The Oakville Hawks were finally rewarded with the gold medal in the Tier 1 division at the 26th annual Jack Crosby memorial novice all-star lacrosse tournament.
The Ontario team overwhelmed the New Westminster Salmonbellies 7-1 in the gold-medal final at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Sunday.
Oakville game MVP Justin Sykes scored a pair of goals, as did fellow Hawk runner Ryan O'Hara, who was credited with the eventual game-winning tally midway through the first period. Ben Doherty also potted a pair for the Hawks.
New Westminster's Noah Armitage, a runner on the Tier 1 MVP team, tied the score 1-1 early in the opening stanza with the novice 'Bellies only goal of the game.
New West's game MVP goalie Keegan Melenychuk stopped a host of shots in the Salmonbellies' net and was wholly responsible for keeping the score to single digits.
Oakville knocked off eventual bronze medallist Coquitlam Gold 7-3 in the semifinals, avenging a 10-7 loss to the Tri-City association in last year's novice final.
"It's just as rewarding (as a National Lacrosse League title), said Oakville coach Troy Cordingley, who coached the Toronto Rock to its sixth pro championship earlier this year. "You put time and effort into it. There's a lot of hard work put in to come out here."
Oakville won an intermediate title in its first appearance at the Crosby in 2008.
New Westminster upset overall pool leader Burnaby 6-5 in double overtime in the other semi on Saturday. But appeared to be the worse for it the following day against the clever short pass-and-catch game of the Eastern Canadians.
"We got progressively better from how we started the tournament and that's what we wanted," said New Westminster head coach Rich Peterson, who admitted his nine-and 10-year-olds had little left after last night's semifinal.
Melenychuk was again the difference in the win in double OT. Armitage proved the offensive hero, stealing a pass in the sudden-death period to bag the game-winner.
New West lost its first two games to eventual bronze medallist Coquitlam Gold and Oakville before tying Ridge Meadows 2-2 in pool play.
The novice 'Bellies then doubled Coquitlam Silver 6-3 before getting past Ridge Meadows again to advance to the semifinals.
Burnaby and Oakville finished undefeated with similar 4-0 records through the first two days of preliminary play.
But the Laker magic that had helped Burnaby rally to win gold at three previous novice tournaments this season was not enough to pull them through this time.
"We ran out of gas," said Burnaby co-coach Russ Heard. "Unfortunately we don't have the numbers the other teams have. ... We knew it was going to be a tall order to beat (Coquitlam) twice in a week."
The Lakers had defeated the Coquitlam all-star team 7-5 earlier in the week.
But the Lakers still gave a good account of themselves, rallying from a four-goal deficit to fall 7-5 in the bronze-medal match.
Burnaby goalie Matteo Tack was named the team's MVP player in the final game and was also voted to the Tier 1 MVP team.
Jayson Beauregard, Marcus Klarich, Milos Sukunda, Trevor O'Reilly and Cole Malmquist all scored in the the Lakers' final game.
Burnaby's Tier 3 team placed fourth overall with a 2-2 record.
A second New Westminster team finished in third place but dropped the bronze-medal final 11-3 to Port Coquitlam in Tier 2. Kai George of New West was named to the MVP team.
Juan de Fuca won the Tier 2 gold 12-8 over Saanich, while Peninsula took the gold at Tier 3 with a 14-9 win over another Saanich squad. PoCo also took the Tier 3 bronze.
Burnaby's Blair Nellis was selected to the Tier 3 MVP team.
But Cordingley, who has enjoyed his share of winning both on the floor and behind the bench in the NLL and Ontario's Major Series, did not lose sight of what the Crosby tournament is all about.
"To see the smiles on the (kid's) faces. That's the reward, and it's gentlemen like Jack Crosby who have made it possible for these kids," Cordingley said. "He also installed that in people like me."