Long play­off win drought against Six Na­tions ends

Alex Simmons nets four, in 8-7 win in Game 1 of se­ries

The Niagara Falls Review - - Sports - ROD MAWHOOD Spe­cial to St. Catharines Stan­dard

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.

JULIE JOCSAK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

St. Catharines goal­tender Nick Da­mude (39) un­der pres­sure from Six Na­tions in Jr. A lacrosse play­off ac­tion Wednes­day night at Jack Gate­cliff Arena in

St. Catharines.

JULIE JOCSAK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

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.

JULIE JOCSAK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

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.

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