Merchants downed by visiting North Stars in home opener

By Sam Laskaris

The Brooklin Merchants were back in the confines of their original home.

But the visiting Owen Sound North Stars spoiled the party, downing the host Merchants 16-7 in an Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) match held Friday night at the Luther Vipond Memorial Arena in Brooklin.

The Merchants had spent the past half dozen years playing their home contests at a couple of different Oshawa facilities before returning to the Luther Vipond rink this season.

(Photo of ceremonial opening faceoff, including family members of the late Don (Sully) Vipond, and members of previous Merchants' teams).

The Merchants, who had downed the host Ennismore James Gang 14-10 in their season opener on May 6, were playing catchup against the North Stars on Friday night.

The Owen Sound squad scored the first three goals of the contest and led 6-1 after the opening 20 minutes. The North Stars were then up 10-6 heading into the third and final period.

Despite the fact the Merchants were still very much in the match going into the third, the Owen Sound team cruised to victory after outscoring the hosts 6-1 in that final period.

“I think we all played hard as a team,” Eddie Renaud, who led the Merchants’ attack with three goals, said of his team’s efforts in the concluding period. “We had our chances to put in, which we didn’t. They had their chances and they just succeeded on their chances, whereas we didn’t. It was still a battle. It was still a good game. It was fun to watch. And it was fun to play.” 

For Renaud, who also netted a hat trick in the Merchants’ season opener, this is his first year with the franchise. He had previously played in the OSL with the then named Oakville Titans, who have been rebranded as the Oakville Rock. But he did not figure into the Rock plans in 2022 and did not play in the league.

“I’m just fortunate enough the Merchants picked me up for this season,” Renaud said. “I’m excited to be on board and excited to play.”

Besides participating in the Merchants’ first game back at Luther Vipond, Friday was meaningful for Renaud for another reason.  “For me it was extra special to shoot against (Owen Sound goalie) Craig Wende who I had played with before,” he said. “It was kind of fun playing against a friend.” Renaud though would have preferred it was his current club that emerged victorious. 

“Obviously it’s not the result we want,” he said. “But it’s still early and we have a lot of development going and we’ll be pretty lethal by the end of the year.”

The Merchants are still waiting for several bodies – many of which are still finishing off their collegiate seasons south of the border – to join the team. Renaud added the North Stars were indeed a formidable opponent. “They’re a big physical team,” he said. “We just didn’t measure up right now but we’re going to get another chance at them.”

Also scoring for the Merchants on Friday were Justin Bragg, Nolan Rutty, Zach Jouri and Devin Pipher.  The Merchants’ next game is Sunday on the road against the Clearview Crushers. That match, which will be held at Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, has an opening faceoff scheduled for 6 p.m.