Mohawks, Rebels stretch Western final to the limit
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – Bring out the clichés, they’re all applicable now – and they’re applicable for both the Elora Mohawks and the Six Nations Rebels.
The Mohawks and Rebels are to meet Monday night in the fifth and deciding game of the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League’s Western Conference final after Six Nations posted a 12-9 victory Sunday night at the Elora and District Community Centre to square the series at two wins apiece.
“We’ve just got to reset,” Elora captain Klayton Hoelscher said. “We know we can win down there. Tonight was obviously tough. We really wanted to do it in front of a packed crowd here in Elora, but we’ve just got to put it past us and get ready for tomorrow because it’s a do-or-die.”
It’s always said that a series-clinching win is always the toughest win to get in any series.
“We knew it was going to be the toughest one to get and we came out on the wrong side of it tonight,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said.
Six Nations scored seven times in the third period Sunday to claim the win. The teams were tied 3-3 at the end of the first period and Elora led 6-5 after the second. However, the visitors were up 9-7 by the eight-minute mark of the third thanks to netting three goals in a span of four minutes and seven seconds after the Mohawks had grabbed a 7-6 lead.
The Mohawks outshot Six Nations 50-47 in the match while Keegan Thomas stopped 41 shots for the win for Six Nations and Kells blocked 35 in the Elora net.
Biggest change from the previous three games of the series was that the Rebels drastically cut down on their penalties. They were whistled for 10 minutes in Game 4 while Elora was called for 12. In the first three games of the series, Six Nations had averaged 37 minutes in penalties per game, 20 more than the Mohawks.
“That makes a difference because we don’t get our power play out as much, but I think tonight was just some simple mistakes mentally that we don’t typically make,” Hoelscher said. “I think that’s kind of what cost us the game, but I think we’ll be mentally ready tomorrow.”
“They were under control and at time we weren’t,” Goss said. “We made some mistakes and that cost us.”
The Rebels also changed their attack a little as they advanced the ball down their left side of the floor almost as much as the right side Sunday. Previously they had attacked on the right considerably more than the left.
“We noticed early in the game that one of their better offensive players (Chayton King) wasn’t playing tonight and we knew they were going to make some adjustments,” Goss said. “We knew they were going to be a little bit different and we were good for two periods, but the third period was a little disappointing.”
A fourth-year member of the Rebels, King had 70 points and 96 penalty minutes in 20 regular-season games this season and 24 points and 21 penalty minutes in nine playoff games, but only three points and four penalty minutes in the first three games of the Western final.
Cole Spear, Kurtis Woodland, Zach Cameron and Josh Rex each scored twice for the Mohawks while Nathan Bolger had the other goal. Hoelscher assisted on three of the goals while Spear, Tyrus Rehanek and Dean Sealey each had two assists and Woodland, Cameron and Hyatt Welsh had one each.
Austin Giles and Kahn General scored twice each for Six Nations and Gates Abrams, Riley Miller, Kobe Whitcomb, Justin Martin, Bo Peltier, Waylon Abrams, Daylen Hill and Tanner Baldin netted single goals. Whitlow and Garret Vyse-Squire each collected four assists while Gates Abrams had three, Miller and Whitcomb had two each and Giles, Justin Martin, Peltier, Mason Hill, Thomas and Jesse Longboat had one each.
“I think it’s just a matter of putting this game behind us and moving on and doing everything we can because we can’t leave anything on the floor,” Hoelscher said.
Both teams head into Monday’s game knowing the Mohawks are capable of winning in the ILA. They took Game 3 there 10-9 Friday night.
“We’ve done it before, but that’s not going to make it any easier,” Goss said. “We were in a good spot coming here up 2-1 and we’ve definitely made it a little harder on ourselves.”
Good thing for the Mohawks is that with the deciding game set for Monday night, there isn’t much time to dwell on Sunday’s loss.
“It’s perfect,” Goss said. “We get to bounce right back. This will be fresh in our memory and it’s something that we don’t want to feel again. We’ve got a lot of guys in that room that don’t want tomorrow night to be there last game.”
Game time Monday at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena near Hagersville is 8 p.m.
Winner of the game advances to the league final against the Green Gaels of Clarington who won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final 9-6 over the Akwesasne Indians Sunday afternoon.