SIX NATIONS – The Six Nations Rebels’ “Drive for Five” season began on Friday night at the ILA, using the dejected Welland Generals to help deliver a 21-4 notice to the league that this year’s Rebels intend to keep the Cup right where it is.
And just in case there was any doubt, they put a 12-4 exclamation mark on the message Sunday against the Hamilton Bengals.
The Rebels will be under the guiding hand of former goaltending coach Derek General this season. Former coach Murray Porter has decided to step down from coaching this year. He still wants to play, and has a young family he wants to spend more time with, without the Rebels coaching commitment.
General has been an assistant coach for the past four consecutive Founders Cup wins, so he knows the system and the players.
“It’s really not that much of a transition to go to head coach this year,” says General. “The last few years when Murray was coaching he taught me a lot and we would lean on each other along with Cam (Bomberry).
“It’s just a matter of getting used to some of our newer players and bring them in to play the way we want them to.”
Helping out behind the bench again this year will be Kenny Miller.
The Six Nations lacrosse machine, otherwise known as the Six Nations Minor Lacrosse Association, continues to turn out top quality young guns every year and this year is no exception. Almost half of this year’s Rebels are rookies.
“For the most part, there is a lot of new blood here and we’re just evaluating what we have right now,” General says. “We still have a few needs so there may be even more younger guys [coming] in.”
It will be up to General and Miller to temper some of these new recruits and mold them into a team.
Despite two lop-sided victories to open the 2015 season this past weekend, General sees a problem which will need to be rectified if the Rebels’ unprecedented four straight Founders Cups is to become five: penalties.
“We had a lack of discipline out there and Briley (Miller) kept us in the game,” he said after Sunday’s game. “When anyone comes to Six Nations to play, we have the biggest target on our backs after the last few years and it just gets bigger every year. A lot of the penalties tonight took away from the flow of our game. Every team’s goal is to knock us off, even if it’s the only win they get all year, at least they will be able to say that they beat the Rebels.”
On the bright side, the new stable of talent is fast and skillful and the veterans provide stability.
Being a former NLL goaltender himself, General is especially interested in his own end of the floor and, in particular, his young goaltenders, Briley Miller and Daniel Hill, whom he works with regularly.
Sunday night, the Rebels started a little slow and looked a bit uncertain in transition, but as the game wore on, they began to gel.
A good number of new rookie Rebs put points up in the 12-4 Six Nations win. Garret Vyse-Squire scored two and assisted on three to lead the young Rebels, while this year’s captain, veteran Mitch Green, scored two and assisted on two.
Layne Smith, a second year Rebel, is off to a flying start with six goals and two assists in two games.
It was 4-2 for the Rebels after the first period, but the Bengals were left in the dust in the second frame, 9-3.
“I don’t know how many poles we hit,” General said. “We were beating the goalie but hitting the post. But then, a win is a win and it really doesn’t matter much how you get ‘em. But tonight was pretty ugly.”
They will not see game action again until May 1st at home against the St. Catharines Spartans, and the following afternoon at 4 p.m. the Rebels will be in Wallaceburg to face the Red Devils.