Last Night: Johnny Powless has Gordie Howe hat trick, Seth Oakes 5 goals in Six Nations win over Peterborough

Johnny Powless is too talented to ever be an enforcer, but the kid showed last night that he can toss with vigor. Here he's pictured throwing down with Barrie's Mac Tomkinson last season. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
Johnny Powless is too talented to ever be an enforcer, but the kid showed last night that he can toss with vigor. Here he's pictured throwing down with Barrie's Mac Tomkinson last season. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

Johnny Powless is known primarily for scoring goals and setting them up. He did a bit of each last night but made his biggest mark in the Six Nations Arrows 13-6 win over Peterborough by igniting a line brawl with the Lakers near the end of the second period. That’s right. Johnny Powless, who had a grand total of 14 penalty minutes as he scorched the OLA Junior A league for 65 goals last summer, earned 34 last night. He took four—two for roughing and two for unsportsmanlike conduct—at 10:23 of the period when he ripped off an opponent’s helmet and tried to get a fight going. Then he earned the rest with 1:21 to go in the frame when he touched off a firestorm that included a tackle that would do a linebacker proud and a pulled goalie throwing punches from the bench. More about the game and the hullabaloo after the jump.

First, the game details. It was close through a fast-paced first period in which Peterborough actually had a slight edge in the play. Six Nations led 3-2 but the Lakers rang four or five shots off posts. The Arrows third goal came on a gorgeous pass from Quinn Powless to Vaughn Harris, who took it in stride on top of the crease and in one motion fired a behind-the-head shot to the top corner for a power play marker. Peterborough tied it up just 27 seconds into the second when Dan Michel somehow squeezed a shot near side through Warren Hill, who stood in his position on the post for a few seconds and looked for the gap that allowed the ball in.

From that point, though, the Lakers couldn’t penetrate the Arrows defence and were too content to settle for long underhand shots that Hill handled with ease. Six Nations was able to work the ball inside and exploited any openings Peterborough gave them to score the next five goals. Seth Oakes had a huge night for the Arrows, scoring five goals. Harris scored a pair and six others had singles, while Kyle Isaacs had five assists. Michel scored a pair and Jeff Swift had a goal and three helpers for the Lakers.

Peterborough was clearly outmatched with about nine players out of the lineup, either at school, injured or with other commitments. That led to the call-up of some junior C players, including Broadie Birkhof, who played a major role in the fracas late in the second. Birkhof and Arrows captain Derek Searle were in the penalty box for a half minute earlier when Powless managed to start a tussle. A couple of other fights broke out and things started getting messy, with all the players on the floor closing in to the area along the boards where the fighting had migrated.

Then, Alex Martin left Six Nations’ bench and started walking across the floor to the area of the melee. Birkhoff, seeing that the numbers had become uneven and apparently feeling the need to balance them out, raced out of the penalty box and delivered a diving tackle to the back of Martin that felled the burly Arrow like a lumberjacked tree. Searle was quick to follow from Six Nations’ penalty box. Powless kept trying to make his way back into the scrum but was repeatedly warned away by the refs.

So he strolled along the boards to the Lakers bench. He was jawing with several players and eventually a Laker grabbed him by the shirt. Powless started throwing punches and, when the other Arrows realized he was engaged at the bench, the whole melee migrated 20 feet to join in. Connor Danko, who had been pulled after allowing eight goals, was announced as receiving a fighting major and game misconduct for hurling fists from the bench, although those penalties don’t appear on the game sheet. Birkhof and Searle were each announced with three game misconducts. Powless and Danny Vyse for Six Nations, Eric Shewell and Brad Baker for Peterborough, were each announced with two. In the end, the teams totaled 304 penalty minutes on the night, with 150 for the Arrows and 154 for the Lakers. The refs sent the teams to the dressing rooms to get everything sorted out and crew chief Michael Sullivan was replaced as he had received a cut to the head during the kerfuffle.

For his part, Powless said “the first little scrum was my emotion, but the second one, I don’t know why. That’s just lacrosse sometimes.” He said there was nothing specific Peterborough had done, he just felt like going. As for why he headed to the Peterborough bench, he said “I don’t really know what happened. Just, sometimes things happen.” Powless, sporting a mouse under his right eye, was his usual happy, smiling self post-game and said he was enjoying being back playing with the friends he’s played most of his life with.

The third period was fairly anticlimactic. Six Nations had just 10 runners left so tried to slow things down, while the Lakers just couldn’t mount a comeback. The Arrows were content to throw the ball the length of the floor towards the empty net and take a bit of a rest when Peterborough pulled goalie Rob Crews for an extra attacker. On one such play, defender Wenster Green was awarded a goal when Crews jumped onto the floor before anyone came off as Green’s long shot bounced wide of the net.

Arrows coach Marshall Abrams said “it was a tough, physical game tonight. That’s a Six Nations-Peterborough game right there.” He said they have their full lineup back for the season and feels like they are coming together well. Hill in particular was excellent, making 48 saves including one truly spectacular one. “That one save was a cross-crease save where he hit it with his stick and grabbed it with his hand,” Abrams said.

Overall, Abrams said it was a great game for his team once they got settled down after facing early Lakers pressure. “Peterborough’s a tough team. They pressure the ball really well and they create a lot of turnovers so we had to make a lot of adjustments to break their press there in the beginning. They came out and they were all over us.”

Lakers assistant coach Dan Carey said his team needs to stick to the game plan even when they’re shorthanded. “We have a system offensively and defensively and there have been stretches where we’ve been really successful by doing that and we get in trouble when we don’t, when we get away from it. No matter who we have in our lineup we stick to the same game plan.”

Carey said the effort was there but they had mental lapses all over the floor that hurt them. “We had times where we were moving the ball and moving our feet and created some good opportunities. We’re missing some key guys offensively.” Among those not available for Peterborough were Turner Evans, Matt Crough, Zach Herreweyers, Daryl Waud and Josh Currier, arguably their top five offensive players. But Carey gave credit to the Arrows while saying he felt that even with the players they had in the lineup last night they should be able to win that game if they stuck to their systems and reduce the mental errors.

Both the Arrows and Lakers are now 5-2 and part of a four-way tie for first place with Whitby and Kitchener-Waterloo, although the Warriors have played only five games while the Braves have played eight.

OLA Junior A

Six Nations 13, Peterborough 6 (box score) (Peterborough Examiner)
Burlington 8, Kitchener-Waterloo 7 (box score)
Toronto Beaches 11, Barrie Lakeshores 8 (box score)

OLA Junior B

Guelph 11, Orangeville 10 (box score)

Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at stamplax@hotmail.com.

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