SIX NATION – The Six Nations Rebels are up two games to none over the Welland Generals in the first round of the playoffs after Friday night’s 14-8 win at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena and Sunday’s 18-6 win in Welland.
The Rebels, who finished their second consecutive undefeated regular season, are the favorites to make it to the Founders Cup National Finals again this year. The team already own a historic record of winning three Cups in a row, and will be shooting for their fourth consecutive national title.
Welland finished 7-12-1 for 15 points in fourth place in the South West Division, 25 points behind the Rebels.
Game #1 was much closer than anyone, including coach Murray Porter, expected, and despite the win, he was not pleased with what he saw.
“We weren’t up for the task tonight,” said Porter. “In the regular season we beat ‘em badly, but we showed up tonight like they were going to hand it to us and they gave a solid effort and kept it close. It comes down to mental preparation for Game #2. The guys that dress that night better be ready to play. Tonight that didn’t happen.”
The game began in a predictable fashion, with the Rebels total dominance of the ball from the face of with crisp passing around the horn until Kyle Isaacs finished the play with the 1-0 goal assisted by Dallas John and Zed Williams. That was only 27 seconds into the first period.
The Generals tied it up on a powerplay at 6:27 with Cam Phillips’ first of the night, which triggered a four goal Rebels outburst. Jacob Bomberry scored at 10:03 and 12:48. Dallas John and Tehoka Nanticoke-Hill gave the Rebels a 5-1 lead.
Thinking the night would be a walk over, the Rebels allowed themselves to get distracted, and allowed a powerplay goal and two short-handers to hand the Generals a double dose of confidence heading into the third period dawn by only one goal and carrying the play.
Welland brought that confidence into the second period and tied the Rebels 5-5, at 5:25, But Layne Smith caught Welland goalie Graeme McCullough looking the wrong way to take the narrow lead back.
Brandon Porga scored his second of the period for Welland to even it up again at 6-6 at 9:59. Dallas John took the lead back with a powerplay marker at 15:12.
Tyler Longboat was slapped with two holding minors on the same play at 15:51, and sentenced to 4 minutes in the box. But rather than put the Rebels on their heals, Kessler Doolittle and Smith scored short handed goals with Longboat watching from the sin-bin. Generals’ Adam Barron closed the second period with the Rebels leading 9-7.
It wasn’t until the third period that the Founders Cup owners started looking like the Rebels again. Timothy Johnson scored unassisted at 5:43 and Mitch Green delivered a short-handed goal at 7:05 to take the score to 11-7.
Jack Fitzgerald scored what would be Welland’s last goal at 8:12, before Smith, Zed Williams and Longboat put the final touches on the win.
Sunday in Welland, the Rebels were more like themselves and never gave the Generals opportunity to gain their confidence, at least after the Generals scored the first goal of the game at 55 seconds. Welland closed the period as well but in between, Dallas John, Jacob Bomberry, Tehoka Nanticoke-Hill and Zed Williams scored for the Rebels to end the first period leading the Generals 4-2.
Unlike in Game #1, Six Nations were not distracted and poured in another 9 goals in the second, allowing one to finish 40 minutes ahead 13-3. They also outscored the Generals 5-3 in the third for the 18-6 final.
Leading the Six Nations Rebels charge was Zed Williams with 6 goals and 3 assists, and Tyler Longboat with 3 goals and 5 assists. Jacob Bomberry scored one and assisted on five. Chase Martin recorded the win for the Rebs in net.
“We’re 21 games into the season so far and we have yet to dress a full team without any AP’s called up,” says Porter.
He says it’s frustrating for him as a coach to have all these names on paper, and he can’t put them on the floor at the same time.
“On the other hand, the talent pool is so deep, it really doesn’t matter much who’s on the floor,” Porter says. “We went to Elora and St. Catharines last week missing five to seven of our regular players and we hammered them. Tonight (Friday) we come with almost all of our regulars and we barely squeak out a win,” if you can call 14-8 a squeaker.
Game #3 of the best-of-five series is set for the ILA, Friday July 4th at 8 pm., with Game #4, if necessary, back in Welland, Sunday July 6th, at 7 pm. Game #5, if necessary, will be played at the ILA, Monday July 7, at 8 pm.
Timothy Johnson in alone on Welland General’s goalie Graeme McCullough in Friday night’s 14-8 win. Johnson, a transition player, scored on one and assisted on another. Photo by Jim Windle