As the first of only two games on Wednesday, the Onondaga Nation Arena packed out for a double-header, starting with Canada taking on their final Blue Division opponent, England.
Canada did as Canada does right off the opening draw. Ryan Benesch and Curtis Dickson both capitalized on one-timers in the first minute of the game, putting them up to an early 2-0 lead.
Shawn Evans sold a high check to the officials that resulted in England’s John Beadle catching a 2 min illegal cross-check, which was killed off successfully after a few rips and a diving attempt from behind by Superman Curtis Dickson.
Big Dhane Smith, Adam Jones, Stephan Leblanc and Benesch again all buried their shots to wedge a 6 goal lead going into the 2nd quarter. England was playing the best defense they could muster to keep the Canadians to only 6 in the first 15 minutes of play.
The English never even wondered toward the crease as the Canadian defense executed a lock down zone, keeping any of the Brits far away from the goal all period long.
30 seconds into the second quarter, Benny earns his hat trick on a lightning fast attack on net. The refs tried to calm the English coach by letting him know that Benesch had the ball in the net before he ever crossed the crease line. The English didn’t buy it and the frazzled bench translated into a quick face-off violation, giving Canada another possession.
Not that it mattered much anyway, the draw circle was completely controlled by Canada all night long with quick sweeps out to the wingmen.
Waking up the dormant crowd, England’s Cole Shafer took a huge rip from top left, sending a missile on a b-line for top corner. The great vision on the shot and awareness from Nate Clare got England on the board for the first time.
Trying to keep momentum, Sam Clare pushed a quick breakaway that only resulted in a confident save from Brandon Miller. Dhane Smith killed England’s vibe with a quick transition goal after quick up and down play.
An English cross check caught Benesch high on the crease. Although Tony Joseph thwarted Benny’s goal attempt, he was forced to sit 2 for the high hit. Benny stayed hungry for goals but was stoned by b twice to kill the power play, both shots coming in the final 30 seconds of the PP.
Cole Shafer continued to work hard for England and the result was an electrifying behind the back goal after catching a ridiculous feed that had no business reaching its target. The display of athleticism got the crowd on their feet and although there were way more Canadian fans in the Onondaga Nation Arena, the cheers were all in favor of the Englishmen.
Brad Self’s breakaway goal was buried over Rose’s left shoulder for Canada’s tenth goal of the game, followed quickly by a shorthanded goal from Shawn Evans after Kyle Rubisch was sent packing for a 2 min roughing minor.
Following his release, Steve Priolo connected with Rubisch on a big time cherry pick to send us into halftime at 12 to 2.
The real MVP of the game was hands down goaltender Nick Rose. Rosey faced 42 SOG in the first half, while is team only managed to land 6 on Miller. 30 saves is a lot to ask of the Toronto Rock tendy, but Rosey handled the order with poise. It’s the crowd’s treat to watch him face a peppering by Canada and maintain composure and continue to swat away the big saves to keep his men from losing all hope.
The third quarter was nealry silent from the Candians, only 3 goals were scored over the 15 minute span.
Smith, Dickson and Evans all furthered their stats by burying one a piece. The most exciting points of the quarter came from a roughing call on Dan Coates for tossing bodies to the floor.
The final quarter of play saw a goaltending change from England. Canada acknowledged that the backup Eliot Pugh was severly underpadded for high level box alcrosse as he appeared to be wearing smaller, hockey uppers which left him swimming in his jersey. I give a ton of respect to Canada for placing the shots on net with accuracty and not just peppering the life out of the under-protected youngster.
Benesch scored two more goals in the 4th to bring his game total 5. Jordan MacIntosh and Dan Coates won all but 3 draws the entire game, giving possesion after possesion to the Canadians.
Cole Shafer got off a team-high 11 SOG in the game, but only got two goals to drop all night long.
The clock was run out by long and calculated possesions by Canada and they only shot when Pugh was leaving enough of a gap to bury the shot without shooting a hole through the kid.
Photo Credit: Brian Delumpa / LaxAllStars.com