HUNTSVILLE - It all came down to about an inch of metal.
That was all that stood between the Huntsville Hawks senior lacrosse club’s attempt to pick up a point Saturday night at the Jack Bionda Arena.
The Hawks were trailing the Brooklin Merchants and with only seconds remaining in a 15-14 game, Luke Walton rang a shot off the iron and left Huntsville still looking for its first win of the 2012 Ontario Senior B Lacrosse League season.
“Colin Boucher rang one off the post just a minute before that,” said head coach Karl Carnduff. “It was close. We could have tied it and who knows what would have happened then.”
The 0-11-1 Hawks sit in last place in the league, having been eliminated from the post-season weeks ago.
But Carnduff said prior to Saturday’s game his team wasn’t about to go out the rest of the season quietly and that his club would do its best to play the role of spoiler for the other teams.
It appeared that would be just the case on Saturday as the Hawks put a scare into the Merchants, who are battling Norwood for fourth place in the league.
“I told the players before the game this was our chance to do some damage to other teams. We were right there with them too. They had us down for quite a while then we just fought back. We dug down deep and never quit … we really did.”
The Hawks were down 14-8 early in the third, but outscored the Merchants 6-1 for most of the final period to contend for the win.
The turning point for the entire contest possibly came before the first whistle as the Hawks held their first players-only meeting of this season prior to the start of Saturday’s game.
“I don’t know what went on there, I never asked,” Carnduff said. “But they came out and played a lot better. Some of these guys might be finishing up their careers so they will want to go out in style.”
Huntsville took the lead on a Corey Moore goal just 45 seconds into the game.
The Merchants tied that midway through the first until Phil Montgomery and Walton staked Huntsville to a 3-1 lead.
But Brooklin reeled off three straight to move in front of the Hawks 4-3 after the first.
The visitors went up 5-3 before Cody Simpson pulled Huntsville to within one at 3:23.
The lead went back and forth between the two sides after that, with Curtis McKinnon had two and Robert Wilkie and Moore had singles. But at the end of two periods, the Merchants had a 12-8 lead.
Brooklin increased its lead to 14-8 early in the third, them the Hawks took over the scoring for most of the remainder of the period.
Todd Holinshead had a pair, with singles to Boucher, Jason Fisher, Joe O’Halloran and Moore (for the hat trick).
O’Halloran chipped in six assists for a seven-point night, while Moore added two helpers for a five-point game.
The offensive output moved O’Halloran to fourth place in league scoring with 45 points, while Moore slid into a tie for eighth spot with 37 points.
Holinshead’s two markers gave him 18 goals on the year, fifth best in the league.
Goalie Ryan Masters, despite giving up 15 markers, was praised by his coach for some good work on the night.
“Brooklin scored a lot on transition and they like to set a pick and they will use a lot of screened shots, which a goalie can’t really see very well. I felt he played well as it was, but there were a lot of screened shots he couldn’t see.”
The Hawks are back in action this Saturday as they head down the highway to take on the Oakville Titans.
Huntsville will have to keep an eye on Oakville’s Shane Scott, who is tearing up the league offensively this year. He is averaging more than five points a game for the Titans, with 63 points in 12 games to lead the league in scoring.
The last time the two teams played, Scott had six points in a 13-7 win over Huntsville.