By Darryl G. Smart
As the buzzer went on Sunday at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, Six Nations Arrows head coach Stew Monture, president Cody Jamieson, and vice president Randy Staats had a ton to be proud of.
Unfortunately for the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League team, a 9-4 loss to the St. Catharines Athletics in their final game was the end of the road that saw the upstart group finish the mini season at 4-4.
Despite the record, this group has a ton to be proud of, starting from scratch when the OJLL announced that they would have this mini season.
“I think the group we put together to help this year is spectacular, and some of the best people around for the job,” Jamieson said last week. “And moving forward, it wouldn’t be the same if our boys didn’t have a junior A team in the OLA competing with the likes of Orangeville, Peterborough, Brampton. All of the historic franchises, and I put Six Nations there with them.”
“Starting from scratch, things like the logo, and picking a whole new team, was a lot of work but worth it,” Staats said. “We did as much as we could during the lockdown. All we could do is roll with the punches.”
He said as the players got together for tryouts and then finally sessions in the Iroquois Lacrosse arena, the Arrows were slowly building momentum.
Heading into the second week of action at the TRAC, the Arrows were in the thick of the West Division playoff hunt, thanks to its 3-1 record.
On Saturday, a four-goal run led the Brampton Excelsiors to a 6-5 win.
Riley Miller and Marshall Powless gave the Arrows a one-goal first period lead, Seth VanSchepen scored the lone goal for the Excelsiors.
Ross Hill added to the Arrows lead in the second period, before Pent Eistrat and Bo Bowhunter exchanged goals.
But then the Excelsiors went on a run thanks to a pair from John Vezina, with singles by Oriole Mandeville and VanSchepen.
Davin Bomberry scored late for the Arrows, but that’s as close as they got.
Next up Chayton King put on an offensive display, scoring four times to lead the Arrows to a 11-9 win over the Oakville Buzz.
Bowhunter and Hill each scored two goals, while Brendan Anderson, Zach Miller and Powless pitched in with one goal each.
Chris Weier and Curis Goodard led the Buzz with two goals each. Will Sheehan, Tyler Ford, Edward Ou, Brian Jackman, and Michael Jackman all scored one each.
On Sunday, a seven-goal outburst in the second period was enough for the Burlington Chiefs, who came away with a 14-7 win.
Powless led the Arrows offence with three goals, and King netted a pair. Nonkon Thompson and Bowhunted also scored goals.
Jason Knox and Matt Andersone each scored hat tricks to lead the Chiefs, while Sam English and Braedon Saris added two each. Scott DelZotto, Luke Pilcher, Jacob Saunders, and Timon English all scored one each.
In their final game of the tournament, the Athletics pulled away early in the third period to beat the Arrows 9-4.
Kesler Skye, Zach Miller, Hill, and King all scored for the Arrows.
Brayden Mayea led the Athletics with three goals, while Sam LeClair and Liam Ham each netted a pair. Alex Simmons, and Jackson Webster added one goal.
“We competed and that’s all you can ask for,” Staats said. “I think we surprised people, starting from scratch and competing like we did. It’s a credit to those young men for working so hard. If we won that last game against St. Catharines, we were in the playoffs. If we lost, we were out. To get into a position like that is all you can ask for.”
With the Arrows finished for the OJLL season, they are also saying goodbye and good luck to six graduating players – Bowhunter, Dustin Hill, Thompson, King, Daris Anderson, and Owen Hill. With only six players graduating, the base has been created for the future of this team.
“We’re excited to compete for a Minto Cup in the future, we’re excited about our team’s future,” Jamieson said. “We have a lot of exciting players coming up. We’re just going to keep building.”