Six Nations supporting their boys en masse

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

At about noon today, there will be a mass exodus from the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford.

All the traffic will be heading toward Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, where the 5-1 Iroquois Nationals will face 6-0 Canada in the final of the inaugural world indoor lacrosse championship (1:30 p.m, Sportsnet).

In lacrosse-crazy Six Nations (population 12,000), fans have been waiting for years to see their beloved Iroquois players compete for a world box championship.

Linda Powless, editor of the Turtle Island News, a national aboriginal weekly based in Six Nations, expects at least 2,000 Six Nations residents will make the half-hour drive to Copps.

\"In the coffee shops, in the arena, people are talking about it,\" said Powless, who anticipates a large parade and reception in Six Nations if Iroquois wins. \"People are rushing out to Hamilton to buy tickets. Everybody\'s going.\"

The Iroquois territory consists of several different communities (Akwesasne near Cornwall, Onondaga, N.Y., and Seneca Nation, N.Y., among others). Six Nations is home to many of the team\'s top players, including Rutgers University standout Delby Powless, a second cousin of Linda.

\"Guys like (Iroquois lacrosse legends) Cap Bomberry and Ross Powless have always believed us young boys from the (Reserve) didn\'t get enough respect in box lacrosse,\" Delby Powless said. \"They\'ve always said if we get a shot at the best in the world, we can handle ourselves.

\"There are a lot of little kids draped in the Iroquois flag and we\'re doing this for them. They look up to us like you wouldn\'t believe. I know that because it wasn\'t long ago I was cheering my head off for (Iroquois and Six Nations teams). This game means more than anything right now.\"

About 7,000 tickets were sold for the game as of last night.

Canada beat Iroquois 15-13 in round-robin play. The toughest decision of the tournament for Canadian coach Les Bartley came yesterday when he picked six scratches -- injured defender Jim Moss (minor concussion), defender Cam Woods, forwards Shawn Williams, Derek Malawsky and Blaine Manning and goalie Anthony Cosmo.

The goaltending matchup pits Canadian Bob Watson (Toronto Rock) against Derek General (New Jersey Storm). Canada entered the tournament as the heavy favourite, but Bartley doesn\'t think the high expectations will affect his team.

\"I feel comfortable with this group of guys,\" he said. \"We have something to prove and if the guys are focused, I think we can win.\"


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