Presidents Cup Day 1, Sunday August 27
by Stephen Stamp
The 2023 Presidents Cup at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, Ontario features a star-studded cast of players for seven teams representing championship teams from six Senior B leagues across North America.
The tournament has five days of round robin play, Sunday through Thursday, August 27-31. Then, as September dawns, it is on to the playoffs. The first place team from the round robin plays the fourth place team and the second- and third-place teams meet in the semifinals on Friday. And finally, on Saturday, the semifinal losers meet for the bronze medal and the semifinal winners meet to crown a champion.
The full schedule, results, statistics and more can be found at the Presidents Cup web site.
And each day of the tournament, I will be bringing you the 3 Stars of the Day, an Unsung Hero, a Quote of the Day, Thinking Outside the Box (Presidents Cup players away from the Prezzy), and some Quick Sticks to capture the tone and flavour of the tournament.
3 Stars, Day 1
1 Dustin Hill, Six Nations Rivermen, 46 saves on 50 shots, .920 save percentage, 2 assists
Hill was the standout among a handful of strong goaltending performances. The Rivermen were outshot 50-39 by the host Oakville Rock but Hill's steady and sometimes spectacular play allowed the Rivermen to beat the team who had bested them in the Ontario Series final, downing the Rock 5-4. Hill also contributed with his passing, tying for the game high in scoring with his pair of assists.
2 Tyler Pace, Ladner Pioneers, 3 goals, 2 assists
All 5 of Pace's points came in the third period as the Pioneers overcame a 7-4 deficit to open their championship defence with a 10-9 win over the Edmonton Miners. Pace scored 30 seconds after Edmonton had opened the scoring just half a minute into the period then set up Austin Shanks for the goal that pulled Ladner within one. After the Miners responded with a pair, Pace scored on back to back bullets to the far top corner, a blueprint that Jake Carey followed on the tying goal in transition. Pace wrapped up the evening by setting up Zach Herreweyers' game-winning goal with 52 seconds to play. Several players put up impressive point totals; Pace posted all of his points at crucial junctures of the game.
3 Bryce Tolmie, Kahnawake Mohawks, 1 goal
In a defensive battle, Tolmie was a key contributor to the Mohawks efforts on D in holding Snake Island to 6 goals. Tolmie also scored a gorgeous goal when he won the race to a loose ball off a rebound that bounced almost to centre floor, sprinted toward the net and whipped a behind the back shot around a transition defender and into the top corner for Kahnawake's sixth goal.
Aaron Duff, Edmonton Miners
In 2008, Duff's coach told IL Indoor in response to the site's Alberta Jr A coaches poll that “There is not a wall this kid wouldn't find a way to go around, under or through.” Fifteen years later, not much has changed for the gritty Duff, although in the Miners' opening game he played the role of the wall rather than someone overcoming it: Duff blocked a shot with his stomach then stood there unfazed. He is not the most glamorous player but Duff will still do whatever he can to help his team win.
Quote of the Day
Tyler Pace, Ladner Pioneers (3g, 2a in 10-9 win over Edmonton Miners)
On coming back to defend the title they won in 2022 with another year together as a team under their belts.
“I think we're just more experienced this year. We have the title to defend and people know that so we're getting their best shots. We have more chemistry. We know the systems, we know what we need to do. We have the experience in this tournament, which is really important, because it is so tough.”
On the potential distraction of knowing that with the tournament in Ladner next year, if the Pioneers can win this year they'll have a chance to go for the three-peat at home, matching what St. Albert did from 2016-18, including 2016 in Leduc, Alberta.
“I don't think we're thinking about that at all, to be honest. All we're thinking about is tomorrow's game.”
Thinking Outside the Box
Presidents Cup participants beyond the Prezzy
Kurtis Woodland, Six Nations Rivermen
At the 2018 Founders Cup, Woodland had one of the great tournaments anyone has ever had at the Canadian Jr B championship. Woodland, a lefty forward, had almost enough assists to lead the tournament in scoring even without scoring a goal. His 24 assists for the champion Elora Mohawks was just 3 fewer than the 27 points that placed Kelson Borisenko second on the tournament scoring chart. Woodland, also, by the way, did lead the tournament in goals with 16, giving him a remarkable 40 points in five games as the Mohawks went undefeated on the way to gold.
🥍 All games can be seen live and free on the JVI Sports Network YouTube channel.
