Another Arena Lacrosse League season is in the books. The league crowned their third champion in three years this past weekend as the St. Catharines ShockWave took down the Paris RiverWolves 8-6 at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena to win the ALL Cup.
The ShockWave were the cream of the crop this season with a 13-1 regular season record. Their only loss was during a brutally shorthanded game vs. the Six Nations Snipers. They had a bye through the quarterfinals and defeated the defending champion Whitby Steelhawks 19-11 to earn their way to the title game.
Paris finished in third place with a 6-8 record. They defeated the Snipers 20-11 in the quarterfinals before taking down the fourth place Oshawa Outlaws 14-13 in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The final game was closer than anyone could have predicted, with the ShockWave holding just a one-goal lead at halftime. They led the whole second half but Paris was always within striking distance.
It was a tough loss for the RiverWolves who fell in the championship game for the second-straight season, but league President Paul St. John said the ‘Wolves were a competitive group that were able to slow the pace of the game and utilize resets to create more chances.
“Coach Jamie Dubrick and assistant Chris Driscoll really prepared a defensive system to stymie the ShockWave offense,” St. John said. That defense included holding the league’s third leading point getter Chris Attwood, who is a dangerous scorer, to one goal and three assists. “Overall this game could have gone either way. If Chase Martin is not outstanding in the ShockWave goal, earning the game MVP, the RiverWolves could be the champions.”
That Martin was outstanding was echoed by ShockWave assistant captain Brooker Muir.
“Martin was an easy choice for the first star in the final game,” Muir said. “He made a lot of big saves and even finished the game off with a fight. We fed off his energy.”
Martin and RiverWolves goaltender Nolan Clayton dropped the gloves on a stoppage of play with 30 seconds left. Clayton got a couple of shots in before the pair wrestled, impeded by their goalie equipment. Martin got Clayton’s helmet off and popped him with a few rights until the referees broke them up. Martin had been heading back to his net while Clayton had been heading to the RiverWolves’ bench and they began exchanging words.
The game was tied after the first quarter, with Cody Ward and Caleb Wiles scoring for St. Catharines and Ryan Desveaux and Spencer Pyke tallying for Paris.
Pyke’s second goal gave Paris a brief 3-2 lead, their only one of the game, in the second. Bryan Neufeld came back with a pair for St. Catharines to give the ShockWave the lead. Cole Spear briefly tied the game at four but Wiles put one past Clayton on the power play with eight seconds to go for a 5-4 lead at halftime.
Muir said it was the team’s work ethic that allowed them success in the regular season and playoffs, especially the final game.
“Our success came from everyone putting in hard work every shift from the back end to the front. Our captain Mitch Dumont is the best leader you could ever ask for, always leading by example and keeping everyone on point. Having a guy like that on your team is huge when it comes down to those final games. Dustin Gatt was another standout; he’s probably the hardest working player in the league and he wins all those small battles to get the ball up the floor.”
Each team scored twice in the third quarter which allowed the ShockWave to keep their one-goal lead. Chris Attwood and Dylan Laprade found the back of the net for St. Catharines and Travis Burton and Cole Spear replied for Paris.
The fourth quarter was a defensive battle with each goaltender coming up big. Martin made a huge save on Matt Lee on a RiverWolves’ two-on-one with three minutes left. Josh Becker scored the only goal of the frame, giving St. Catharines the 8-6 lead with 1:44 left. Josh Medeiros nearly slipped a shot under Martin’s pad shortly after, but he wasn’t fooled.
“It was a close game but Becks coming through with that outside snipe made it a little easier for us to stay calm and finish the job,” Muir praised.
The ShockWave were the league’s most complete team throughout the course of the season. After finishing in third place in 2018, they lost in the semi-finals to Paris. This season was one of redemption, as the team acquired the pieces necessary to make them not only competitive, but to rocket them to the top of the league.
“Picking up some great players in the off season too helped us a lot: Layne Smith, Johnny Jimmerson, Alex Henry and Bill O’Brien to name a few. They came to win every game and really helped set the tone on the floor,” Muir said.
The Whitby Steelhawks won the championship as an expansion team in 2018. The Oshawa Outlaws were the league’s inaugural winners in 2017.