Mohawks run away from Regals in opener
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – Both the Guelph Regals and Elora Mohawks came away from their Ontario junior B lacrosse season opener Saturday night at the Elora and District Community Centre knowing they had varying amounts of work to do.
Aided by a stretch of eight consecutive goals that started in the first period and ended in the third, the Mohawks ran to a 13-6 victory. Elora led 5-4 after the first and 9-4 after the second.
“Our mentality is that we’re going to try to be as close to perfect as we possibly can and we’re never going to be satisfied,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “We’re going to be very happy with what we do but we know we can always do something better. The guys are on board with that and we’re just going to keep working. It’s a process for our club and that’s the way we’re going to look at it.”
“We’ve got a young team this year, there’s been a lot of turnover from last year,” Guelph general manager Matt Pelkey said. “That being said, we’ve still got a lot of guys away at school. A lot of first-year call-ups are playing their first ever junior game this year. There are a lot of things to work on, a lot of kinks to work out, but overall these guys battled until the end. Other than 10 minutes in the second period, it’s a whole different game.”
The Regals scored a pair of goals 20 seconds apart before the game was four minutes old to open the scoring on the season. The Mohawks responded with three in a row and never trailed the rest of the way.
“I think our speed took over a little bit,” Goss said. “We really want to work on pushing that ball and in the second period we were able to do that. We played a very, very good second period. We shut them down and they didn’t score one single goal in that second period and that was huge of our defence. We were able to take it to them and use our speed.”
“When you have a team that young and with a lot of inexperience, you’re going to get that,” Pelkey said. “It’s growing pains. We’ve got two weeks off here to get some nice, hard practices in and I think it’ll be a lot different next time we play these guys.”
Both teams are going with younger squads this season. The Mohawks had a lineup that featured six returnees who played at least 10 games with them last year while the Regals had two who played that many games with them in 2016.
“It’s very different as far as players,” Goss said. “I think the Elora Mohawks always has that mentality – the same mentality in the dressing room no matter what year it is. But we’re very different. We have about 12 new players on this team so these wins are going to keep being huge for us and for our guys to gel and mold together.”
However, eight of Elora’s rookies played together with the Fergus Thistles in junior C last year while the majority of Guelph’s rookies are up from the minor lacrosse ranks with only forward Winston Brown moving over from the junior C Wilmot Wild and he played six games with the Regals last season. For Guelph’s rookies, they need to learn to be a little more vocal on the floor.
“A lot of stuff with these young guys is they don’t know how to communicate (on the floor),” Pelkey said. “They’re all very quiet out there. Getting them to talk a lot more is something we really need to work on.”
The Regals are hoping to get five veterans back in time for their next game – defenders A.J. Skirving and Daniel Nakatsu and forwards Zach Sanders, Jake Hazelton and Jack Burke.
“That will make a huge difference,” Pelkey said. “They’re all roster guys, guys who we are expecting to play a big part on our team. That will make a huge difference out there, especially on the back end because Skirving and Nakatsu are two veteran guys. They’ll be controlling that back end, getting a lot of talk back there and helping the younger guys ease into the league.”
Eric Egan had three goals and four assists to lead the Mohawks Saturday night while Hyatt Welsh had a goal and six assists.
“We definitely didn’t know what to expect, but we played with heart and heart wins every time,” Egan said. “The key was just to stay pedal to the medal, don’t give up. We know we have a lot of energy on this team so if we keep going, we can outwork the opponent and eventually bury them.”
Dawson Bolger also had a hat trick for the Mohawks while Ryan Mueller, Owen O’Donnell and Ryan Buller each had two goals. O’Donnell and Dawson Bolger each had two assists and goaltender Matt Humphrey, Justin Beaulieu, Blake Lewis, Buller, Cody Stannard, Nathan Bolger and Kevin Hutchison had one apiece.
Riley Matthews scored twice for the Regals while single goals were netted by Ben Heidecker, Quenton Begin, Cohen Campbell and Cole Cook. Luke Kivell collected four assists while Matthews, Liam Holwell, Begin, Kent Radbourne and Mitch Taylor had one apiece.
Both teams had their power plays working, the Regals hitting for four goals on nine power plays and the Mohawks getting three goals on six power plays. The hosts also had two shorthanded goals.
The Mohawks outshot the Regals 53-32. Humphrey picked up the win in the Elora net and Brady Wilson took the loss for Guelph.
Next game for the Mohawks is Saturday when they’re to play the Wallaceburg Red Devils at Wallaceburg while the next game for the Regals, who start the season with four consecutive road games, is April 27 when they’re to play the Orangeville Northmen at Orangeville.