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Copper Country Legends/Paul Peterson

Lorimer had knack for being in right place at right time

April 9, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

TORONTO - From a NCAA championship at Michigan Tech to two straight Stanley Cup titles in the National Hockey League, Bob Lorimer had a knack for usually being on the winning side.

"He (Lorimer) was just one of those kind of guys you wanted on your team," former MTU player Bruce Horsch said. "He was a smart and talented hockey player ... and a great leader."

Late Tech coaching legend John MacInnes said that Lorimer was a "stay at home defenseman."

"Bob Lorimer seldom made a mistake," MacInnes said in a 1980 interview. "He was as solid a defenseman as any I ever coached here."

For his part, Lorimer said one of the main reasons for the success he had was listening to his coaches.

"I was fortunate to have played for great coaches," he said at a MTU hockey alumni reunion a few years back. "When they told me to stay back (on defense), I did just that."

Lorimer got his start with the Aurora (Ont.) Tigers in 1970, but jumped at the opportunity to play for MacInnes the following season.

Michigan Tech was in the middle of a great stretch of success, having won two NCAA titles and several Western Collegiate Hockey Association crowns in the decade of the 1960s.

"It wasn't a big decision on my part," Lorimer recalled. "John (MacInnes) was the best college hockey coach around, and they had just built a new hockey rink there."

The newly constructed MTU Student Ice Arena was considered state of the art in those days. And with MacInnes tapping the Canadian "pipeline" of talent, the Huskies were usually in the hunt for a NCAA title.

The 1974-75 MTU squad rolled to a 32-10 record and a NCAA title, easily defeating Boston University and Minnesota in the Final Four in St. Louis.

Goaltender Jim Warden was voted the tourney MVP, although the Huskies tallied 15 goals in the two games.

Lorimer had his best offensive season with 10 goals and 21 assists, but the offensive fireworks were usually provided by Bob D'Alvise (37-47), Mike Zuke (35-43), Bill Steele (29-30) and George Lyle (37-19).

"There were a lot of scorers on that team," said Horsch, a freshman goaltender on the title squad. "College hockey was much different than today, it really was offense-oriented."

After spending a couple of seasons in the minor leagues, Lorimer was called up to the New York Islanders at the end of the 1976-77 campaign.

He was taking a regular turn on defense by the following season and was a mainstay when the team captured Stanley Cups in 1980 and 1981.

The Islanders of that era had such stars as Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin, and the 6-foot 200-pound Lorimer sometimes found himself serving as an enforcer.

Some of his fights - most notably against rugged Bob "Battleship" Kelly of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks - can still be found on the Internet.

"I don't think Bob (Lorimer) looked for fights," Horsch said. "But he didn't back down from them, either."

Lorimer finished out his NHL days with the New Jersey Devils in 1986, closing with career totals of 22 goals and 90 assists.

Today, he serves as Vice President of Investment Services at Fiera Sceptre Inc. of Toronto.

Lorimer still takes a turn on the ice during the Oldtimers Challenge Hockey series, which benefits charities.

Lorimer remembers his Tech days with fondness.

"We were all one big family. John (MacInnes) made sure we kept our grades up and made it to practice every day," he said. "It was a great time in my life."



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