for his high school team. His precocious skill, not to mention bravery, earned him a starting role in the Inter-City Box Lacrosse League at an early age. By 1940, he was the Salmonbellies everyday goaltender. In his first full campaign in the semipro league, Scuby’s record was 7 wins, 17 losses.
In 1942, Scuby led all goalies in the Inter-City league by stopping 69 percent of the shots he faced. The team coached by Stan Wood and managed by A.G. (Grumpy) Spring won the provincial championship by defeating the Norvans of North Vancouver and a United Services team of servicemen from Victoria. The club then traveled east to Montreal, where they won two consecutive games to eliminate a team representing Lachine-Ville St-Pierre to advance to the Mann Cup final.
The Salmonbellies met Ontario’s Mimico-Brampton Combines in a best-of-five series at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. With a roster depleted by injury and influenza, the Westerners lost the opening games 10-7 and 15-9 before winning the third game. New Westminster was leading 9-6 with less than 10 minutes left in Game 4 when the Combines made a goat of the young ’Bellies netminder by firing four quick goals past him, including one on a controversial penalty shot call.
Scuby then went off to war, where he was posted to a warfare research station on Grosse Isle, Que.
He returned to Queen’s Park Arena for three games in 1945 and a fulls season in 1946, when the Salmonbellies again advanced to the Mann Cup final in Toronto after eliminating the Vancouver Burrards and Trail (B.C.) Golden Bears. Canadian Press staff writer William H. Dumsday hailed Scuby as “one of the smartest boxla goalies to show here with western clubs in many years.” Despite the praise, Scuby found himself on the losing side, as the St. Catharines (Ont.) Athletics swept the British Columbians in three straight games. Scuby hurt his back in one of the games, and Dumsday unkindly suggested the injured was likely suffered from “stooping so often to retrieve the ball from his cage.”
The goalie moved to Prince Rupert on the northern British Columbia coast, opening a high-end furrier in the 300-block of 3rd Avenue West which would include a factory and a cold-storage vault. He married Betty Ellison and began a family. In 1962, he moved to Victoria, where he opened a second Scuby Furs on Government Street. He also purchased a farm on nearby Salt Spring Island, where he liked to tend his orchard and to which he retired in 1991. He spent several years caring for his wife, the former Betty Ellison, who had a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease before her death in 2009.
Scuby was also predeceased by three sisters. He leaves two sons, four grandchildren, and three great-grandsons.