The Six Nations Arrows came up a bit short in their quest to win the Minto Cup, the Canadian Junior A lacrosse championship.
But the Arrows can still take pride in the fact they won an Ontario crown this season, thus advancing further than many had originally anticipated.
Arrows' coach Randy Chrysler had predicted his side was capable of winning the Minto Cup in 2004 when he was hired earlier this year. He admits he took his share of heat from critics who felt the Six Nations side, which had struggled in recent seasons, would be a middle-of-the-pack club and not a legitimate contender for a championship in the 11-team Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA).
The Arrows ended up with a 13-7-0 regular season record, good for fourth place in the OLA standings. Six Nations then won three playoff series to capture the Ontario title.
The Arrows required the maximum seven games before beating the Whitby Warriors 4-3 in the best-of-seven OLA final. Six Nations defeated the Warriors 10-6 in game seven held on Aug. 21 in Whitby.
With that victory, the Arrows advanced to the four-team Minto Cup tournament. Games at the national tournament were held in Burnaby and Victoria, B.C.
Other players were Burnaby Lakers, Victoria Junior Shamrocks and Edmonton Miners.
Arrows' brass was not thrilled with the tournament format. All teams played three round-robin games, once against each of the other participating clubs.
The team with the best record received a berth into the best-of-three championship final. The second- and third-place finishers then played an extra game to determine the other finalist.
The Arrows registered a 2-1 round-robin record for a second-place finish. But Six Nations had its season come to an end when it was defeated 10-9 in overtime by Victoria in the game which determined the other finalist.
Burnaby won the tournament, sweeping Victoria 2-0 in the best-of-three final, which concluded Sept. 3. The Lakers won the opener 6-3 and followed that up with a 13-5 victory.
Both Chrysler and Arrows' general manager Todd Monture criticized the tournament format. They felt the top two finishers following round-robin action should have directly advanced to the final.
"That was kind of nonsense to play the extra game," said Monture, whose son Stewart is the Arrows' captain.
Chrysler also voiced his displeasure with the tournament format. "It's crazy," he said. "Why call it round-robin if you play all those games and just eliminate one team? After playing everybody, I think the top two teams should have gone to the final."
After reflection, Chrysler said he doesn't mind having predicted a national title this season.
"If you set mediocre goals, you're going to be a mediocre person," he said.
Since he doesn't mind shooting high, Chrysler has already predicted the Arrows will also be participating at the 2005 Minto Cup tournament. That event will be held in Calgary next August.
"Write it," Chrysler said. "We'll be back in Calgary."