Mohawks lift league championship trophy at home
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – There’s nothing like the feeling of hoisting a championship trophy in front of your home crowd.
That’s a feeling the Elora Mohawks experienced Thursday night at the Elora and District Community Centre as they claimed the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League championship with a 10-4 win over the Green Gaels of Clarington.
“It is pretty darn sweet,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “We didn’t want to lose down there at all, but we knew coming back that this was going to be pretty cool. I’m so happy for the guys.”
“It feels amazing, especially with the hometown crowd here,” defender Chris Jolley said. “Also being a hometown boy, it’s always been my dream growing up watching this happen and we finally get to do it. It’s amazing.”
“I’ve said every game this year there’s no better feeling than doing this in front of Elora at home,” Elora captain Klayton Hoelscher said. “There’s no better feeling than doing it with my brothers and the best fans in junior. I don’t even know what to say. This is the best feeling in the world. I know we’re not done, but we’ve got to embrace this right now because this is the coolest feeling ever.”
Thursday’s victory gave the Mohawks the league title in their second chance to win the best-of-five series. An 8-4 loss at the Darlington Sports Centre in Hampton in Game 3 Tuesday kept the Mohawks from sweeping the series.
Thursday, the Mohawks grabbed an early lead that they wouldn’t let out of their grasp.
“That was big time the difference tonight over Game 3,” Hoelscher said. “Game 3 we came out kind of expecting to win and it doesn’t work like that. Tonight we came out wanting to win and we needed it and we did it.”
“We got out early and we stuck to it this time and we didn’t stop,” Goss said. “This was probably our best game of the series, for sure, right through and through. What a perfect time to bring it.”
Nathan Bolger’s goal eight and a half minutes into the game broke a 1-1 tie and was the first of five consecutive goals for the Mohawks. That gave them a 6-1 lead, the same score the Mohawks had trailed by in Game 2 Sunday before they rallied for a 9-7 win.
The Gaels attempted to duplicate that feat as they scored three in a row before the hosts tallied twice late in the second to breathe easier.
The second of that pair came from fifth-year Mohawk Jolley, a defensive specialist.
“I just saw a loose ball there,” he said. “Jack (Francis) kind of hit it up between the legs and luckily it was in front of me. I got a step and got the loose ball and just ran down, saw the open spot and I just took a shot and hoped it went in. Fortunately it did.
“That was actually my first goal of the year. Five goals my whole lacrosse career so far, one each year so I might as well do it now. Right?”
Jolley is one of 11 Mohawks who played their final junior B lacrosse home game Thursday night.
“It’s been five years,” Jolley said. “The first three years were tough ones and then last year we started rebuilding and this year we stuck to it. We have a great group of guys here. They all want to work hard and they all want to win.”
Elora scored twice in the third to cement the victory.
The Gaels outshot Elora 49-39 and both teams went 1-for-2 on their power plays.
Landon Kells made 45 saves to get the win in the Elora net while Steven Walsh made 29 saves for Clarington.
Kurtis Woodland and Hoelscher scored twice each for the Mohawks while single goals were added by Tyrus Rehanek, Jolley, Jonah White, Ryan Mueller, Nathan Bolger and Cole Spear. Rehanek and Josh Rex each had three assists while Woodland, Jolley, Mueller, Hoelscher, Jack Francis, Bolger, Spear and Kells had one apiece.
Adam Kitchen hit for two goals for the Gaels while singletons were netted by Trent Boyd and Jeremy McWatters. Assists were awarded to Walsh, Brenden Lundy, Adam Poitras, Kitchen and Owen Boyle.
With the league title win the Mohawks advance to next week’s Canadian championship Founders Cup tournament at Akwesasne.
“We’ll enjoy this and then reset. This isn’t what we came for,” Goss said. “This is a good step in the process and we’re very happy and so proud to do it, but we have one more step to go. We’ll enjoy this, reset and then go back at it.”
“First off we have to enjoy this. You don’t get to do this very often,” Hoelscher said. “We’ve got to celebrate and move on and get ready for next week. It’s going to be an absolute grind. It’s three games in three days (in pool play, likely five games in five days overall) and we don’t really know what those teams are like so we’ve got to go in with our best effort and leave nothing on the floor in Akwesasne.”
The Mohawks are to play the host Seneca Medicine Men Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., the Manitoba Blizzard Wednesday at 2 p.m. and the Saskatchewan champions Thursday at 11 a.m. in pool play.
Top two in each pool advance to the semifinals Aug. 19 while the medal matches are set for Aug. 20.