Senior Hawks reduced to role of spoiler in lacrosse league
Team mathematically eliminated from post season after pair of weekend losses
HUNTSVILLE - The role of spoiler.
In all of sports, that phrase is perhaps the least favourite of them all because it means you are not doing so well.
Unfortunately for the Huntsville Hawks senior lacrosse team, that is the role they find themselves in after this past weekend.
With two more losses, the winless Hawks have now been officially eliminated from the playoff race in the Ontario Senior B Lacrosse League.
Huntsville dropped a 17-7 road game to the St. Catharines Saints on Friday before suffering a second straight road setback on Saturday, this time 11-6 to the Owen Sound North Stars.
The Hawks sit at 0-11-1 for the year. With four games left in the year, and nine points between them and the sixth-place Sarnia Beavers – holders of the final playoff spot – coach Karl Carnduff said that his team can only look to the role of spoilers in the final few games.
“We’re done,” he said pointedly. “It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. All we can do now is play spoiler and try and knock somebody off in our last four games. We want to win all four ... we won’t give up, we have pride.”
Unfortunate is but just one of the words that can be used to describe the Hawks’ season. Bouyed by veteran leadership from Colin Boucher, who was coming off a great year playing in the Canadian professional winter league, scoring from the likes of Luke Walton, Joey O’Halloran, Todd Holinshead and Corey Moore, plus the addition of starting netminder Ryan Masters, Huntsville was expected to floor a competitive club this year. But scoring past O’Halloran, Holinshead and Moore has been inconsistent, and injuries along with an overall lack of defence has plagued the team all season long.
The Hawks trail the other six teams in virtually every category this year, with the lone and surprising exception being its penalty-killing, which is best in the league at 91.89 per cent.
“That was our goal, to improve on last year’s finish. It just didn’t work out. We had some injuries but that is no excuse. We are scoring enough goals, but we just didn’t play well, mostly in our own end. It’s disheartening, it really is, “ said Carnduff.
In the game against the Saints, the Hawks dug themselves an early hole they couldn’t get out of, trailing 8-1 after 20 minutes. Holinshead had the only Huntsville goal of the period.
The Saints increased their lead to 10-1 before three straight Huntsville goals from Phil Montgomery, O’Halloran and Holinshead for the Hawks. Mike Fryer added another Huntsville goal before the period ended 15-5.
O’Halloran and Chase Simpson scored in the final period before the Saints closed the game out with two late goals on Masters, who faced 45 shots in the Huntsville net.
Simpson opened the scoring in the Owen Sound game, but the Stars countered with three of their own before the end of the period. The second period was the best for Huntsville in a while, as they scored four times on goals by Holinshead. Moore, Boucher and Justin Kloepfer. Both sides were tied 5-5 heading into the final period.
Boucher’s second of the night early in the third put Huntsville on top 6-5, but the hosts pulled away late in the period with three goals in just more than three minutes to win the game.
“We were tied 6-6 with seven minutes to go,” lamented Carnduff. We were outshot 68 to 38 and Ryan Masters stood on his head literally.”
O’Halloran is tied for fifth in the league for scoring with 38 points, followed by Moore with 32 points for 10th place, while Holinshead is in 11th spot with 31 points.
Holinshead’s 16 goals have him tied for fifth overall in the OSBLL.
Huntsville hosts Brooklin this Saturday night at the Jack Bionda Arena.