Blue Devils upset Six Nations
London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney /:London Community News
Story by Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
The London Blue Devils had been waiting for Sunday’s (April 22) Ontario Jr. B Lacrosse League season opener at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre against the defending champions Six Nations Rebels for a while.
“We wanted them game one or game two,” said Blue Devils’ head coach and general manager Jeff Williamson. “Get that (game) and see where we stand a bit. Sort of a barometer.”
If the home opener was any indication of how London will fair this season than the team should exceed last year’s first ever playoff appearance, falling in the first round to the Elora Mohawks.
The Blue Devils and Rebels battled it out in a seesaw match that came down to a next-goal-wins scenario, and even the home crowd was as stunned as the defending champs when London’s Andrew Campbell scored with just over three minutes left in the game, putting the last touch on a 10-9 final.
“This is a big trademark,” Campbell said, finishing the night as the game’s first star with two goals and two assists — a team high. “Now we’re the team to beat.”
Both teams pushed the pace and hit hard, not letting each other get any rest except for the occasional timeout.
London carried the largest lead, four goals, at the midway point of the second period, but Blue Devils’ goalie Tyler Glebe let four balls slip by in a little over three minutes to even the game 7-7 after 40 minutes. The teams continued to trade shots in the third period until Campbell’s game winner.
The second-year London netminder stood tall throughout the game and made the big saves when it mattered, holding last season’s league-leading goal-getters to nothing in the final eight minutes.
“There’s some I should have had that would have made the game a lot easier,” Glebe said, arriving to the arena more than two hours before game time in anticipation for the heavy matchup. “We came out knowing we could compete with them and definitely beat them too. We came out hard and won.”
Last season, London played the Rebels in an embarrassing 16-6 loss, but this time around the Blue Devils answered any questions of being able to keep up.
London went four-for-nine on the power play and, at least for one game, cleaned up a penalty kill that was near the back of the league last year, leaving Six Nations one-for-nine on the man advantage.
“If we would have brought our A-game, I think the score would have been a little higher,” Williamson said. “There were a couple of mental lapses in the game, but we battled through.”
At times the bench boss would ditch his response mid-sentence and finish his answer with, “I’m just so happy about this,” in sheer giddiness.
Some of the mental lapses Williamson is speaking about mostly came early in the game, and maybe somewhat expected to the coach with the Blue Devils adding seven new rookies to the 18-player roster. Six Nations unveiled some new talent of their own with 14 new bodies in Rebels uniform with 22 players dressed Sunday.
London’s fresh faces were able to keep up with their Six Nation counterparts with seven points coming from three Blue Devils’ rookies and 12 from six young Rebels.
The Blue Devils next game will be at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre against the Orangeville Northmen on Friday (April 27) starting at 8 p.m.
“We got a long way to go still and there will be some bumps along the road,” Williamson said. “But, this is a huge, huge victory to build off of.”
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