🥍 Nick Damude was in demand this summer and the Snake Island Muskies managed to land him. He was a huge difference maker for them in an exciting seven-game Three Nations League final against the reigning Presidents Cup silver medalist Akwesasne Bucks and is already showing how important he will be if they want to succeed at this tournament. Tuscarora outshot the Muskies 46-45; while the Tomahawks may not have generated oodles of high-quality chances, they had opportunities to get back into the game several times and Damude made the critical stops when they were needed. Damude followed up that game with another strong performance, albeit in a losing cause, in Snake Island's evening game against Kahnawake.
🥍 The Ladner Pioneers have so much confidence in their defence and goalie Christian Del Bianco that they regularly sit back from passing lanes waiting to drive out and try to pick off passes. Sam Clare and Jakob Doucet in particular will go after them. Clare scored a beauty of a breakaway goal after stealing a pass across the top of the Edmonton offensive formation.
🥍 It is great to hear Matthew Caruk doing play by play for Presidents Cup games. He has been involved in front of and behind the camera for years and has a knack for learning to do a broad variety of roles: announcing, replay, directing...Caruk has been attending the College of Sports Media and has really stepped up his game as an announcer. He was outstanding as the primary voice of the OJLL this summer.
🥍 Brine Rice had an early candidate for goal of the tournament: covered closely by a defender in the slot, Rice fought off a defender with his right hand while he caught the ball and buried an underhand shot with just his left on the stick.
🥍 Mike Triolo is a force. The 6'8” righty was quiet in the first period for Edmonton but really got going in second and wound up with at least 4 goals (1 was credited to him but was actually scored by Tristan Rai). Working with Levi Anderson on the left side, the duo can be deadly. They tied for the RMLL playoff scoring lead with 35 points each. Anderson led the Miners with 7 points off of 2 goals and 5 assists.
🥍 When you find a shooting spot that is working, keep on working it. Tyler Pace scored back to back goals to the far top corner a minute apart in the third period for Ladner, then Jake Carey put the ball in the same spot on a transition break two minutes after that. Carey's goal tied the game 9-9, setting the stage for Zach Herreweyers' winner.
🥍 A Skkylar Thomas non-goal in the closing seconds of the second period between Kahnawake and Snake Island highlights one of the key difference between the NLL-style rules that many fans are more familiar with and the Lacrosse Canada rules under which the Presidents Cup is played. Thomas took a pass on the back side of the play, drove to the crease and reached to tuck the ball home on the far side of the net after diving across the crease. It was the kind of goal that made him a highlight-reel staple in the PBLA over the winter. In that league, though, the goal is good as long as it crosses the goal line before the player touches down in the crease or touches the goalie. In Lacrosse Canada rules, a goal is disallowed if the player's foot or feet enters the imaginary cylinder rising from the line forming the crease. The feet of Thomas, who is wonderfully skilled but one of the shorter players on the floor, were clearly well inside that cylinder, making the no-goal call the correct one.
🥍 Joe Resetarits and Stephen Keogh put on a pick and roll clinic on a goal that pulled the Snake Island Muskies within a goal at 7-6 with five minutes to play
🥍 Each team has to play two games on one of the five days of round-robin play so that they can get in the six games they need to play. On Day 1, that task fell to Snake Island. Teams playing their second game of the day at the Prezzy historically have a terrible winning percentage. It is very difficult to play well for 60 full minutes in your second game and that held true for the Muskies, who were outscored 5-2 in the second and third periods against Kahnawake.
The Muskies face a bit of a triple whammy given a quirk of the schedule that sees them following up their two-game day with an early start on Day 2, when they face Six Nations in one of two games with 10:00 am faceoffs (one game will be played on the TRAC's red pad).
🥍 Three teams have doubleheader days on Day 2. The Tuscarora Tomahawks could find themselves in deep trouble for trying to be among the fop four teams who will make the playoffs if they struggle tomorrow, facing Edmonton at 10 am then host Oakville at 8 pm.
Edmonton and Six Nations, both participants in one of the 10 am games, get to avoid the challenge of playing their second game of the day against a fresh club as they face each other at 5 pm.
🥍 Joe Resetarits leads the tournament in scoring with 4 goals and 4 assists on Day 1, while Levi Anderson is the top scorer among players who only played one game with his 7 points.