When the Rebels blow out the opposition, as has happened more often than not this year, the focus is usually on the goal scorers, but against the Niagara Thunderhawks, the stars of the series were the Rebels defenders and goaltenders.
Although the Six Nations Rebels swept the Niagara Thunderhawks three games straight in Jr. B Quarter finals lacrosse action, Friday night at the ILA, it was by no means a walk in the park, at least for two of the wins.
The Rebels did get by the Thunderhawks, who found a way to neutralize some of the offensive power they were facing and kept the score relatively low with strong defensive play, and good goaltending in Games 1 and 3.
Friday night’s 7-4 win took the series three games to none after winning Game #1, 9-6 and an 18-2 blowout in Niagara for Game 2.
“That was a good series,” said coach Murray Porter. “It was up and down, two tight games and one lop-sided, but we got what we wanted in three games.”
Porter commended the Niagara defense in Games 1 and 3, and gave credit where it was due.
“Niagara transitioned the ball quite a bit and that’s where they go a lot of their chances. For us it’s a matter of getting off the floor, and staying out of the penalty box. If we do that, nobody is going to run with us.”
The Rebels now face the winners of the Orangeville Northmen and Windsor Clippers series, which is anticipated to begin Friday night at the ILA.
It was 2-0 before the Thunderhawks got it in gear as they came back to tie the game at 2-2 by the end of the first period.
The second period saw the Rebels begin to establish their sustained pressure, however Niagara has some sensational chances – especially early in the period when Six Nations goalie Chase Martin stood tall stopping a close in shot and two subsequent rebounds with uncanny anticipation and athleticism.
“They really came out hard against us tonight,” said Martin following the win. “They had their backs against the wall but for us it was a matter of weathering the storm and getting past the first two periods. What we like to focus on is getting better every game. We work on errors that we made during the game and get ready for the next game.”
Martin singled out Blake Garlow from the Thunderhawks as a shooter he really had to focus on.
“I gotta give credit to Blake Garlow,” said Martin “He’s a big guy and he’s got good hands and when he gets in close he‘s got a good shot.
“I got a lot of support from our ‘D’ guys tonight and they did good on the penalty kill, he said.
Leading the way offensively was Mitch Green with two goals and an assist.