FROG POND MAULERS
IROQUOIS NATIONS CUP 2004
ALL ABOUT FAMILY
by Ted Montour
Last year, the Iroquois Nations Cup was hosted by the perennial champion Frog Pond Maulers from Six Nations Grand River Territory in southern Ontario, my home turf, and it was all-homies affair, as the Maulers took the title. It also marked the return to Nations Cup play of the Squamish Nation of British Columbia, as represented by the North Shore Indians.
This year I had not really planned on attending, on the understanding that the 2004 event was planned for Cattauragus, in southwestern New York, and just a little too far for a long week-end away from home at the start of the school year. However, that all changed with the announcement last month that the tournament would return once again to the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, little more than an hour away from my Ottawa home, on the St. Lawrence River, next door to Cornwall.
This year's event was hosted by the Akwesasne Lacrosse Hall of Fame Committee, and sanctioned by the Iroquois Lacrosse Association. Eight teams would compete for the Nations Cup, in two divisions:Eastern Door Pool
Pinewoods Smoke (Cattauraugus)
Medicine Men (Six Nations)
Frog Pond Maulers (Six Nations)
Western Door Pool
Seneca Rez Runners
Six Nations Arrows Express
North Shore Indians (Squamish)
While there were no entries this year from the Onondaga Nation or the Mohawks of Kahnawake, players from both communities were scattered among the other teams, notably the North Shore Indians, who supplemented their line-up with a half-dozen of Kahnawake's best.
As the round-robin, which began Thurday night, September 16, progressed, the contending teams sorted themselves out, and I had a chance to catch up on family lacrosse history and goings-on with my cousins Joe Montour and his wife "Net", who had come to see their various grand-sons play. The best-known of these is goaltender Ken "Monster" Montour of the NLL, whose rights currently reside with the Arizona Sting. They also told me that grand-daughter Katie Smith is off to Ohio University, largely off her performance with the Under-19 Women's Team Canada. Another grand-daughter, and sister of Katie, happens to be the wife of the Marshall Abrams, Syracuse All-American and defensive stalwart for the Rochester Knighthawks.
Meanwhile, back at the tournament, the crowds waxed and waned according to the participation of the two home teams, and, at the end of the round-robin, both Akwesasne teams finished in second place in their respective pools, to Six Nations teams. The cross-over semi-finals, which started Sunday morning, saw the Akwesasne Braves take on the Frog Pond Maulers, followed by the Akwesasne Eagles and the Six Nations Arrows Express.
The Maulers, coached by Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Famer (and former OLA junior team-mate of mine) Richard "Boss" Squire, had seven Squire's in the line-up, including "Kimbo" of the Knighthawks, and father Daryl Sr., at 47 the oldest player on the floor (with the oldest stick, a venerable Brine High Wall), running with Daryl Jr. There were also three Bomberry's, including Cory of the Sting. They started "Monster" in goal, and his play was matched in this contest by the Braves' Daylan Adams, who guards the cage for the OLA Jr. B Lightning.
The Braves had their own brother acts, including Kariwate and Rewaras Mitchell, and speedsters Evan and Garrett Cree. The Maulers opened the scoring just 39 seconds in, but any hope of a high-scoring affair soon ended with the 2-1 first-period score. Both sides played ferocious defence, and the two tenders exchanged sparkling saves. And so the remainder of the game went, with a single tying goal by the Braves in the second stanza, and three outstanding efforts in the third: the Maulers' Tom Montour, who had run like a deer the entire game, scooped a loose ball off of a busted power-play, and back-handed a bouncer to Adams' far top corner at 7:20. Then off the ensuing face-off, the Braves "bad boy" Ryan Oakes finished off a three-way passing play by burying one behind "Monster". It fell to the Maulers' Tim Bomberry, better known for his bruising defence for New Jersey and Buffalo, who had had several shots from his woodie go hilariously astray earlier in the game, to pot the winner with less than five minutes remaining: Maulers 4, Braves 3.
The semi-final between the Akwesasne Eagles and the Six Nations Arrows Express produced more scoring, but the outcome was far less in doubt, as the Arrows took a 4-1 lead in the first period and were never headed.
The Arrows were the surprise of the OLA Junior A circuit this summer, with a young squad under first-year head coach Randy Chrysler, an assistant with the Bandits in the winter. They finished the regular season in fourth place, then proceeded to knock off fifth-place St. Catharines, first-place Orangeville, then second-place Whitby in the Ontario finals. They went to British Columbia as the Ontario representatives in the Minto Cup tournament (the historically Ontario vs. B.C. best-of-seven series has been replaced by a four-team tournament, now including a team from Alberta), which was eventually won by the Burnaby B.C. Lakers.
The Arrows Express line-up included several former Arrows, notably Delby Powless Jr., attackman at national champion Herkimer Junior College and Rutgers University, who has returned home to complete his undergraduate studies at Ontario University Field Lacrosse Association championship-winning Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Powless would finish as the Tournament's top scorer, with 11 goals and 13 assists in 5 games, and the Arrows Express prevailed 10 - 6 over the Eagles, but the Nations Cup went once again to the Frog Pond Maulers. While the final was by no means anti-climactic, it was, like the Maulers' semi, low scoring. Frog Pond's Cory Bomberry scored 2, including the game winner with 13 seconds remaining in regulation time. 5 - 4 Maulers, who, it was announced earlier in the day, will host the 2005 Iroquois Nations Cup at Six Nations.
Brothers and cousins off the floor, team-mates or adversaries on the floor, this gathering always produces crowd-pleasing box lacrosse, and, as I can personally attest, unique and life-affirming reunions with family in the stands. They buy good groceries for this get-together too --- corn soup, barbecued chicken (picture dozens of fans eating a barbecued chicken dinner in their laps while following the game action), and the souvenir swag (I picked up a dandy Iroquois Nationals cap and a beautiful Tournament golf shirt) has become my annual birthday gift from my dear wife Wiz.
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FINAL ACTION VIDEOS
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SPECIAL: A Look At the Mohawk International Stickmaking Shop
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