What’s it like to be the target in a shooting gallery?
Tristan McLoughlin knows the answer to that question after playing goalie for the Manitoba Selects at the 2013 Founders Cup, the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) Junior B championship held Aug. 19-25 in Winnipeg.
The former Comox Valley Wild boxla standout faced a plethora of shots and more than held his own at the eight-team affair. “The tourney went well,” McLoughlin said. “We ended up in seventh place, but no one hung their head down.
“We went into the tourney as underdogs and proved to the rest of Canada … that Manitoba can play lacrosse. I don’t remember having this much fun playing lacrosse for a while,” said McLoughlin.
“Everyone expected us to be blown out 20-0 every game. We instantly killed those thoughts in our first game against Nova Scotia. During that game our goalie, Ryan Smith, started and let in five goals in the first.
“I replaced him for the beginning of the second period and we ended up tying 10-10. I quote the announcers from that game: Announcer 1: ‘And Henry as you said Tristan McLoughlin is keeping the Selects in the game with a bunch of fantastic saves.’ Henry: ‘Yeah I’m really impressed by the goaltending.’ I ended up receiving MVP for that game,” McLoughlin said.
That performance earned McLoughlin the start in the Selects’ second game against the Calgary Mounties, the team that beat the Manitoba Gryphons 20-4 earlier in the season. (The Gryphons are the travelling team who play out of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League. The Selects were the best players from the Red River Lacrosse Association.) McLoughlin faced over 80 shots in a 19-11 loss, with 11 of the Gryphons’ goals coming on the power play.
Next up were Six Nations Rebels from Ontario, who would go on to win their third straight and sixth overall Founders Cup title. “We needed to be within 15 goals to capture third in our pool. Sounds easy? It wasn’t,” McLoughlin said.
“Six Nations had just finished roughing up Nova Scotia, the team we tied 10-10, 24-4…The odds were stacked highly against us. I started for the second game in a row. We ended up losing 18-4, but once again I faced well over 75 shots,” the 18-year-old McLoughlin recounted.
“What a game to be a goalie in! All I remember doing after the game was looking at my once blue, now black, shirt drenched with sweat. I rang it out and it sounded like a garden hose hitting the dressing room floor.”
After capturing third place by the slimmest of margins, the Selects played their first cross-over game against the Iroquois Lacrosse Association team. “They had not only NCAA Div. 1 players on their team, but NCAA leading scorer Lyle Thompson who had averaged about a hat trick a game against every other team,” McLoughlin said.
“Boy was his shot hard. I got the nod to start once again, and we tried our best to push forward. A win would guarantee us a spot in the bronze medal game at minimum. Thompson had breakaway after breakaway after breakaway, but I managed to keep him to just two goals. We ended the first 3-3 and were tied 7-7 in the third. But that’s as close as we could get. They ended up beating us 9-7.”
The Selects’ fifth game was a must-win against Quebec, who they beat 10-7 in a pre-tourney exhibition tilt. “Everyone had the mentality that we would win this game, even the coaches, and this was part of our downfall. They ended up starting Ryan to rest me for the game after.
“This was a mistake, in my mind, as well as other players’ opinions. After two periods we were down 9-5. I played the third and managed to shut out Quebec, but the damage had been done. We tried desperately to score, but only managed two more, and lost by another 9-7 decision,” said McLoughlin.
“I will give a strong recognition to the Quebec goalie who, in my opinion, was the main reason Quebec won. This was a heartbreaking loss, as we could have easily managed bronze had we beat Iroquois, or even the Tier 2 trophy had we beat Quebec.”
With a national championship on his resume, McLoughlin said he is hoping to continue playing at a higher level, and will look into playing for the Gryphons, “or any team that would like me to try out for them.”
BOXLA BANTER Six Nations beat Calgary 17-12 to win gold while Iroquois topped Nova Scotia 14-9 for bronze … the host Gryphons knocked off Quebec 12-1 to win the Tier 2 Trophy … McLoughlin led the Winnipeg Junior Shamrocks to second place in the RRLA this season … Thompson, a sophomore at University at Albany, led the nation in scoring this year with 113 points on 50 goals and 63 assists, two points shy of the all-time NCAA record … he also led the nation in points per game with 6.65, the 13th highest PPG for an individual in NCAA history …