Long playoff win drought against Six Nations ends
Alex Simmons nets four, in 8-7 win in Game 1 of series
Two thousand and nine.
Yes, that was the last time the St. Catharines Athletics defeated the Six Nations Arrows in a playoff game.
Enter Wednesday night, and Alex Simmons. Simmons scored four goals and added three assists and Nick Damude made 45 saves as the Athletics edged the Arrows 8-7 in Game 1 of their best-of-five Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League opening-round playoff series.
“This is great for the whole team,” said a beaten and battered Simmons minutes after the contest played at Jack Gatecliff Arena. “We haven’t won a playoff game in a while.
“I think for all of us this is huge, it’s nice to get the win.”
What made Wednesday’s victory even more impressive is the fact the A’s were down 4-1 in the second period.
“We started slow, but we know we’re going to start scoring goals,” Damude said. “We’ve gone on (scoring) runs before, we’ve been down multiple times, and I know we have a character group that’s going to come back.”
Said first-year head coach Steve Toll, who also joked about the lengthy playoff win drought St. Catharines had against Six Nations, “That might be my first win since 2009 against them, too.
“They (Six Nations) still have a great defence, and a lot of those guys have been around for three or four years and won two Minto Cups,” said Toll. “They play a very good defensive system, but I told the boys to stay focused, stay at the task at hand, and we just kept battling.”
Toll was again impressed with Simmons, but thought Damude was the difference.
“As good as Simmons was tonight, he (Damude) was my player of the game. He held us in when we needed it.”
After trailing 2-1 at the end of the first, the Athletics led 6-5 after 40 minutes of play.
The Arrows would tie things at seven, before Simmons’ fourth goal of the game at the 16:26
mark of the third period proved to be the game-winner.
“We knew coming into this game we were the better team, and just had to execute,” Simmons said.
“Thankfully, we did.”
Game 2 in the series goes Thursday night at Six Nations with the third game back in St. Catharines on Sunday. Game time is 7 p.m at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
“This city has been waiting a long time to have a lacrosse team to be excited about, and it’s awesome that the city has our back,” said A’s interim captain Alec Tamas.
“We just have to keep rolling, and stick to our game plan.”
A’s Acorns: Both teams were playing without their stars as Athletics captain Latrell Harris was in Israel playing for Team Canada at the World Field Lacrosse Championships … The Arrows Austin Staats, Jerry Staats, Tehoka Nanticoke and are playing for the Iroquois Nationals at the Worlds … Niagara IceDogs defenceman Liam Ham recorded two goals and two assists in just his third game of the season for St. Catharines … Wednesday’s win was the Athletics’ first playoff victory, overall, since 2010 … Six Nations outshot the A’s 52-48.
St. Catharines goaltender Nick Damude (39) under pressure from Six Nations in Jr. A lacrosse playoff action Wednesday night at Jack Gatecliff Arena in
Six Nations’ Tyler Fox-MacKenzie (81) defends against St. Catharines’ Alex Tamas (23) in Jr. A lacrosse playoff action Wednesday night at Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines.
St. Catharines’ Liam Ham, right, works toward the Six Nations goaltender. It’s been a long time since the A’s have had a playoff win against Six Nations. The A’s won 8-7.