Canada rolls past Iroquois

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:08 AM ET

Hat tricks from Gary Gait and John Grant Jr. paved the way for a 12-8 Team Canada win over Iroquois Nation on a TD Waterhouse Stadium carpet hot enough to spread asphalt yesterday.

There was a definite feeling the Canadian squad was saving itself to focus on today's game against the United States in round robin play. "I hope we weren't," said Team Canada head coach Frank Nielsen.

The blazing sun that beat on players and about 2,000 spectators at the world lacrosse tournament was an energy zapper, well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, grounds crew said. Frequent timeouts called to keep the players hydrated robbed the game of much momentum.

The Iroquois Nationals kept the game close even though they were down 9-2 at the half and 10-3 after the third quarter. Just when Iroquois seemed to be catching up Team Canada scored to stifle some of the momentum.

"Gait and Grant can turn it on and score a goal when the situation presents itself," said Nielsen. "We played a very sound first half and weren't as sound in the second. Our defence played way too much defence.

Iroquois coach Mouser Henry said it was a game of momentum swings. "When we were on a two- or three-goal roll we were pumped," he said. He pointed to a Canada goal scored immediately after an Iroquois shot appeared to have gone in just inside the base of the Canadian goal post and bounced out. It was ruled not a goal and play continued down the field. The Iroquois protested.

"Our mental aspect changed from concentration on the game to the referees," Henry said.

Another shift was when Canadian goalie Chris Sanderson made a gasper of a save and Team Canada raced down the field with Billy Dee Smith finishing to make it 6-2 Canada.

Henry said the referee's slashing call wasn't what they were used to and that upset some of his troops. However, it seemed to affect Team Canada in the last quarter, he said, because "they were arguing among themselves."

"We'll get better as the tournament goes on," said Henry. "We're going to start filling the net."

Sanderson in net for Canada and Marty Ward in goal for Iroquois were particularly sharp, keeping it a low-scoring affair.

Canada's other scoring came from Stephen Hoar (2), Taylor Wray, Colin Doyle and Gavin Prout.

Iroquois scoring came from a three-goal performance by Neal Powless and singles by Roger Vyse, Delby Powless, Scott Burnam, Matt Alexander and Kent Squire.

Nielsen said Canada will have to play its "A game" today against the U.S. at 4 p.m. at TD Waterhouse Stadium at the University of Western Ontario. "They are the world champions and they are the best at every position and every location. You can't go against them one-on-one. If you beat them it will be with good ball movement and crisp passes to go into the openings."

CANADA 12

IROQUOIS 8


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