The Six Nations Arrows successfully managed to defend their national Junior A lacrosse title.?
The Ontario-based Arrows captured their second consecutive Minto Cup crown on Saturday night with a 9-4 victory over British Columbia’s Coquitlam Adanacs. With the win, the Arrows took the best-of-seven series in six games.?
The Six Nations side hosted all of the matches in the national series at its home, the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Ohsweken.?Patrick Merrill, a pro player with the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), was brought in to coach the Arrows this season. ?
Despite the fact Six Nations lost several of its key stars from last year, the team’s brass was hoping to win another national title this season.?
“That was our focus from Day One,” Merrill said. “When I was brought in to coach this team they made it clear to me that was the expectation.”
?The 36-year-old Merrill never won the Minto Cup as a player. The closest he came was back in 2000 when he was toiling for the Ontario-based Orangeville Northmen. His squad was defeated in the national final by British Columbia’s Burnaby Lakers.
?“I truly believe the Minto Cup is the toughest trophy to win in this sport,” Merrill said. “The kids only have five years to win it. It is such a grind, such a battle and such a small number of games that you play in the season. It’s a pretty special accomplishment.”?
As a pro, Merrill has won three NLL championships with the Rock, in 2003, 2005 and 2011. He’s?also won the Canadian senior men’s title, the Mann Cup, four times, including in 2014 with the Six Nations Chiefs.
?Since he has been plagued by various injuries in recent years, Merrill opted to not play senior lacrosse this summer and coach the Arrows instead. He plans to play for the Rock during its 2016 campaign.?
The Arrows have now won the Minto Cup four times since becoming a Junior A club in 1990. But this marked the first time they captured the title on their home turf.?
“We just wore them down with our crowd and with the way we were playing,” Merrill said.?
The Arrows and Adanacs split the first four games of the series. Coquitlam won the series opener as well as Game 4.
?Merrill believe his side did benefit by playing in front of its boisterous supporters, especially in the final match of the series.
?“The crowd was awesome,” he said. “Being an elimination game in Six Nations, you couldn’t ask for much more. I think it took the wind out of their sails.”?
The Arrows were led by captain Brendan Bomberry, who had a team-high nine goals in the national finals. He added eight assists to finish with 17 points in six contests.
?Bomberry was selected as the tournament’s MVP and also was awarded another accolade for his character and leadership in the event. This marked the first time a player had won both awards.?
Jake Henhawk, the Arrows’ general manager, felt Bomberry was rather deserving of the accolades.?
“He was our captain and he led by example,” Henhawk said. “He scored big goals when we needed them. And he was very unselfish with his play.”?
Bomberry though didn’t have much time to savor his accomplishments. On Sunday he left for Colorado for his second year at Denver University. He was a member of the Denver Pioneers who won the NCAA Division 1 field lacrosse title earlier this year.?
Henhawk also heaped plenty of praise on several others.
?“Our defence was relentless and we got world class goaltending (from Doug Jamieson) in the series,” he said. “Dougie won the Minto Cup for us this year.”