Proud night for Iroquois, despite loss

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Residents of the Six Nations Reserve, near Brantford, will be talking proud this morning.

The same optimistic chatter will take place in Onondaga, N.Y., and the Akwesasne Territory.

Box lacrosse is king in the Iroquois communities and last night their team gave favoured Canada a scare at the inaugural world indoor lacrosse championship.

In a possible championship game preview, Canada pulled away in the third quarter and beat the Iroquois Nationals 15-13 before a sellout crowd of 3,823 at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium.

\"We\'ve got nothing to hang our heads about,\" said Iroquois goaltender Derek General, who had a spectacular 44-save performance. \"Canada is supposed to win this thing and we gave it a good shot.\"

With the United States short-handed because many of its top players are committed to a professional field lacrosse league, it would very surprising if Canada (2-0) and Iroquois (1-1) do not meet again in the championship game next Saturday at Copps Coliseum. That would be a dream scenario for tournament organizers as thousands of fans from Six Nations likely would help make the trek to Hamilton.

\"For us native boys to win this, it would be awesome,\" Iroquois forward Cory Bomberry said. \"The celebration would be great. Even if somebody wins at the peewee or junior-A level, it\'s always a big pleasure.\"

Tied 8-8 at halftime, the Canucks took control with a three-goal run that made it 12-9 in the third quarter. That really was the only weak stretch for General, who stopped three breakaway opportunities by Steve Toll.

\"I think anybody who watched the game would say (General) stood on his head,\" Canadian coach Les Bartley said. \"We out-looseballed them, we out-transitioned them, we had more power play opportunities than them. We pretty much outplayed them in every facet of the game, but it didn\'t really show on the scoreboard.\"

For the Iroquois team, a championship would be extra sweet. A sign reading \"Lacrosse is our game,\" was held high by an Iroquois fan Thursday.

\"When I was a kid going to school, I held my books in one hand and a lacrosse stick in the other,\" Iroquois general manager Rusty Doxtdator said. \"The stick is pretty much an extension of these guys\' arms and hands.\"

Neal Powless led Iroquois with three goals. John Grant paced Canada with three goals and five assists.

The tournament shifts to the Hershey Centre for games tomorrow and Monday. Canada faces the Czech Republic (0-2) tomorrow night at 7:30.


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