Presidents' Cup: Mohawks vs. Merchants Game Recap
September 2, 2016
BY DALLAS SMITH
LEDUC, Alberta - Friday’s first semi-final game featured the Kahnawake Mohawks and the Brooklin Merchants. The Mohawks were coming off a first round bye and a day-off on Thursday. Conversely, the Merchants were coming off an impressive Thursday victory over the Tyendinaga Thunderbirds to place them into this matchup with the Mohawks.
Fresh after their day off, the Mohawks opened the scoring with a delightful goal from Patrick Saunders for an early lead against the OLA representatives. Early on, the Mohawks defense severely limited the Merchants opportunities on offense. Strong defense and an aggressive transition game propelled the Mohawks to an early 2-0 lead after Saunders scored his second of the game off a 3 on 2 fast break. The Merchants struggled to score in the initial twenty minutes as Angus Goodleaf continued his strong tournament performance by effectively stopping the barrage of outside shots taken by the Merchants. The Merchants mounted frustration led to three successive penalties, along with another penalty on the Mohawks. This led to several minutes of a 4 on 3 extra man opportunity, followed by a full two minute 5 on 4 extra-man possession. Both the man down and the rag unit of the Merchants was stout and active for the final five minutes, stopping the Mohawks from increasing their halftime lead. Despite their solid special teams play, the Merchants were unable to score letting the Mohawks walk away with a 2-0 lead after the first period.
Even though the Merchants struggled in the first, Chad LeVick scored early in the second to cut the Mohawks lead. The Merchants run stopped at one goal as Callum Crawford hit Saunders for his third of the game. Even though Crawford didn't manage to score in the first two periods, his offensive presence was evident as he directed and controlled the offensive end. The Merchants defense was thoroughly tested and remained strong, holding the Mohawks to one goal at the halfway point of the second. Even though the second period witnessed two early goals, the rest of the period saw both teams consistently exchange penalties, with neither team being able to score on their extra-man opportunities. The Mohawks maintained their two-goal lead and ended the second with a 3-1 lead.
The third and final period began much like the second with an early score. However, this time, it was the Mohawks scoring to extend their lead to three. Again, Patrick Saunders was able to beat Angus Goodleaf for his fourth of the game. The Merchants had plenty of opportunities in the first ten minutes of the period, including a 5 on 4 and a 4 on 3 extra man opportunity. The latter led to their second goal of the game from Jonas Derks. The extra-man goal had the teams playing a little over a minute of 4 on 4 action where the Mohawks regained their three goal lead off the stick of Peter Jacobs. Callum Crawford continued to dictate the offensive pace and finally pushed a shot past the Merchant’s goalie off a nice one on one dodge from the half boards. The Mohawks extended defense continued to give the Merchants offense difficulties, as they struggled to consistently take high percentage shots. The Merchants found themselves with another unsuccessful extra-man opportunity that culminated with a back-breaking shorthanded goal from Callum Crawford, his second of the game. After thirty minutes, the Merchants goal drought came to an end in the final five minutes of the third as a streaking Jonas Derks was finally able to beat Angus Goodleaf. Despite accumulating several penalties near the end of the period, the Mohawks were able to stifle the Merchants offense enough to walk away with a 7-4 victory.
The Mohawks victory moves them into the Gold Medal game that will take place Saturday at 4:30pm. Their opponent will be decided after the Friday night matchup between the St. Albert Miners and the Native Sons. The Mohawks already hold a divisional victory over the Native Sons and have yet to play the host team.