Mohawks assured of another home game after Game 2 victory
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – At the very least the Elora Mohawks earned the right to play another home game in their Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League Western Conference final with the Six Nations Rebels.
Sunday night in front of a packed crowd at the Elora and District Community Centre, Mason Noble scored an unassisted goal with 27 seconds to play to lift the Mohawks to a 7-6 victory and tie the best-of-five series at a win apiece.
“That was a huge goal,” Noble said. “The D was pretty tired, they were rolling a lot. We worked hard and we got the turnover on a loose ball. I just picked it up and I’ve got a set of wheels on me I guess. Welshy (Hyatt Welsh) was busting off the bench there on a two-on-one. We had a couple of those in the game and I shot and missed, but Welshy was yelling ‘shoot.’ He had the confidence in me and I let it go. It was just a lucky shot, honestly, and it was a great feeling.”
After coming away without a goal on two similar situations earlier in the game, it might have been surprising that Noble shot this time, too.
“I honestly don’t think Welshy wanted the ball so I let it go,” Noble said. “The boys have seen me in warmups and stuff fire those. I practise those a lot and it paid off this time, for sure.”
With five goals in the 25 games he’d played this season before Sunday’s game, Noble might not have been picked by too many people as the player who would score the winner.
“Nobes has scored some big goals for us this year,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “He wasn’t the guy we thought would do it, but we’ll definitely take it.”
Six Nations had taken the opener 11-6 Friday at Hagersville thanks to five goals in the third period.
“We were in a good state of mind (after the second period) both nights,” Goss said. “We knew we were in a position that we could take a lead and we could win the game in both games.”
After dropping the opener, the Mohawks couldn’t afford to lose Game 2, too.
“Definitely not. Nations is a hard place to play in down there. They always pack the barn and they have a great squad,” Noble said. “We have another home game now, Game 4, and the boys are looking to fly. We have to win one down there, hopefully Game 3. If not, Game 5.”
“We knew it was a must-win game,” Goss said. “We knew it wasn’t the end of the world if we lost, but it was pretty well close. We knew that we had to win and we knew going into that third period that we had to win a period and the boys did it.”
Dean Sealey and Ryan Mueller hit for two goals apiece while Zach Cameron, Klayton Hoelscher and Noble had the other goals. Single assists were awarded to Sealey, Cameron, Hoelscher, Noah Lebar, Bo Columbus, Hyatt Welsh, Brett Harrison and Cole Spear.
Tanner Baldin and Gates Abrams scored twice apiece for Six Nations while Riley Miller and Mason Hill fired home one goal apiece. Justin Martin, Wes Whitlow and Daniel Hill each had two assists while Baldin, Miller, Austin Giles and Kobe Whitcomb had one each.
The Mohawks outshot the Rebels 50-39 while Landon Kells made 33 saves to get the win in the Elora net. Daniel Hill made 43 saves, but took the loss for Six Nations.
The loss was played in front of what was easily the largest crowd of the season at the Elora arena and many of the home fans were wearing black T-shirts that had ‘Go Hawks’ in bold yellow letters on the front.
“The fans are huge and the T-shirts were huge,” Noble said. “Every goal, every hit, every loose ball, the crowd was right there behind you. The atmosphere was unbelievable.”
“That was huge,” Goss said. “We’ve been preparing our guys for that and knowing how much support they’re going to get and how cool it was going to be when they walked out on that floor and see everybody. They were huge tonight and I can’t see it being any different next Sunday.”
The setback was the first loss of the playoffs for the Rebels as they had swept the St. Catharines Spartans in the conference quarter-finals and the Orangeville Northmen in the conference semifinals. They had also lost once during the regular season.
Third game of the conference final is slated for Friday at 8 p.m. at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville while the fourth game is to go Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Elora and District Community Centre.
“We have to practise Wednesday and tweak a few things,” Noble said. “Nobody’s ever perfect. We gave up six and we only got seven and we always have something to improve.”
“We can’t go into the game intimidated,” Goss said. “We need to play our game in their arena. It’s a very tough place to play. They’re a very good team and in their own barn they’re a very good team. We just need to not get beat mentally, play a good game and see how it goes.”
The winner of the series advances to the best-of-five league championship against the Colby Hancock Memorial Trophy winner as the Eastern Conference champion. That best-of-five series between the Green Gaels of Clarington and the Akwesasne Indians is tied 1-1.