The Ladner Pioneers have advanced to the gold medal game at the President’s Cup national senior “B” lacrosse championships for the first time in 18 years.
The Pioneers roared back from a 6-2 second period deficit to stun defending champions Six Nations Rivermen 14-8 on Friday. They will now take on Can-Am League champion Akwesasne Bucks at 6 p.m. (PDT) tonight, looking to win their third national title in their rich history.
The Rivermen seemed to be in full control when Marshall Powless’ second period power play tally opened up a four-goal cushion for the Ontario champions and chased starting Ladner goalie Eric Penney in favour of Alex Buque. The shake-up seemed to light a fire under the Pioneers, especially their transition game with some unlikely heroes producing some huge goals.
Logan Schuss made it 6-3 and defender Jakob Doucet then notched his first of the tournament on a terrific shorthanded effort.
It was then another defender's turn — Nate Henare — to hit the scoresheet for the first time and goals from Mike Mallory and Spencer Bromley followed soon after. Doucet’s second of the night completed a four-goal explosion in just 85 seconds and the Pioneers suddenly had an 8-6 lead.
The power play then went work with Phil Caputo notching four goals. Doucet would later add his hat trick goal while Sam Claire, Ryan Keith, Tyler Pace and Ryan Benesch also scored.
"That had nothing to do with the way Eric was playing. We came out flat and we needed to something to shake things up at that point," said Ladner head coach Ross Frehlick. "Then we showed just what this team is capable of."
The B.C. champions advanced to the semi-finals in the seven-team tournament by going 4-1-1 in round-robin play that included 9-6 win over Six Nations last Monday.
Akwesasne defeated the host Edmonton Miners 10-9 in the other semi-final match-up. Ladner edged the Bucks 10-9 on Wednesday thanks to Zach Herreweyers' goal with just three seconds left.
The gold medal game can be watched via livestream here for a cost of $12.