Mohawks prevail over Regals in battle of long-time friends
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
ELORA – A.J. Skirving and Curtis Webb are good enough friends that they posed together on the floor of the Elora and District Community Centre’s arena for photos shortly after Skirving’s Elora Mohawks had dropped Webb’s Guelph Regals 16-3 in Ontario junior B lacrosse league play Sunday night.
Skirving and Webb were long-time teammates until about a year ago when Skirving was dealt from the Regals to the Mohawks at the trade deadline. That put an end to about three and a half years together with the Regals following many years together in the Guelph Minor Lacrosse Association system.
“I don’t think it’ll ever feel normal (playing against Guelph),” Skirving said. “I played three and a half years for them. It’s fun to play against your old friends, but I don’t think it’ll ever feel normal.”
“It’s tough, playing with A.J. for all those years, my whole life,” Webb said. “I know a few of those guys, too, and it’s a weird feeling playing against them, but we tried to give them all we’ve got.”
This year their junior B seasons will be different. Skirving’s is likely to be longer as his Mohawks, at 12-3-0, have already qualified for the playoffs while Webb’s Regals, at 3-12-1, still have a mathematical shot at making the postseason, but time is running out.
Sunday, the Mohawks hit for five goals in the final half of the first period to make things comfortable on themselves. They led 7-1 at the end of the first and 12-2 after the second.
One-sided games that come while a team is making a push for the playoffs can be tough ones to play, especially against a close rival. You want to keep doing the good things that you’ll require when the playoffs begin, but you don’t want to embarrass your rival because these things do have a habit of coming back to bite you.
“They’re difficult, but at the end of the day we needed to have a good game,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “We were on a bit of a skid. I thought we worked hard, we did a lot of good things and we just need to buy in that that’s going to work on most teams still. Yeah, we did some good things.”
For the Mohawks the win put an end to a three-game losing streak, their only losses in league play this season.
“It was a good bounce-back game,” Skirving. “I think it was a good game for confidence and I think we can build off the good things we did and take them into the end of the season.”
After losing 8-6 to the Six Nations Rebels in a game of then unbeaten teams at Elora May 27, the Mohawks were beaten 6-4 by the Orangeville Northmen in Orangeville Tuesday and 10-8 by the Wallaceburg Red Devils at Elora Saturday night.
“I think we’ve just got to be more focused and we’ve got to come ready to play and play our game,” Skirving said. “We can’t be worried about who we’re playing or where we’re playing or how the other team’s doing. We’ve just got to play our game.”
“It was definitely a tough week. It wasn’t what we wanted, but you can learn a lot of things from losing. We learned how to lose this last week,” Goss said. “Our mentality and keeping control of our emotions when we are down, I think we learned a lot from this last week and hopefully this game here was proof of turning the page a little bit.”
The Regals called up three players to be able to have 20 in their lineup Sunday.
“We’ve got a few injuries and a few guys missing and some other things. Some guys are just away right now. We’re just piecing guys together and guys are battling through injuries while playing so it’s kind of tough,” Webb said. “The guys who are here, we want to play. We want to be better. Tonight wasn’t our best effort, but we’ll try to come back roaring on Friday night.”
Ryan Mueller struck for five goals for the Mohawks while Cole Spear and Klayton Hoelscher had four apiece and Josh Rex, Owen O’Donnell and Kurtis Woodland also scored. Hyatt Welsh assisted on eight of the goals and Woodland had five assists, Spear four, Rex three, Hoelscher, Skirving and Tyrus Rehanek two apiece and Jonah White, Mueller and Mitch Taylor one each.
Riley Matthews, Callyn Martin and Jayden Bushey scored for the Regals with assists going to Colin Matthews with two and Caleb Commandant and Reed Kurtz with one each.
The Mohawks outshot the Regals 54-35 and went 4-for-5 on their power play while Guelph was scoreless on three power plays.
Matt Humphrey made 32 saves for the win in net for Elora and Cole Martin made 38 saves in the loss for the Regals.
With two weeks to go, both teams have similar schedules to wrap up the regular season. The Mohawks are to play the London Blue Devils in London Thursday night, then finish with four in a row at home, all with 7 p.m. starts – Saturday against Owen Sound North Stars (5-9-1), Sunday against Orangeville Northmen (9-5-0), June 16 against Welland Generals (1-14-0) and June 17 against Owen Sound.
“I think that’s good going into the playoffs, especially if we finish in a place we want to finish in and get home rink for the playoffs,” Skirving said. “We can get used to winning at home and protect our barn.”
The Regals have four games to go, all to be played at the Victoria Road arena. They’re to host Niagara Thunderhawks (6-9-0) Friday at 8 p.m., Owen Sound Sunday at 6 p.m., Hamilton Bengals (10-5-0) June 15 at 8 p.m. and Windsor Clippers (11-3-0) June 17 at 3 p.m.
“We’ve got to come out better, come out quicker and have a little fire in us, a little more intensity – just play harder defence,” Webb said. “Tonight, some of the guys got right on top, we weren’t really giving them enough. When we’re at home, it’s our home so we’ve got to defend the fort.”