HAMILTON – The Canadian national box lacrosse team earned an impressive 19-6 win over the U.S. at the 2017 Heritage Cup game in Hamilton, Ontario on Saturday night. The four-time defending world champions kept their unbeaten streak alive, improving to 24-0 on the international stage since 2003.
Mark Matthews led the charge with three goals and five assists, while Curtis Dickson added four goals and three assists of his own. Team captain Dan Dawson, along with Shawn Evans, Dhane Smith and Ryan Benesch, also contributed offensively with two goals apiece.
“To play with such talented guys is an honour,” said Team Canada defender Paul Dawson. “It’s special to put on the Canada jersey, but to win on that floor in front of friends and family is even more special.”
Dawson and his teammates did a tremendous job keeping some of the sport’s biggest names in check, including field lacrosse superstars Rob Pannell, who got an assist in his box lacrosse debut, and Paul Rabil, who had two assists in his first indoor game since 2013.
Things looked promising for the U.S. after the opening quarter, down only 5-2, but Canada’s high powered offence would hit its stride in the second stanza, scoring five unanswered goals to take an 11-5 lead into the break.
The aggressiveness and physicality of the Canadian defense helped them hold the U.S. scoreless in the third quarter, adding six goals of their own in the frame to build a commanding 17-5 lead.
A pair of Toronto Rock players brought home some hardware, with Canadian goaltender Brandon Miller and American forward Tom Schreiber earning Player of the Game honours for their respective countries.
Miller was superb between the pipes, turning away 38 shots, while Schreiber, the reigning NLL Rookie of the Year, netted a hat-trick in the losing effort.
The revival of the Heritage Cup, and the decision to host it in Hamilton, provided many in attendance at the FirstOntario Centre with their very first opportunity to watch the national team in person.
“This is the first time the Canadian indoor team has played in Ontario since 2003,” said head coach and Hamilton native Eddie Comeau. “That’s a lot of years to be on the road, so to play at home is a great opportunity for our fans to see some of the best lacrosse players in the world.”
The inaugural Heritage Cup game took place in Mississauga, Ontario in 2002, and saw the U.S. defeat Canada by a score of 21-16. The Canadians bested the Americans two years later in 2004, winning 17-8 in Denver, Colorado. After a short hiatus, the event returned to Montreal, Quebec in 2013, where Team Canada defeat the Iroquois Nationals in a nail-biter, 12-11.
“I think this event is great for both teams,” added Comeau. “It was great for the U.S. as it gave them a chance to get together a lot earlier than they ever have. We saw some great things out of them. They have some great players and are gonna be even better when the world championship rolls around.”