Tehorakwaneken Albany is part of the new generation at Survival that will have to push their game to the max when they face six-time champions Billings today. (Jessica Deer, The Eastern Door)
The 2018 Kahnawake Survival School Muskies took to the lacrosse field last Tuesday for the first time at home against Kuper Academy in GMAA action.
Survival plays six-time champion Howard S. Billings Blazers today in Chateauguay at 3:30 p.m. in the game of the season, and need to win after losing to Beaconsfield Monday 13-8.
The young Muskies’ squad was without a couple of key players against Kuper, and had trouble containing the early offensive onslaught from Kuper’s attackers, led by Kahnawa’kehró:non Anenharoton Patton.
Kuper jumped to an early lead and never let it slip, though Survival fought back, with Tehatokénhtha “Boo” McComber leading the charge from the faceoff circle.
McComber had four goals in the game, often winning the faceoff and heading straight for the Kodiak net.
In the end, Survival did not have enough and lost 16-10. Patton had six goals, and spoke about this year’s Kuper squad.
“I like the team, but the defence is a little bit small,” he said. “We’re going to find a way to work with it. Going into the playoffs, we’re going to try and make our game even better than this.”
Kuper was coming off back-to-back losses last week to Howard S. Billings and Beaconsfield, and Patton knows his team needs to do better if it’s to knock Billings off its perch of six straight GMAA titles.
“We couldn’t catch balls, we weren’t playing good defence, and transition goals are key,” he said. “They put a lot of goals in on us on transition.”
Kuper plays its final regular season game against the winless Westwood High School tomorrow.
McComber’s dominance in the faceoff circle is another problem the Kodiaks need to rectify.
“In field, faceoffs are really important,” said Patton. “Boo, every time he won, he would go and score right off the bat every time he had an odd man rush.”
For Survival, McComber knows having long pole Kobe McComber and attacker Karonhiawakon Diabo back in the lineup will help a lot. Both are playing hockey at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships this week.
Regardless, those playing now need to improve.
“We got a lot to work on,” said Boo McComber. “Passing and catching – fundamentals, really. We got to slow the ball down. We were running a little bit too fast. The poles need a little bit of practice and work on their slides.”
The two extra bodies are essential, and the team must work them into the fold as soon as they return, said Tehatokénhtha.
“We’ll just work on it when they get back,” he said. “We need them in the postseason.”
Billings’ second game against Westwood was cancelled Tuesday, and the Blazers got a taste of the new and improved Beaconsfield Thursday, and got a shock losing 9-8.
Billings was without key players Mathaus Mehlhorn, Reece Glover-Kirby and goalie Patrick Pollock.
Teams should take note not to take the speedy west island team lightly this year. Just ask the Kodiaks.
“They got better,” said Patton. “A lot better.”
The game of the season is today in Chateauguay when rivals Billings and Survival meet. Survival’s teams have had to collect silver medals for the past four years thanks to their yellow and blue neighbours, and will have a solid chance to show the team’s quality in the last game of the regular season.
Game starts at 3:30 p.m.