CALGARY, Alberta- As opening ceremonies closed, the two provinces who competed against each other for the gold medal in 2017 filtered onto the floor for an opening game filled with excitement. The opportunity for Alberta was present to sit firmly on top of the division for the next few days, while Ontario sought to firmly replant themselves on top of the division. As the music faded and the first whistle blew, both teams began their quest for another National Championship.
The first period saw plenty of back-to-back scoreless action as both teams tried to get set in their offense and establish control over the other team, however to no avail. Both teams when back and forth as Alberta’s Max McKernan was able to score on the run as he moved across the floor. The one goal lead was short-lived, as Ontario answered back with a quick and decisive shot from Edward Qu. Qu’s goal would be the last of the period as both teams continued to struggle to score the ball on the opposing team.
Alberta’s defense continued to be effective keeping Ontario out of the middle of the floor by playing close, compact, and letting their goalie soak up the shots. Conversely, Ontario pressured Alberta’s offense, limiting their shot selection while forcing them to expire the thirty-second clock on multiple occasions. Despite the continued defensive battle, a few well-placed mid-range shots opened the scoring for Ontario early in the period, followed by a sequence of goals, the last of which, a brilliantly played hidden ball trick that left the normally strong Alberta defense confused and facing a two-goal deficit entering the third.
The defensive battle continued in the third period as Ontario managed their two-goal lead with aggressive defensive play and long possessions on offense. After the second goal from Isaac Bennett, Ontario pushed their lead to three and effectively put the game out of reach with under five minutes to play. Despite two late penalties for Ontario, caused by the delay of game penalties for late shots on the goal, Alberta was not able to break Ontario’s stout man-down defense, as Ontario became the first team to take home a victory at the 2018 Midget National Lacrosse Championship.
Monday features a full slate of games, as the remaining provinces will see their first action of the tournament, while Ontario and Alberta will play Saskatchewan and First Nations respectively.
BY DALLAS SMITH
Alberta Lacrosse Association