World Lax: Canada remains undefeated at WILC

Gold medallists Team Canada at the 2019 WILC. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

After 10 days of superb competition, the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships concluded last Saturday with the marquee matchup that everybody had been predicting: Team Canada versus the Iroquois Nationals. The game did not disappoint as fans were treated to lacrosse at the very highest level. In the end, Team Canada powered their way to a 19-12 victory and their fifth consecutive World Indoor title.

“Both teams battled real hard. Nobody gave either team an inch,” said Canadian general manager Ed Comeau. “I thought our coaching staff, with Glenn Clark, did a great job of really preparing the guys. Both teams had a whole lot of talent. We were fortunate enough to find the back of the net and it was certainly a great lacrosse game.”

The anticipation for this game was palpable and adding to the excitement was news that the Iroquois Nationals had activated Lyle Thompson from the injured reserve.

“He’s a gamer; he wanted in. (It’s) the gold medal, you’re not going to tell him no, it’s Lyle Thompson,” said head coach Rich Kilgour.

Zed Williams struck first for the Iroquois just 19 seconds into the contest. Williams drove the net and dove across the crease tucking the ball past an outstretched Mike Poulin. Dane Dobbie answered just two minutes later with a crease dive of his own bringing the hometown crowd to their feet. The rest of the first quarter followed suit as both teams flexed their muscles in an offensive slugfest. At the end of the quarter, Canada held a 6-5 lead.

As the game progressed into the second quarter, the Canadian defense began to assert themselves. Billed as the top defensive unit and led by tournament all-stars Kyle Rubisch and Graeme Hossack, Team Canada’s fierce pressure and athleticism limited the Nationals to just one goal on 11 shots. The Canadian offense continued to roll with Dobbie, Curtis Dickson, Dhane Smith and Mark Matthews each getting goals pushing the lead to 10-6 at the half.

Canada picked up right where they left off as play continued into the third. A suffocating defense led to the goal of the game courtesy of Dhane Smith. Canada used a lightning quick three-way passing play that ended with Smith scoring on a cross-crease feed from Shayne Jackson. The goal exemplified Canada’s dedication throughout the entire tournament to a selfless team-oriented offense. The Iroquois would get goals from Zed Williams and Tehoka Nanticoke to keep the game within reach at 14-8 with one quarter left to play.

Despite their best efforts, the Iroquois couldn’t quite muster the comeback they needed. Williams scored his fifth goal of the game and Nanticoke finished off a hat trick, but it just wasn’t to be. Canada refused to let go of the momentum and scored five more times on their way to victory. Dobbie led all scorers with 10 points on the night, while his Roughnecks’ teammate Dickson scored five times.

Curtis Dickson led Canada with five goals in the gold medal game at the 2019 WILC. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

“Our offense here is just phenomenal and so unselfish. They played the Canadian way,” said assistant coach Curt Malawsky.

Afterwards, Kilgour talked about his team: “I’m just real proud of the guys. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but we played them tough. We’re probably the only team that even competes with them at this tournament. They’re a big, deep, strong team and they’re just really tough to beat. We would’ve had to play a perfect game.”

Shortly after the end of the game, the tournament awards were handed out and Cody Jamieson was named MVP. Again, Coach Kilgour had nothing but praise for his captain.

“He’s at the point now where he’s a leader with words and a leader with actions on the floor and that’s a really good combination. Everyone really respects him. He works as hard as anyone on the team and when you need a big goal it’s pretty easy as a coach – ‘88 get out there and do what you do.’”

Dominating the All-World Team were players from Team Canada. Goaltender Mike Poulin, defenders Kyle Rubisch and Graeme Hossack as well as forward Mark Matthews joined Iroquois forward Randy Staats and the USA’s Joel White as the top six players of the tournament.

On a personal note, if you were lucky enough to be at the Langley Events Centre, you got to be part of something truly special. The Iroquois Nationals and their fans bring a spirituality to the game that’s unexplainable, but connects you to lacrosse on a whole different level that words can’t explain. From the Iroquoian national anthem to the fans drumming in unison, it’s a moving experience that can’t help but deepen ones love for this great sport.

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