Saturday night was a resounding victory for the Iroquois Nationals against a spirited effort from the USIL’s Developmental Team. The 24-11 victory — the first ever on their home turf — gave the Iroquois their third straight Bowhunter Cup. “It was really nice to keep the Cup. We take a lot of pride in keeping that Cup where it belongs. So until next year, we can enjoy it,” said Iroquois and Rochester Knighthawks standout Cody Jamieson, who won the trophy that includes the names of his cousins “Bow” and “Hunter.”
Iroquois blew open the contest by ending the first half on a 7-0 run, which was punctuated by a Jamieson’s “Air Gait” goal to close the second quarter. The Nationals fought off early pressure from the Americans and went to work in the second quarter, outscoring their counterparts 11-3.
“They tied it up 1-1, and then we focused on things we needed to work on and keeping it simple,” said Craig Point. “Then they started going in net. We just kept going with what was working. We came out kind of flat; they scored like five goals. We just realized we needed to be a little tougher. Everybody realized what they were doing, just picked it up, and played a little bit smarter, played a little bit meaner.”
Playing at their practice facility, the three Rochester Knighthawks’ players were right at home at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Jamieson and Point responded with three goals apiece, while Johnny Powless recorded six points (2+4) in his second Bowhunter Cup. Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, who helped establish the international event, was in attendance and pleased with the effort from the three Rochester players.
“First of all, they had a great time out there. They were moving the ball well, they were shooting well. Craig is probably in the best shape of his career, and Johnny is getting better and smoother all of the time. Cody is getting better and better, too,” said Styres.
“They’re younger guys and they’re just getting better. I don’t think a day goes by where they don’t learn something,” he added.
Powless extended the Iroquois’ run to 8-0 just over two minutes into the third quarter. Point and Roger Vyse helped set up the goal. The assist was one of a game-high 10 points for Vyse, who led the Iroquois with four goals and six assists.
The Americans battled back, scoring five of the game’s next six goals to trim the deficit to 16-10. Ethan Farrell was the catalyst as he notched two of his team-high three goals and set up Kyle Smith’s marker at 9:59. Greg Rogowski followed with his second of the quarter off a pretty cross-crease feed at 10:32 to make it 16-10.
“We seemed to find a spark and some energy as they were in a bit of a lull, and then we just piled on for a couple of minutes there,” said USIL Head Coach Randy Fraser, who has over a decade of playing experince in the National Lacrosse League. “That was probably our best run of the game. We played solid defense four or five shifts in a row, and we converted three possessions in a row.”
The Iroquois would counter with four goals of its own with Vyse and Vaughn Harris notching third-quarter goals. Jamieson started the fourth with a goal that sounded familiar to the Knighthawks’ fans in the crowd, Jamieson from Point and Powless. The goal completed the hat trick for the back-to-back NLL Championship Game MVP. Next it was Point’s turn to score his third of the night as he struck at 1:11. With the score 20-10, the Iroquois side finished off the game with fourth straight goals after Farrell’s third of the game for the Americans.
The USIL team also got two-goal efforts from Matt Hickman and Brandon Dube, who surprised the host team by taking a 2-1 lead. Brandon Miller, a 19-year-old prospect from Syracuse, was tough in goal as the Iroquois led just 4-2 after the first. Joe Evans made some impressive saves in the second half, including a toe-save with his left foot against Tom Montour on a breakaway.
“We just wanted to compete and prove that we could run with the guys and play with them,” said Farrell, who spent his rookie season in the NLL in Philadelphia. “I think we proved that at times tonight. It’s a positive step for USA and how far box has come.”
Despite the final score, Fraser described the game as a “success” for the USIL Development Team.
“We really went into this with the goal of giving this group of players an opportunity, an opportunity to play at this level, to show what they can do at this level, and to gain some really good experience. All of those things we accomplished,” said Fraser.
The Bowhunter Cup was the fourth title of 2013 for Jamieson and Point, and the third for Powless. All three won their second straight Champion’s Cup in May with the Knighthawks. In September, they raised their first Mann Cup with the Six Nations Chiefs. Point and Jamieson also combined to win the Nations Cup. On Saturday, the Bowhunter Cup became part of their collection.
“At the end of the day, winning is winning,” said Jamieson. “It doesn’t feel good to lose. I like this winning thing.”
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