SIX NATIONS – If Saturday’s Jr. B lacrosse showcase can be any indication, it looks like it’s going to be another great year for the Six Nations Jr. B Rebels when the season opens April 11 in London, Ont.
The Rebels’ Showcase tournament hosted eight Jr. B teams that will be competing for the Founders Cup and offered coaches, general managers and fans a glimpse of their 2017 prospects before final cuts are made.
The Rebels let four prospects go after the showcase, and will tighten up the bench further after the Spartan Showcase Saturday in St. Catharines.
Winning or losing at these showcases is not important at all. They give everyone a good look before the new season begins.
In the stands were team executive coaches and scouts watching not only their own hopefuls, but also taking note of what talent is out there in case one or two players become available.
The new crop of talent is vying for a spot on one of the hardest rosters in the league to earn a place on at Six Nations. As rookie coach Miles General says, “It also helps the players to see for themselves what they need to do to play at this level of the game.”
The Rebels have won the Founders Cup six times since 2007, including a run of four straight Cups between 2011 and 2014. But they have fallen on harder times these past two seasons, losing a heartbreaker to the Akwesasne Indians in 2015 and missing the finals last season.
This year, head coach General and his bench coaches Bear Hill and Nick Skye hope to regain their winning ways. General played on the 1992 Rebels when they won their first Cup with General’s father, former Six Nations Elected Chief Dave General behind the bench.
They got a very good idea of who is ready to take up that challenge in 2017.
For the Showcase, General was very pleased with what he saw in a lot of young kids coming up, but even more so with the improvements made in some of last year’s rookie Rebels.
“We’ve already named Colin Montour our captain,” reveals General. “He has shown himself to be a leader in the dressing room and on the floor and is well respected as someone who leads from example, and that was what we were looking for.”
General was excited not only about the talent he will be working with this season in his rookie coaching assignment at this level of the game, but already has his eyes on next year when he will be seeing some of these kids again and has noted then all.
Everybody worked hard at camp but General is looking for the one who go the extra mile.
“We will need that attitude to bring the Founders Cup back to Six Nations,” he says.
But he may have shown his own hand to his players at the same time when he went ballistic on the referees in the second game and was tossed.
“I was just sticking up for our guys,” he said unapologetically. “And I hope our guys will do that for each other too.”
General was steamed at some of the calls that were made, including “dressing room” penalties when, “there was no penalty call when the period ended, but were discussed, I guess, in the ref’s room and assessed when the next period started. I don’t understand that at all.”
While the coaches coached and experiment with line matchups, General had “eyes in the sky” in the stands including his dad, looking at the little things, like a pick freeing a teammate for a clear shot, quick responses and a well tuned instinct for the ball.
“We kept all our goals against on Saturday to single digits which is going to be a goal of mine moving forward.”
There will be another showcase tournament in St. Catharines next week when the team will be solidified further with a few last minute cuts, but General knows that many of these young hopefuls can still be called up as AP players as the season goes on and could still find a spot during the season.
The new Rebels, with several second year players taking leadership roles this year, are small in size, as a team, but quick and fast with typical Six Nations stick handling skills and ball control one comes to expect from a Six Nations team no matter what level. But there is always fine-tuning to do as the season progresses.
As stated earlier, these games are not about winning or loosing, but the Rebels crushed all comers, leaving a calling card for team that this team is already focused on getting the Founders Cup back on Haudenosaunee Territory.
The OJBLL is comprised of 25 teams that each play a 20 game regular season. Four rounds of playoffs determine a league champion. The OJBLL champion advances to the Founders Cup each August to represent Ontario at the Canadian Championships.