Bill Wilkes of Long Beach Gulls takes aim on Burbank goalie Bev Bentley in a 1963 hockey game.
William Dennis Wilkes
Born: September 30, 1939 (New Westminster, British Columbia)
Died: February 28, 2015 (Burnaby, British Columbia)
Bill Wilkes won two Mann Cup national lacrosse championships as a forward with the New Westminster O’Keefes.
Wilkes spent eight seasons with the O’Keefes, playing alongside such box lacrosse stars as Cliff Sepka and Jack Bionda. More of a sniper than a playmaker, Wilkes was a reliable scorer who finished among the Top 10 Inter-City Box Lacrosse League scorers in 1964, when he had 40 goals and 19 assists in 27 regular-season games.
The O’Keefes won Mann Cup titles in 1962 (in five games against the Brampton Ramblers) and ’65 (in seven games against the Brooklin Redmen). Wilkes had 11 goals and 8 assists in 11 career Mann Cup playoff games.
Wilkes joined the O’Keefes as a 20-year-old rookie in 1960. He retired following a dismal 1967 season in which the team finished out of the playoffs for the first time in his career. By then, the club had reverted to their storied Salmonbellies nickname under which his father, also named Bill Wilkes, won four Mann Cup titles, as well as the Mike Kelly Memorial Trophy as the Mann Cup most valuable player in 1943. An eye injury the following year ended the senior Wilkes’s playing career and he became a boxla referee. He was among the inaugural inductees into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1966. The senior Wilkes, born in Burk’s Falls, Ont., on July 4, 1912 and named William Albert Wilkes, died in 1990, aged 77.
The junior Bill Wilkes also played professional hockey with the Fort Wayne Komets and Indianapolis Chiefs of the International Hockey League. He wound up his pro hockey career with the Long Beach Gulls of the California Hockey League in 1962-63, where he finished fourth in scoring and was named to the All-Star team. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound winger played his junior hockey with the Prince Albert Mintos. He also skated in three Western Hockey League games with his hometown New Westminster Royals and the Vancouver Canucks.
Wilkes was a longtime firefighter in his hometown until retiring in 1999.