It’s official: Six Nations Rebels are the first franchise in Canada to win the Founders Cup title five times (1997, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012) following a thrilling 8-7 win over Akwesasne Indians in the Founders Cup tournament final Sunday evening at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) before 2,700-plus passionate lacrosse fans.
The title comes fresh on the heels of the Rebels winning the Battle of Ontario, taking the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) Junior B lacrosse title, also by beating the Akwesasne Indians.
Long heralded as the most competitive division in lacrosse, first place Junior B lacrosse teams from across Canada descended upon the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory to compete for the coveted Founders Cup. The Founders Cup is the culmination of skill and stamina and is awarded to Canada’s Junior B lacrosse champions. A total of ten teams will competed from August 14–19, at the ILA on Six Nations.
In 1972 the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) inaugurated the first Founders Cup trophy, which commemorates the founders of organized lacrosse. While the game of lacrosse is known as the Creator’s Game by Indigenous Peoples, Dr. George W. Beers of Montreal is regarded as the father of organized lacrosse and penned the first rulebook. In 1867 Dr. Beers was instrumental in organizing the National Lacrosse Association, which has now come to be known as the CLA.
The proud and heralded lacrosse community of Six Nations truly believes that Haudenosaunee children are born with sticks in their hands. Statistics show that Six Nations produces the highest number of National Lacrosse League (NLL) players on the continent, with the Six Nations Rebels Association contributing 28 drafted players to NLL teams alone.
The Rebels would never trail in this rematch with Akwesasne and were led by Zed Williams, the highest scoring high school player in New York State history, who had five assists on the night. Six Nations Ian Martin would score the eventual game-winning goal with 6:17 remaining. Indians Kyle Lewis scored with under four minutes left to cut the lead to 8-7, but that would be as close as Akwesasne would get in the final frenzied few minutes of play. Both teams had 17 shots in the third period to give the Rebels a shooting edge of 49-48 edge in shots for the entire contest. For full boxscore and other information on the final and the entire tournament, go to FoundersCup2012.com.
The Rebels (4-1-1) earned their ticket to the Cup finals with a 19-8 win over Onondaga Redhawks (3-2-0) Saturday night at the ILA before 1,400-plus fans. The Akwesasne Indians (5-0-0) defeated the Calgary Mountaineers (3-1-1) 11-8 the previous game to renew the battle of the two First Nations Jr B teams. The Rebels defeated Akwesasne 3-0 in the best-of-five Ontario Jr B finals earlier in the month.
The Rebels were playing with heavy hearts, as they had tragically lost their teammate Carney Elijah Johnson after Game 2 of the OLA finals. Johnson, a Rebels defensive/transition player, walked on Monday, August 6. The club announced the passing on their website. No details were released, but the team did offer this message:
“It is with Great Sadness and Sorrow, the Six Nations Rebels lacrosse team has lost the heart and soul of their 2012 squad, Carney Elijah Johnson (November 12, 1992 to August 6, 2012) has passed away. Our condolences go out to Tom Johnson and Anita Deats Hill and their family for the lost of their son.”
Johnson was a third-year player with the Rebels and this season had 33 points (11-22) in 15 regular season games this summer. In 12 playoff games, he had 5-9 for 14 points, including a goal in last Sunday’s Game 2 finals win over Akwesasne. The Rebels have posted a moving video tribute to the young man on their site. To view, go to SixNationsJrBRebels.com.
But on the field this has been a stellar year for the Six Nations Rebels. These young Haudenosaune men have earned the right to say that in Junior B lacrosse, it truly is a Rebels Nation.