Merchants’ season concludes after visiting Rivermen register win in decisive series game
By Sam Laskaris
It was certainly not the ending the Brooklin Merchants had hoped for.
The Merchants were keen to advance to this year’s Presidents Cup, the national Senior B lacrosse tournament, which begins Aug. 27 in Oakville.
And it appeared the Brooklin squad just might do that, especially after it took a 2-1 lead in its Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) best-of-five semifinal series against the Six Nations Rivermen.
- Photo Sam Hossack
But it was the Rivermen who ended up prevailing in the series. For starters, Six Nations edged Brooklin 13-12 in overtime in Game 4 on Sunday.
And then the visiting Rivermen registered a 7-6 win in the fifth and deciding game of the series on Tuesday. That match was staged at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre in Whitby.
- Photo Sam Hossack
“Getting a couple of chances at it and not pulling it off really sucks,” said Merchants’ head coach Clancy Almas. “But that’s a veteran team with experience. They’ve been to a Presidents Cup before and that shows here.”
The Rivermen placed third at last year’s national tournament in Edmonton. The Six Nations club had also won the Presidents Cup in 2019.
Almas believes better days are ahead for the Merchants’ franchise.
“The speech I gave the guys was about the Edmonton Oilers before they went on their run,” he said. “They had to fight through the (New York) Islanders. Same as Michael Jordan had to fight through the Pistons before he finally pulled through. And this is the start of building something if they all come back. We have a very young squad and it’s very talented. I’m pretty proud of where we ended up this year.”
The Merchants certainly did not get off to an ideal start in the series-clinching match. Brooklin trailed 4-0 after the first period.
“There’s a lot of emotions coming into Game 5 because we lost the last game and the things that have happened in the previous games,” said veteran Brooklin defender Adam Perroni. “It was a big one for us and I think we were a little hot in the beginning and we just needed to settle down and play our game. I think that’s what hindered us in the beginning.”
The Merchants did mount a comeback and trailed by two goals, 6-4, heading into the second intermission.
Brooklin also had the last possession of the game but was unable to score a tying goal with its goaltender Lukas Coote on the bench, pulled in favour of an extra attacker.
Perroni said his teammates are obviously disappointed with how the series concluded. But it won’t be long before their thoughts turn to the 2024 campaign.
“We’re sombre for a bit,” he said. “But we’re going to put it behind us and we’re going to focus on next year and come back even stronger.”
Zac Carrigan and Tristan Hanna netted two goals each for Brooklin on Tuesday. Riley Curtis and Parker Pipher had the other Merchants’ goals.
With its victory the Rivermen will now square off against the Oakville Rock in a best-of-three OSL championship series.
As the host, the Oakville club has an automatic entry into the Presidents Cup. And since the OSL is allowed to have two entrants at the national tourney, the Rivermen will also take part simply by advancing to their league final.