Six Nations down host James Gang

by Sam Laskaris

The Six Nations Rivermen did a bit more than just win another game on Saturday. The Rivermen defeated the host Ennismore James Gang in an Ontario Series Lacrosse contest 14-4. Despite having five regular season matches still remaining, with Saturday’s triumph, staged at the Robert E. Young Recreation Complex in Ennismore, the Rivermen also clinched themselves top spot in the regular season standings of the six-squad OSL.

Six Nations is sporting a perfect 11-0 record. The Rivermen are seven points ahead of the second-place Owen Sound North Stars (7-5-1) who have just three games left in their schedule. None of the other four teams in the circuit are capable of catching the Rivermen either. Technically, the Oakville Rock, who have a 5-5 record could conceivably end up in a tie with the Rivermen for top spot, but in order for that to happen the Rivermen would have to lose all five of their remaining games and the Rock would have to win their final six contests.

Considering the way Six Nations has dominated most of its games this season, the chances of that happening are … well, one would probably have a better chance of winning the jackpot in a lottery. Even if that unlikely scenario of having the Rivermen lose all of their remaining games while the Rock win theirs were to happen, Six Nations would still end up being awarded top spot. That’s because the Rivermen have already won two of out the three scheduled matchups between the two rivals this season.

“They were short players,” Six Nations defender Mike McLaughlin said of the James Gang, who had 12 runners and a pair of netminders dressed for Saturday’s contest. “So, we were able to play well in transition and score off those chances.” Vern Hill was the Rivermen player who most capitalized on Six Nations’ solid transition play. “We got four transition goals from Vern who is a wizard on the break,” McLaughlin said.

Rodd Squire and Jordan Goddard also shone offensively. Both players registered a hat trick.

“They each scored a bunch on the right side of our offence,” McLaughlin said. Meanwhile, Travis Longboat also popped in three goals for the Rivermen. 

Daylen Hill, who suited up for his first contest with the Six Nations squad this year, also scored a goal. Dylan Sprentz earned the starting assignment for the Rivermen between the pipes and was credited with the 'W.' 

Rivermen head coach Darcy Powless said he wasn’t aware beforehand that his club would guarantee itself a first-place regular season finish with a win against the James Gang.

“I’m happy for the players,” he said. “I didn’t know until (team president) Jeff (Powless) said it afterwards.” Powless said his team does not look too far ahead. “We just approach it one game at a time,” he said. “We focus on our team and our job every game and work hard every practice.”

McLaughlin was also pleased to hear that Saturday’s victory guaranteed his club home-floor advantage throughout the OSL playoffs. “Nothing bad about having home floor,” he said. McLaughlin, however, said his club’s focus now turns to its next outing. “On to the next one.” 

Six Nations’ next match is scheduled for this coming Thursday, June 30. The Rivermen will host Oakville in that game, which will be held at the Six Nations Sports and Cultural Memorial Centre. The opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m.