OHSWEKEN — Layne Smith led the Six Nations Rebels charge in the first of three back-to-back, must win games to keep the Drive-for-Five season alive after dropping games one and two in Akwesasne in the best of five Jr. B finals.
This past Wednesday, Aug. 12th, due to a scheduling issue at the ILA where the Six Nations Arrows were playing the Peterborough Lakers in the Jr. A playoffs, the Rebels returned to the Gaylord Powless Arena, their former home, to begin their three game home stand.
One could not fit another dozen people in that building without splitting the walls to do it, as Six Nations of the Grand River welcomed their Akwesasne cousins for three games in three nights.
Along with the usual “Rebels Nation” many Akwesasne fans made the trip to support their team ad do a little visiting while here. Together, the Gaylord Powless Arena was jam packed, three deep around the standing room only walkway and rink-side standing room. Even the lobby was loaded with fans trying to maneuver for an angle to watch the game from.
It was the same for Thursday night’s game, but the Rebels could not keep their drive for five season alive as the Akwesasne Indians came with no intention of going back home empty handed.
Down two games to one, the Rebels needed to win both Thursday and a potential Game #5, Friday to stay alive.
The Akwesasne Indians wanted it over before Friday to get travel arrangements ready for the Founders Cup Championships, this year held in Calgary.
Although disappointed in not making it to this year’s Founders Cup, the Rebels had some solace in that another Onkwehonwe team would represent Ontario.
“We got beat. It’s a simple as that,” said head coach Derrek General after having some time to think about what happened. “We knew Akwesasne was going to be strong because they had 10-11, 21-year-olds. They had more experience than us. We had 12 or 13 rookies and even in Game #4, we had more rookies.”
The Rebels will loose Mitch Green, Austin Staats and Phil Henry to overage as well.
Even at that, General looks back at the number of posts his team hit in Game #4 alone, which couldn’t have made a difference.
Next season, there will be a rebuild for both the Arrows and the Rebels with more than a dozen Jr. A Arrows going overage. They will have a lot of holes to fill and General believes he will be loosing a number of his young guns to fill those spots, which means the rebels will be drawing from the Jr. C Warriors, rippling down through the system.
Wednesday, Akwesasne took a 4-3 lead in the first after Danton Miller and Chayton King gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Six Nations made that back and more in the second period with Layne Smith contributing four of the Rebels six goals in the middle frame. Also scoring for the Rebs were Kessler Doolittle and Ty Logan. Seth Oaks and Skylar Thomas score for the Indians.
The score was 9-6 as the teams took to the hard floor for the third period. Travis Longboat added another insurance goal at 11:12 before Jack Hopps and Dalston Day scored for the visitors, but it would not be enough to change the outcome of the game, which the Rebels won 10-8.
Smith, a second year Rebels, had a very good rookie season last year with 33 goals and 46 assists in 20 games dressed for. This regular season in 16 games, he scored 41 times and assisted on 19. The Rebels will be leaning heavily on him in 2016.