Mohawks a win away from berth in Western final
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – The Elora Mohawks were certainly ready for their Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League conference semifinal playoff match with the Wallaceburg Red Devils Saturday night at the Elora and District Community Centre.
The Mohawks scored three times in the first three and a half minutes of the game on their way to a 14-6 victory and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
“We just came to the rink prepared,” Elora defender Kevin Hutchison said. “We got that first goal (27 seconds into the game) and we just kept going with it. We know that if our offence is on, our D guys are going to be on, too. We just feed off each other.”
“We were prepared tonight, there’s no doubt,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “I could see it in our guys’ eyes that we were ready for this. We lost one last Friday night at home and we didn’t want to do that again. The boys were definitely prepared for this one.”
The hosts were ready for the start of each period as they scored eight seconds into the second period and 78 seconds into the third.
“They don’t need a whole lot of rip-roaring speeches at this time of the year,” Goss said. “We’ve got a veteran group and they have a job that they want to get done. We go one period at a time. We reset every time we come in here and we go into it like it’s 0-0 and we did a good job of that tonight.”
“We’ve got studs up there,” Hutchison said of Elora’s offence. “Whenever they put up a big number like that, I’m not surprised at all.”
Elora led 7-2 at the end of the first and 10-5 after the second.
The Mohawks’ defence has been the key for Elora’s success this year and has helped put them in a position to win a second playoff round. They ended a seven-year drought of first-round playoff losses with their Western Conference quarter-final series win over the Niagara Thunderhawks last month.
“The big thing is that we’re a family in here,” Hutchison said. “We do everything together and we just ride off each other.”
Any thoughts the Red Devils had of a comeback in the third didn’t last long and then they ran into a rash of penalties – the final seven of the game – to end up playing shorthanded most of the period.
“I don’t fault them at all for getting upset,” Goss said. “It’s playoffs and emotions are running high. We just need to stay out of it and if our power play can go out there all the time, then that’s perfect.”
Ryan Mueller connected for five goals for the Mohawks while Kurtis Woodland scored four times. Klayton Hoelscher had two goals and Cole Spear, Bo Columbus and Mason Noble added a goal apiece. Spear had five assists while Hyatt Welsh had four, Woodland, Hoelscher and Tyrus Rehanek had three each, Brett Harrison had two and Mueller, Columbus and Josh Rex had one each.
Corey Lucier collected two goals and three assists for Wallaceburh while other goals were scored by Tyler Brown, Tanner Cole, Vern Hill and Cory Burr. Brown and Kyle Dawson each had two assists and Cole, Cecil Jacobs and Marshall Powless had one each.
The Mohawks, who tried to kill off most of the third by running the clock down, outshot the visitors 52-44 and went 3-for-12 on their power play while Wallaceburg went 1-for-5.
Landon Kells made 38 saves in net to get the win for the Mohawks while Brayden Bell took the loss for Wallaceburg after giving up six goals in the first 16:12 of the game. He was replaced by Jacobs who had 30 saves.
Elora can put an end to the series with a win at the Wallaceburg Memorial Arena Sunday. Game time is 4 p.m.
“We’ve got to come in and be prepared. That’s a wild barn down there,” Hutchison said of Sunday’s game. “The atmosphere is crazy. We just have to come out and do what we did here tonight. Our D’s got to be rocking, our O’s got to be rocking and I think we will.”
“We just have to regroup and keep the same mentality,” Goss said. “They have a good arena there, it’s a cool atmosphere there and they play well there. We don’t really need to change a whole lot. We just need to stick to the game plan and keep our heads because if we get sucked in, then we’re in trouble.”
If Wallaceburg wins Sunday, the fifth and deciding game of the series is set for Tuesday at Elora beginning at 8 p.m.
The winner of the series is to play the Six Nations Rebels in the conference final. Six Nations swept the Orangeville Northmen 3-0 in the other conference semifinal.