Don’t think for a second that the Cobourg Kodiaks didn’t believe they wouldn’t get their first win during Sunday’s second intermission. Up 6-2 on the Brampton Excelsiors, everything was going right. They just had to hope that things would continue to go right.
That’s the problem with hope. It knocks you on your ass. If you don’t have talent and desire clicking away with the hope, you have a problem. All three must come together for a strong team to do well.
Nine unanswered goals starting at the 15:47 mark of the second period catapulted the Excelsiors to a 10-6 win. It was a complete and total team breakdown for the Kodiaks in front of 879 fans at the Cobourg Community Centre.
Assistant coach Jason Clark was visibly frustrated after the game.
“We got out outscored 8-0 there in the third period, we had a 6-2 lead and I think we were
feeling too good about ourselves there in the dressing room between periods and didn’t realize that we still have another 20 minutes to play,” Clark said. “You still have to play the same way you did in the first 40 minutes and we didn’t do that. They scored eight goals and we didn’t score in the last thirty minutes of the game, that’s unacceptable.”
Clark recognized that the effort just wasn’t there in the third.
“We’d jog off the floor, they ran us into the ground. We didn’t get transition, they transitioned us to death. We didn’t come hard off the bench, they’re flying down the floor. It all boils down to getting outworked. We got away from what helped us in the first two periods. We’re not good enough. We’ve got to work hard every night if we’re going to be in games. We’re not talented like these other teams. If we don’t work hard, we’re going to get outscored 8-0 in the third period.”
Not many “experts” believed Cobourg to do well this season; they said they’d be lucky to win even a couple of games. But the Kodiaks surprised everyone in their first few games – sure, they lost (with one tie), but they were right in every game until the end making it exciting lacrosse to watch.
“You can take some positives from our first few games,” Clark said. “We went up to Six Nations and we lose in overtime… they had Merrill, Jamieson, Staats, they dressed a good squad. We played Brooklin here and tied them 9-9, then we go to Brooklin where they bring out nine guys who played in the NLL championship game and we lose a two goal squeaker. You can take positives out of those games but it’s pretty tough to take any positives out of this one.”
Corey Thompson got the Kodiaks on the board at 4:43 firing a shot over Quinton Martin. Chad Cummings scored on a three on two transition break, and Jacob Ruest scored shorthanded before Brampton even got on the board. Mike Burke scored just off the bench to get Brampton on the board at 19:25.
Matt Crough accepted a cross crease pass from Dylan Goddard and faked a shot before beating Martin 27 seconds into the second period. Ruest blasted a shot from the top of the circle at 2:31. Crough picked up a rebound on the power play and put a backhand into the net at 4:51. Joe Resetarits beat DiRuscio on a bad angle shot at 15:47 to give Brampton some momentum before the break.
Martin, a Six Nations junior grad, has seen the bulk of the minutes in the Excels net as they await playing decisions from Anthony Cosmo and Tyler Carlson. He played well the whole game but wasn’t really tested in the third, which was all Excelsiors.
Dan Dawson led the charge with two goals and disciplined play.
“We knew weren’t going to be winless team this year, we knew we would get one going,” he said. “You have to get it going early in the season or you’ll be outside looking in and you’ll be playing catch up and you just can’t do that with all the talent in the East now.
He said that the Excels coaches reminded them throughout the game to continue to believe in their process.
“We didn’t play well in the first two but it was kudos to [Cobourg’s] defense and goaltending,” Dawson said. “They played well. We were getting chances and we knew if we stayed positive and stayed with the process the execution would come. We knew that, we just got lucky that we got away with [a win] just playing 20 minutes of good lacrosse.”
Phil Caputo scored the first two to make a game of it, then Dawson brought the Excels within one on a power play. Mike Burke tied the game at 11:31 and Dawson gave the Excels their first lead 1:15 later. Mike Teeter barely avoided the crease but extended the lead to eight. The Kodiaks had a chance to catch up with 1:30 left, pulling DiRuscio, but Martin passed the ball to a streaking Tyson Bell who found the empty net. The Excels asserted their dominance as Teeter scored with 34 seconds left to end the game.
The game got rough at points. Tyler Ferreira took out DiRuscio’s legs in the crease in the third, and Tyler Roche went unpenalized for an elbow to Ferreira’s head later in the frame. Brodie Birkhof and Paul Dawson spent some time jawing at each other but only Birkhof dropped his gloves at the end of the game.
There was some concern for DiRuscio as he took a ball to the head in the first period and was looked at by the trainer, but stayed in the game.
“DiRuscio took one in the head and I think that shook him up,” Crough said of his goaltender.
DiRuscio was solid through the first 40 minutes, square to every shot. He made a big save on Ferreira late in the third that saw him flail to his left for the stop, but he got up very slowly. Dawson crashed into him in the crease on one of his goals and DiRuscio exacted some revenge by stepping on him.
Crough, the Kodiaks leading scorer, was pretty quiet after the game.
“We didn’t say too much [after the game], everyone pretty much knew what was going on. We can’t get complacent,” he said. “We’re not the team. We don’t have all the NLL guys and stuff like other teams who can sit there and just coast. It’s not going to work like that for us. We just have to grind it out for the whole 20 minutes and hopefully we can hold that four goal lead.”
The Kodiaks have little time to prepare for their next, and perhaps toughest, game of the season so far. They’ll play in Peterborough Thursday before hosting the Lakers in a return match on Sunday. It’ll be the first game in front of the largest fanbase in the league for the young Kodiaks.
“We were well on our way to our first win and we absolutely fell apart so it’s pretty quiet in there right now,” Clark reflected. “They’re going to have to pick themselves up and wipe the dirt off because they go to Peterborough Thursday night to play in front of a packed house and if they play like that it’ll get really ugly really quick.”
The win leapfrogs the Excelsiors over the Kodiaks for 5th place in the MSL. Brampton now has two points, from their first win, and the Kodiaks one from their tie last week with Brooklin.