SIX NATIONS – Game #1 was a close one, at least much closer than may have be expected. But after eliminating Welland three games to none, the Six Nations are now in a deeper part of the OLA Jr. B playoff pool, and playing against a team coached by someone who knows Six Nations Jr. lacrosse well. Niagara coach Randy Chrysler coached the Jr. A Arrows in the past and knows all the pros and cons of the Six Nations powerhouse lacrosse machine.
The Thunderhawks engaged in a defensive battle with the high flying, fast and talented Rebels, slowing them down to a more manageable pace. Great goaltending at both ends of the ILA floor kept the score very low by lacrosse standards in the first two periods.
Eric Masters scored the first goal of the best of five series at 10:13 from Robert McMicking and Blade Garlow. The goal stirred the sleeping giant and Alex Henry scored his first of the game a minute later from Bo Henhawk, who followed that with his own goal, unassisted, at 15:02. That is how the first period ended with the Rebels holding a one goal, 2-1 lead.
Niagara found some success early in the second period when Curtis Printup and Ryan Wagner scored eight seconds apart, within the first 30 seconds of the period to take a 3-2 lead.
Rebels coaching staff then seemed to find a chink in the Thunderhawks defensive armor, and exploited it fully. The Rebels speed and passing accuracy ignited their transitional game catching the Thunderhawks flat footed several times.
Alex Henry, Zach Williams, Mitch Green, Henry, with his third, and Kyle Isaacs exploded with goals, most of them begun in their own defensive zone with quick breakout passes. The second period ended with the Rebels ahead 7-3.
Isaacs made that 8-3 at 33 seconds of the third period but the methodical Thunderhawks chipped away at that lead with goals by McMicking, Brad Thomas and Austin Wright. But Tyler Longboat closed out the scoring at 15:48 and the Rebels’ Chase Martin and his defense held their ground the rest of the way for the 9-6 final score. Brandon Styres played an outstanding game in the Niagara net as well.
Six Nations Rebels’ Timothy Johnson and Niagara Thunderhawks’ Connor Overstrom, chase down a loose ball at the ILA in game #1 of the second round of the OLA Jr. B playoffs, Thursday night. Photo by Jim Windle