Special to The Lake Report
For a while, it looked like there might be no minor lacrosse season in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Most of the age groups in the Niagara Thunderhawks program were unable to recruit enough players to form teams this year, but a spark of hope remains.
Three divisions – paperweight, U9 and U22 – attracted large contingents of players for the 2022 season and hopefully beyond.
The Thunderhawks U22 team (formerly intermediate) opened its season May 17 at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Virgil with fanfare after two quiet years due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
And the home team responded by beating the Fort Erie Hawks 12-1.
The team started a little tentatively, but quickly turned it around after a shot by Nolan Price three minutes into the game put the Thunderhawks up 1-0. Fort Erie answered three minutes later to make the score 1-1.
Kris Wilson wouldn’t be denied, firing a laser shortly after to open the floodgates and the first period ended 6-1.
The gates remained open, allowing the Thunderhawks to score four goals in the second and two more in the third. Goals went to Price (2), Aedan O’Gorman (2), Liam Dietsch (1), Keaton Boldt (2), Hunter Ostromecki (2) and Kris Wilson (3).
The offensive success, although impressive, was overshadowed by tenacious defensive play.
Players such as Joe Fragnito, Trent Hunter, Noah Ostromecki, Christian Blaylock and Dietsch dominated the weaker Fort Erie offence to keep shots on goalies Jack Muraca and Tanyan Davis to a mere handful.
Keeping the game one-sided were Liam Gatt, Aaron Wilson, Jordan Wiens, Ethan Williams, Colby Ostromecki and Jack Marotta.
Although their work was not reflected on the official scoresheet, they were pivotal in getting loose balls, setting up teammates and being the foundation of the team’s success. Those characteristics will help make this team successful.
The Thunderhawks are in Hamilton May 26 for a more competitive matchup against the Bengals.
Hamilton has long been known as a tough, gritty team, making the Bengals an excellent test for the skill and resolve of the Thunderhawks.
NOTL has also been well-known for producing players who not only were successful in minor lacrosse, but Jr. B, Jr. A and the National Lacrosse League.
With the loss of the Jr. B Thunderhawks this season, the U22 team is made up of past and future Jr. B players. The team is, quite frankly, providing the only high level of competitive sport in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
With games at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., alumni can catch up with past teammates, meet new friends and share some history.
Andy Boldt is head coach of the U22 Thunderhawks.