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Monday, September 26, 2022
Lacrosse: The streak continues for Thunderhawks with first playoff win
The U22 Niagara Thunderhawks won their first A division playoff game last week versus the Hamilton Bengals. (Supplied)

Andy Boldt
Special to The Lake Report

The streak continues … The U22 Niagara Thunderhawks won their first “A” division playoff game last week versus the Hamilton Bengals. 

As expected, the Bengals came out with a more aggressive edge to their game, applying pressure from the first face-off. 

The Thunderhawks were a little rattled by the pressure for the first 10 minutes of the opening period, dropping passes, missing loose balls and hitting the Bengals’ goalie in the stomach with numerous shots.  

But with five minutes left in the first period, Thunderhawks captain Joe Fragnito was able to solve the goalie puzzle and score the first goal, calming the bench and refocusing the team’s trajectory. 

In the second, four additional goals were scored by Hunter Ostromecki, Nolan Price, Jordan Wiens and Aedan O’Gorman.  

Although behind, the Bengals kept up pressure to score a goal of their own and keep the Thunderhawks off the scoresheet for the third period, resulting in a 5-1 win. 

The Thunderhawks visit Hamilton on July 14 for the next game in the best-of-three series with the intent of bringing home the Zone 9 championship banner for the league.

On Saturday, July 9, the Thunderhawks met the Milton Mavericks in a double-header  contest. 

This was organized as an alumni day of lacrosse where the two top-ranked teams in the province at this point in the season were to play each other to determine the top seed. 

Unfortunately, the Mavericks arrived a little short-handed, as COVID-19 claimed a few of their offensive players.  

Although short, they did however come prepared.  A team with some large and quick athletic bodies demonstrated why they are the second seed by applying the most defensive and offensive pressure the Thunderhawks have faced this season. 

The Thunderhawks, again, started out a little slow and sloppy, but were able to turn it around quickly due to the excellent play of their defence.  With defenders keeping their opponents outside of optimal scoring areas, goalie Jack Muraca was able to focus on making the routine saves.

The Thunderhawks added five goals in the second period and only allowed three by Milton as they moved into the third period.  Great defensive play allowed the offence to add an additional three goals in the third for a 10-3 win.  

After a three-hour break, the duel resumed in the second game with additional tension between the two teams.  The Thunderhawks’ Ethan Williams was able to score just 40 seconds into the first period with Milton answering 60 seconds later. 

This started not only a physical contest, but a verbal one as well. Players were constantly engaged in verbal fencing match to see who could one up the other.  Although not seen from the stands, this game within the game was one in which the Thunderhawks were also able to hold their own.  

The physical side of the game was also on the Thunderhawks’ side as they reached most of the loose balls, won face-offs and outscored the Mavericks 6-1 during the rest of the game for a 7-1 win.  

The Thunderhawks Alumni Day was a success, drawing a range of former players to both  the rink and the social time after each game. 

At one point three generations of the Hope family were in the building soaking up the lacrosse past, present and future of the Thunderhawks family.

A huge thank you to alumni, Reid Watson, Matt VanderZalm, Jared Hope and Shawn Merza along with parents Greg Wiens, Gino Patterson, who helped work the barbecue feeding the players from both teams. 

Additional thanks to alumni Chris Weier, Aiden Buis and Connor Watson for working the score clock during games. 

Thanks to Dylan Price for playing music before, during and after the games, to Lina Muraca and Allison Price for being the alumni greeters, and Tim Marotta who is our Swiss army knife volunteer. 

Finally, thanks to the Milton Mavericks for travelling to NOTL to give us the competition and especially to Dan Willms, who is not only the trainer for the Thunderhawks, but was key in getting alumni support, arranging access to the necessary facilities to make the day a success.  

It is days like this that demonstrate the strength of the Thunderhawks family and we look forward to making this an annual event.

Andy Boldt is head coach of the U22 Thunderhawks.