by Ted Montour

It's about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Ottawa to Syracuse, depending on how long it takes to clear U.S. Customs, but for me, this trip to Onondaga Nation Territory and this year's Iroquois Nations Cup tournament, takes me a lot further than several hundred miles.

The Onondaga Nation holds the 'chair' of the Haudenosaunee, Iroquois, Confederacy, as the Keepers of the Council Fire. And, the Onondaga people still reside in their traditional territory. My Iroquois ancestors, lead by my great-great-great-great grandfather, Chief Joseph Brant, were displaced from their homelands following the Revolutionary War, in which a majority of their leaders and warriors fought with the British (my Delaware, Lenni Lenape, ancestors escaped from the Trail of Tears and eventually reached Canada as well). Brant negotiated a promise from the British to grant him lands in what remained of British North America after the war, and this of course became necessary when the Colonies defeated the Red Coats.

Upper New York State has, for as long as I can remember, held a special fascination for me, and the simple act of exiting I-81 and pulling into the parking lot of the beautiful new Tsha' Hon'nonyen'dakwha' (where we play games) arena, instilled in me a profound sense of "coming home", which was enhanced when my wife and I learned that the Onondaga Nation Art, Music and Cultural Festival was taking place the same week-end as the Nations Cup. What better setting could there be, I thought, for all of us to gather to enjoy the Creator's Game.

This year's tournament, featuring eight teams in two divisions, opened Thursday night, September 19. The Frog Pond Maulers (Frog Pond being a 'neighbourhood' of the Six Nations Grand River Territory, from which a goodly number of the players come) entered two squads, Maulers I made up of a mix of senior / pro players and juniors and the Maulers II team who were predominantly juniors. There were two entries from Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, the Kawenoke Eagles and the Warriors, two teams from the Cattaraugus Reservation, Newtown Golden Eagles and 438 Rez Runners, the Tonawanda Braves and the host Redhawks.

The Six Nations players are drawn from the Junior B Red Rebels, Junior A Arrows, Senior Major Chiefs and Senior B Stars, all of which play in the Ontario Lacrosse Association. The Akwesasne junior players come from the OLA Junior B Lightning, the senior players from either the Senior Major Thunder, or the Iroquois Lacrosse Association, a senior B loop in eastern Ontario, Quebec (Kanawake), and North-east New York. The Newtown Golden Eagles (Cattaraugus), Tonawanda Braves and Onondaga Redhawks play in the Can-Am Lacrosse League, another senior B league that is more Am than Can these days, since all of the teams are from New York. The Redhawks also drew from their excellent OLA Junior B squad. The second Cattaraugus entry was the 438 Rez Runners. The number 438 is a reference to the State highway that traverses the reservation.

The Cup

While the round robin series ran more or less true to form for the first two days, there were some surprises. The Kawenoke Eagles, featuring current and former NLL pros Clayton Barnes, Jon Tarbell and Kariwate Mitchell, lost the first two of their three games, to Frog Pond II and Onondaga, due in no small part to a short bench, and were effectively eliminated by Friday night. The two-time defending champion Warriors, also former President's Cup (Canadian Senior B) winners, lead by last year's Ottawa Rebel scoring leader Mike Benedict Jr. (since traded to the New Jersey Storm) and coached by his father, Ontario Hall of Famer Mike Benedict Sr., also ended up with two losses and missed the semi-finals.

The Maulers I and II both won their pools, and the cross-over playoff seeding pitted Frog Pond I against the host Red Hawks, and Frog Pond II versus the Golden Eagles (another former President's Cup winning side).

The first semi-final, Maulers II vs. Golden Eagles, saw the young Frogs make rather surprisingly easy work of their older and more experienced opponents. The Frogs' smothering defence and Jake Henhawk's (Albany Attack) clutch 'tending held the Newtowners to 3 goals, while their run-and-gun offence scored 9, including 4 from Tom Montour (Six Nations Arrows and Toronto Rock - 7th round - 2003 entry draft pick) and 2 apiece from Dallas Squire (New Jersey Storm) and Nick Davis, frustrating the Golden Eagles to the point where they lost two players to ejection pursuant to a good tournament rule: fight, or in one case head-butt, and you are out of the tournament.


The Redhawks faced Maulers I, carrying the hopes of the predominantly home crowd for their boys to make it into the final. The hosts kept it close for two periods, but the Frog Ponders' multiple offensive weapons powered them through the final frame to an 11 - 7 win, behind 3 goals from the Toronto Rock's Kim "Kimbo" Squire and 2 from Rochester Knighthawk Cory Bomberry.

In the afternoon consolation game to decide third place, Newtown prevailed over Onondaga 11 - 7, lead by Wes Jackson with 3 goals and Mike Stevens with 1 goal and 6 assists.

Great music at the festival

The Championship game was a match-up between the age, experience and guile of Maulers I and the youth, legs and enthusiasm of Maulers II. Age, experience and guile prevailed, as the young Frogs bowed 11 - 9 in spite of another outstanding performance from goalie Jake Henhawk. Kimbo Squire lead Maulers I with a second consecutive hat-trick, and Cam Bomberry (New Jersey Storm) added a deuce. The youngsters got 2 goals each from Dallas Squire, Tom Montour and Vern Hill.

Hanging out and shooting at the outdoor box

Post-game presentations included four individual awards, and First and Second All-Star Team selections, in addition to the Nations Cup itself.

The Gaylord Powless Memorial Trophy, for the Most Sportsmanlike Player, went to Newtown Golden Eagles goal-tender Clint Jones.

The Frankie Benedict Memorial Trophy, for the Best All-Round Player, went to Kyle Jamieson of Maulers II (and the Columbus Landsharks).

The Peter Burns Memorial Trophy, for the Top Tournament Scorer, was awarded to Cory Bomberry of Maulers I, on the basis of his 10-goal, 14-assist performance.

The Belson "Tiger" Tarbell Memorial Trophy, for the Outstanding Goaltender, was convincingly earned by Frog Pond II's Jake Henhawk.

First All-Star Team Second All Star Team
Jake Henhawk (goal) - Maulers IIClint Jones (goal) - Golden Eagles
Cory Bomberry - Maulers IScott Thompson - Warriors
Kim Squire - Maulers IMike Stevens - Golden Eagles
Tom Montour - Maulers IICam Bomberry - Maulers I
Tim Bomberry - Maulers IKariwate Mitchell - Eagles
Al Jones - RedhawksA.J. Bucktooth - Redhawks

Joe Fee and Ted Montour do the webcast play-by-play

Personal Tournament Highlights Congratulations and many thanks to Shirley Hill and the Onondaga Athletic Club, and to Marshall Abrams, Gewas Schindler and Bob Tarbell and the all of the Arena and Tournament staff and volunteers.

Alf Jaques carves a lacrosse stick

Next Year's Iroquois Nations Cup Tournament will be on my home turf, the Six Nations Grand River Territory in southern Ontario, with the 2004 event scheduled for Cattaraugus.


September 19, 2002