Rivermen rebound from Saturday setback to defeat Merchants

by Sam Laskaris

It didn’t take long for the Six Nations Rivermen to return to their winning ways. The Rivermen suffered just their second loss of the 2022 campaign when they were edged 5-4 by the visiting Owen Sound North Stars in an Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) contest on Saturday. The Six Nations squad hit the road less than 24 hours later and was able to defeat the Oshawa- based Merchants Lacrosse Club 12-7 on Sunday. The match was held at the Delpark Homes Centre in Oshawa.

With the win the Rivermen, who have just one regular season outing remaining, boosted their league-leading record to 13-2-0. The Merchants, who are occupying fifth place in the OSL standings, saw their mark fall to 4-9-1.

“It was a good team effort tonight,” said Rivermen coach Vince Longboat said. “The offence moved the ball well and the defence took care of business in our end.”

Longboat is usually an assistant coach with the Rivermen. But he handled the club’s head coaching duties on the weekend as Darcy Powless is in Birmingham, Alabama, serving as an assistant general manager with the Haudenosaunee men’s squad that is participating at the World Games. As a result, Sunday’s triumph signified Longboat’s first W as an OSL head coach.

Scott Del Zotto, who netted a hat trick and also had an assist in Sunday’s contest, said it doesn’t really matter who is leading the Rivermen.

“We have the same goal regardless of who is running the bench,” Del Zotto said. Most importantly, the Rivermen were able to pick up the two points and not fall into any sort of rut as the post-season is approaching. “We needed that,” Del Zotto said. “It was a good bounce-back game.”

Del Zotto said his teammates knew they would have to have a better start than they’ve had in recent matches. The Rivermen did just that, scoring the first three goals of the game on Sunday and taking a 5-1 lead into the first intermission.

“We had a great start to the game and carried that through three periods, something we have to do every game going forward,” Longboat said. Six Nations then took total control of the game outscoring the Merchants 7-3 in the middle frame to enjoy a 12-4 lead after 40 minutes. In the final period the Rivermen focused on their defensive play while the Merchants were able to score three more to make the score somewhat more respectable.

“I think their defence played us different in the third,” Longboat said. “And our guys were more playing to take care of our end.”

Goaltender Troy Holowchuk played his first game for the Rivermen and earned the win.

“Troy played well in net and made some great saves,” Longboat said.

Del Zotto also praised Holowchuk’s performance between the pipes. “He did a great job,” he said. “And he made some wicked saves.”

Meanwhile, Tye Argent, Wes Whitlow and Blayze Becker chipped in offensively with two goals each. For Becker, who spent the past season with the Six Nations Rebels’ Jr. B squad, it was his first game suiting up for the Rivermen. Tyler Brown, Leland Powless and Travis Longboat also scored for the Rivermen.

Six Nations’ final regular season contest will be this coming Saturday, July 16, against the Merchants. The game, which will be staged at the Six Nations Sports and Cultural Memorial Centre, will begin at 7 p.m.