Mohawks top Regals, but both teams pleased with opener
Rob Massey, Guelph Spots Journal
GUELPH – For an opening game, both the Elora Mohawks and Guelph Regals left the Victoria Road arena Friday night feeling good about themselves.
The veteran Mohawks claimed an 11-6 win over the host youngsters, a margin inflated by three unanswered goals by Elora in the final 10 minutes of the Ontario junior B lacrosse league season opener for both teams.
“We’re always happy with a win,” Elora coach Kyle Goss said. “We did a lot of good things, but but we definitely have a lot to work on, too. That’s good.”
“I was pleased with the whole game,” Guelph coach Ken Hastie said. “That was the first game we played as a team this season. We had an exhibition game scheduled, but it got iced out so for us to come out and actually get down – they scored five goals in the first period, but we won the second — and for us to play like that, it was a good game. We played well.”
The Mohawks were happy that they recovered from a weak second period and put on that late surge to add to the gap.
“The last 10 minutes, we worked well,” Goss said. “We tired them out a little bit and we took it to them a little bit. At the end of the day, we take away that second period that we had and it’s a totally different game.”
The Regals were happy with the way things looked for a first-time out and were also pleased with the way they responded to a slow first period.
“Even the third period, we got a little bit away from it and the refs got to us a little bit, but we finished the game strong,” Hastie said. “We look on to the next one.”
Elora led 5-1 at the end of the first period and 7-5 after the second.
“The boys came out, we battled hard and we faced a better Guelph team than maybe we thought they were,” Elora captain Klayton Hoelscher said. “The boys responded well. We got a wakeup call in the second and the boys really put together a full 20 in the third and we came back to make a statement moving forward.”
Of course, both know they have things to work on, but they’ve established a base.
“We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box,” Goss said. “That second period was a lot of special teams, a lot of four-on-four and we have to be a little smarter with the ball. We’ve got to take care of the ball and not try to force stuff. Not everything has to be pretty.”
“I think it’s just coming together as a team,” Hoelscher said. “We’ve got a couple of new faces and we’ve got some familiar faces. The biggest thing for our team is family and keeping that together. For us, if we keep working hard in practice on the little things and if we keep focused on getting better every day, every shift and every period, that’ll make a big difference in our season.”
“We’ve got to work on our defence and just make sure our guys build their confidence,” Hastie said. “On our offensive end, the guys were working the system, they were throwing picks, they just weren’t throwing them hard enough. They were a little unsure of themselves. First period, a lot of stiffness, nerves. That will all work out. As they play more, they’re going to become more fluid. If they stick with the system, they’ll be fine.”
The Mohawks are a little older squad than the Regals and the Elora side is looking for big things this season. They have 10 players who turn 21 this year, three who turn 20 and two who turn 19. By comparison, the Regals have six who turn 18 this year and seven who turn 17.
“There’s no question we have a veteran club, but we need to play like a veteran club,” Goss said. “We almost need to take a page out of Guelph’s book and play a little bit like they did with a bit of effort and that grit.”
“We have two senior players and that’s it,” Hastie said. “We’re very young, but we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
Last season the Mohawks had 21 players suit up for at least 10 games while the Regals had 16. Of those players, Elora had 15 in Friday’s game and Guelph had 11.
Nathan Bolger and Cole Spear scored twice apiece for the Mohawks while single goals were added by Kurtis Woodland, Owen O’Donnell, Ryan Mueller, Klayton Hoelscher, Hyatt Welsh, Josh Rex and Dean Sealey. Welsh had four assists while Hoelscher had three, Sealey, Woodland, Rex, Ryan Buller and Spear had two each and Jack Francis had one.
Jayden Bushey and Shane Halliwell collected two goals apiece for the Regals while Cohen Campbell and Reed Kurtz added single goals. Liam Holwell and Kurtz each had three assists and Luke Kivell had one.
Elora outshot the Regals 62-46 and went 3-for-10 on the power play while Guelph went 2-for-7.
Matt Humphrey, in his fifth season with the Mohawks, picked up the win in net while the 6-foot-5 Kent Bremner, who played a little over one period for the Regals last season, took the loss.
“There are a lot of question marks coming into the first game, especially about the team you’re playing,” Goss said. “I don’t think our guys were prepared for what Guelph was going to give us. I was sure what they were going to give us, but I don’t think our guys really were. Guelph’s a good, young lacrosse team and we weren’t prepared for that at the start. We learned a good lesson and we also turned it around at the end, so that’s a good sign.”
Next game for the Regals is Sunday when they’re to host the London Blue Devils (0-2-0) at the Victoria Road arena at 3 p.m.
The Mohawks, who start their season with three consecutive road games, are to play the Windsor Clippers (1-0-0) at Windsor Saturday at 7 p.m.