Merchants register victory over defending league champions

By Sam Laskaris 

It’s still early on in the season but the Brooklin Merchants are proving they can play with the best of them.

The Merchants registered a morale-boosting 14-11 triumph over the defending Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) champion Six Nations Rivermen on Friday.

The Merchants posted the win after outscoring the Six Nations squad 4-1 in the final period of the match, held at the Luther Vipond Memorial Arena in Brooklin.

With the victory, the Brooklin club improved its record to 3-2. In the process the Merchants were able to hand the Rivermen, whose mark fell to 3-1, their first loss of the year.

“It was a great game tonight,” said Merchants’ coach Ryan Degerdon. “The kids, I’m going to call them kids because we had a young squad tonight, and they used their legs, they used their strength, they pushed the ball and they pushed the ball all night long.”

Photo by Sam Laskaris 

Since Merchants’ head coach Clancy Almas was unavailable to attend the game due to work commitments, Degerdon, who usually coaches the Brooklin defenders, was joined on the bench by Brooklin Lacrosse Club head coach Jason Crosbie, who primarily handled the team’s offence on Friday.

“Cros and me really went down on them,” Degerdon said. “We said let’s see what you guys have got in here. What are you guys going to do if they score the first goal? Are you going to hang your heads or are you going to come back at it? And the boys shut them down.”

The Merchants actually scored the first two goals of the game. The two clubs were deadlocked at 5-5 after the opening 20 minutes and 10-10 heading into the second intermission.

“We stressed in the third period you know what guys this is a character test,” Degerdon said. “It’s early in the season and let’s see where we’re standing at. We’re starting to build here. That’s all I wanted to see all year long – just baby steps and build it up.”

And that’s exactly what the Merchants have been doing. Friday’s outing came on the heels of a 12-11 overtime loss last Saturday against the host Owen Sound North Stars, who also have visions of challenging for an OSL championship this season.

“You could see each and every game the guys are coming more and more together and they’re playing more and more like a team,” Degerdon said. 

Parker Pipher, who had a seven-point performance including three goals for the Merchants, said his teammates were not intimidated knowing they were facing last year’s OSL champs.

He said the Merchants’ players knew what they had to do.

“Mostly just stick to our game,” Pipher said. “We know we have a bunch of dogs out there that are endless, tireless workers that do a good job with laying everything on the line. So, for us, the main thing was to go out there, play our hardest and the results would come.”

Friday’s match was a rather physical one. The Rivermen have had their share of success in recent years with their bruising and aggressive play.

“We told them this is the type of game they’re going to play,” Degerdon said. “Let them play that type of game, we’re going to play our game. And guess what? We came out on top today. Listen, it was a great game and we’re going to see them again down the road here. And it’s going to be another good game.”

Pipher was pleased his side was for the most part able to maintain its composure.

“It’s nice when we don’t have as many offensive penalties which we usually get or have had in the past couple of games,” he said. “We got rid of them so that was good to see. We stayed out of the box.”

Zac Carrigan had another big night for the Merchants as he racked up eight points, including three goals.

Devin Pipher and Daniel May added two goals each for Brooklin. Providing singles for the Merchants were Dylan Goddard, Ben McDonnell, Darren Elliott and Adam Smellie.

The Merchants are back in action on Monday, hitting the road to face the Oakville Rock. That match, which will be held at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, has an opening faceoff scheduled for 8 p.m.

The Rock, who have yet to play a game this season will host this year’s national Senior B tournament, the Presidents Cup, are expected to have a formidable lineup.

But Parker Pipher doesn’t anticipate his team will be unnerved by the Rock, especially after Friday’s W against the Rivermen.

“We’ve got a good group of guys in the room there,” he said. “So, it definitely is a bit of a morale booster. But with the boys we’ve got in the room, we’re ready every game, whether we’ve won the game before or lost the game before.”