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U9 Rockhounds enjoy first tournament appearance and then some
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The first rep lacrosse experience for the Sudbury U9 Rockhounds was a memorable one, to be sure.

Taking part in the 2022 Ray Broadworth Memorial B/C/D Tournament in Gloucester earlier in July, the locals not only got their first taste of competitive OLA (Ontario Lacrosse Association) action, they even played a bonus game, courtesy of the host team, just to ensure they would qualify for provincials.

Sudbury managed to hang with the eventual tournament champs in game one, losing an 8-6 match-up to Kahnawake, the score remaining respectable in large part due to the goaltending exploits of game MVP Jack Wilson.

The Rockhounds offense in that contest was generated largely by the trio of Hector Medland, Arlo Angus and Daxton Wabano.

Angus was on the mark again in game two, recording a third period hat trick as part of a four goal performance as Sudbury played to a 6-6 tie with Akwesasne. Laughlin Hagen and Hector Medland rounded out the scoring, with Angus earning game MVP honours.

Their best defensive effort of the weekend would see the northerners outscore the host Gloucester Griffins handily in their next outing, with game MVP accolades shared by Athena Carriere (exceptional with her loose ball retrievals) and Laughlin Hagen (rock solid on defense for the winners).

The Medland/Angus duo were again front and centre on the attack, joined this time more often than not by Tucker Robitaille.

A berth in the final would go awry thanks to a 5-4 upset of Akwasasne over Kahnawake, with Sudbury making the most of their bronze medal game appearance, tripling the Griffins 9-3.

Though hat-tricks by Arlo Angus and Hector Medland and solo tallies from Laughlin Hagen and Daxton Wabano allowed for more than ample scoring, it was the playmaking abilities of Zayden McGregor that would earn a game MVP shootout, helping to slow down the play and allowing his teammates to get into better position for shooting.

Needing one additional game to ensure that they had played enough to qualify for the all-Ontario playdowns, the Rockhounds were graciously confronted by the Gloucester Griffins after completion of tournament play.

An 8-4 victory was nice (goals by Medland, Angus, Robitaille, Hagen), but it was the sportsmanship of the host team that truly deserved to be celebrated. Well, that and the persistence of game co-MVPs Justin Gouin, who took a number of big hits and bounced back into the play the very next shift, and Jimmy Simpson, an absolute monster in battling for loose balls.

Rounding out the Rockhounds roster are Luna Bertrand-Thrush, Nwaabdasse Trudeau and Msko-Mgizi-Kwe Ashawasega, with Mike Wilson (coach), Griffin Simpson (assistant coach), Dan Gouin (trainer) and Angela Simpson (manager) handling the bench duties.

"The kids were an absolute joy to coach," noted Wilson. "They were full of energy and displayed sportsmanship throughout the event. For a team that got a late start to the year, they really came together and played like a team from the very first whistle."

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