…sigh… 2015 regular season, probably the best ever – 8 wins in 18 games, at least 1 win in every tournament, always competitive when playing with a full team, going in to the provincials with, arguably the best possible draw, Team Werewolf was ready to make some noise! Unfortunately the silence was deafening – it was a VERY quiet weekend!
Friday night, the full bench, though missing the reliable JKOW scoring machine and OrilliaMike, started the weekend off against #2 Durham on a positive note by scoring the first goal midway through the opening frame. The period ended with the Wolves up 1-0. Another goal 7 minutes into the 2nd period and things were looking pretty good. But then the tide turned, Durham scored 3 in a row before the Wolves could respond. Playoff defense was in full force as the shooters were kept under tight wraps at both ends. The 2nd period ended with the teams tied at 3 and the stress level started to rise. In the 3rd Durham scored early on a power play and added another a few minutes later and the battle was on. The last 9 minutes were a war, London pressing and being denied by the Durham goalie, Durham getting some transition chances but mostly shooting wide. Lots of shots, no scoring. Durham eventually ran out the clock on a 5-3 victory and Russ’ comment that he’d been playing with and against the Durham goalie since 1969 with little scoring success throughout seemed to be sadly appropriate. Anyway, 1 down, 2 wins in the next 2 games, we can still make some noise! ….right?
Saturday morning dawned rainy, dull and dreary – good indoor lacrosse weather. The opponent, #4 Halton Hills, hamstrung twice by the Werewolves in 2015, familiar concrete instead of cushy turf, better result should be guaranteed! 1st period started of with back and forth play but no scoring at either end. London was dominating possession time but again couldn’t solve the goaltending. Halton scored 1st at the 10 min mark and then the teams traded goals to finish off the period with Halton leading 2-1. In the 2nd the Wolves scored first on a power play and then added another a couple of minutes later to take the lead but a late unforced giveaway allowed Halton to even the score with 6 seconds on the clock – 3-3 at the end of 2. Unfortunately the 3rd was all Halton, 4 goals to none forLondon. The Wolves had their chances, but as would be the case the entire weekend, they just couldn’t find that small bit of unprotected mesh. 2nd game in the books with the Goats besting the Werewolves 7-3.
2 losses, pretty well no hope of being able to advance, might as well play the spoiler role as has been done (successfully) in past years. The afternoon opponent was Niagara, the source of a couple of losses in 2015 but potentially beatable. Again the 1st started slow before Niagara was able to pop a couple of power play goals midway through the period with London responding with 2 of their own, late in the period, to knot the game at 2. In the 2nd Niagara again popped a couple before London responded with 1 late and the period ended with Niagara up 4-3. In the 3rd London pressed hard, very hard, and scored 1 to tie but with less than 5 minutes to go Niagara was able to sneak in another shot to restore their lead to 1. London pressed again and again but just couldn’t solve The Beef at the other end. A dangerous shot penalty with 3 minutes to go left the Wolves shorthanded for the remainder of the game and time ran out on a Niagara 5-4 victory. Close, but not enough….again!
On to the Toilet Bowl, a rematch of last year’s O/T final game against The Boro Boys. Another hard fought game, close checking, not much scoring! In the 1st, the teams traded goals with PBoro stealing an errant clearing pass late in the period and going up by 1 with 16 sec left…DAMN! London played strong in the 2nd and scored 3 including a pretty power play goal 11 sec in to the penalty but PBoro scored a couple as well and the 2nd period ended knotted at 4. The Boro Boys scored midway in the 3rd to go up by 1 but the Wolves pressed hard, scoring, but having it called back and then scoring again with a minute to play to tie it up. Great! OT AGAIN! This year, no sudden death (too stressful on us old guys? sudden death possibly too close to the truth? Who knows?), shoot out instead! WONDERFUL! all the focus on the goalies! No one remembers which of the shooters DIDN’T score, but everyone remembers that the goalie didn’t stop the winning goal! …sigh…. In the shoot out, London misses/Boro goalie makes the stop, Boro shooter misses, repeat for the 2nd round, 3rd London shooter misses (par for the weekend!), Boro shooter rolls a low ball to the corner that is partially stopped but still makes it over the line. Game Over! Wolves are dead meat, 10th place! Oh well, not a place we haven’t been before! On to the beer garden for a weekend and season debrief (and couple of cold ones too!). General consensus – blame it on the JKOW! – he probably wouldn’t have scored (much, enough?) but its fun to blame him anyway.
Other London related results from the weekend, Ashmore and Bricknell get turned away AGAIN with Orangeville Jrs losing to Bramalea AGAIN, by 1, 2nd year running. Pretty good lacrosse for semi old guys!
In any case, 2015 – a pretty successful year, 6 added players that allow for bodies to miss a game here and there without completely crippling the team. 8 wins over the year, most games pretty competitive, other teams being a bit worried having to play the Werewolves – definitely a better result than 2014 and a significant improvement over our 10 year average.
On to 2016 – 31 weeks to go!