They’ve met in the gold medal game of all three World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. On Sunday afternoon, Team Canada and the Iroquois Nationals renewed their rivalry in an exhibition game in front of about 7,000 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal with Canada holding on for a thrilling 12-11 win. Stephan Leblanc led the way for Canada with 4 goals and an assist. Dan Dawson and Jordan MacIntosh each scored twice, with Dawson adding 3 assists and MacIntosh 2. Jordan Hall scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and also had 3 assists. Jeff Shattler led Iroquois with 2 goals and 4 assists. Vaughn Harris, Roger Vyse and Johnny Powless each scored twice while Randy Staats added a goal and 2 helpers.
Canada pulled out to a 4-1 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Leblanc, one from MacIntosh and one from Ryan Benesch, who also chipped in 3 assists on the day. Tom Montour got the momentum swinging back the Nationals’ way when he stole a ball in the defensive zone and raced down the floor against MacIntosh one-on-one. Montour planted his foot and spun to the forehand side. He looked for just a split second like he was going to pull the ball out, but instead dove to the far side of the crease and tucked it home past Matt Vinc. Jeremy Thompson scored off the ensuing faceoff then Shattler buried a power play goal on an overhand shot from the top to make it 4-4 after the first quarter.
The teams traded goals in the second quarter, including a spectacular play by Powless on which he spun off tight coverage from Brett Mydske and dove across the crease to score at 7:25, giving the Nationals a 7-6 lead. There was no scoring for a long stretch. Cory Vitarelli evened things up when he took a pass from Benesch on the lefty side of the crease and tucked the ball over a sprawling Mike Thompson to make it 7-7 at the half.
The third quarter was all Canada. The Canadians outshot the Iroquois 14-3 and scored the only two goals of the period, both coming from the stick of Leblanc. He made the first happen on a nice individual move, driving to get a step past Brandon Francis then bouncing a shot past Angus Goodleaf, who had come in to play goal for the second half. The second was a power play marker on which Dawson made a perfect feed from the slot to a cutting Leblanc, who one-timed it home from the crease. Goodleaf had to be sharp to keep Canada from extending the lead further.
They did extend the lead early in the fourth quarter, though. Dawson flipped a pass to Kevin Crowley, who drove to the net to finish. Then Dawson took a perfect pass in stride from Leblanc and buried to make it 11-7. The Iroquois finally broke a 27-minute scoreless stretch when Vyse faked a shot from the high slot, took a couple more steps in and put home an overhand shot.
Powless scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 7:53 then set up Vyse with a perfect behind-the-back pass down the lane. When Vyse put it home, the Iroquois had pulled back to within a goal at 11-10 with just under four minutes to play.
Hall would then score the eventual game winner with 2:05 remaining, cutting through the slot with speed and taking a perfectly timed pass from Crowley that he quickly redirected into the net. The Iroquois got one back on a great individual effort by Harris with 59 seconds left. He fought his way out of the corner and did a crease dive to tuck the ball in, pulling the Nationals within a goal at 12-11.
Iroquois put plenty of pressure on Canada in the final minute and thought at one point they had tied the game up. Vyse took a hard shot from the slot with 15 seconds on the clock. Vinc stopped it but stumbled backwards after making the save, knocking the net well back from the goal line. The ball bounced towards the goal and was stopped again by Vinc. It was close but didn’t appear to cross the line and the officials clearly signalled no goal. Canada took control of the ball and killed the remaining few seconds to complete a tight and exciting contest.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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