Halifax Hustle captured their first league championship on Thursday night, winning the Nova Scotia Senior Lacrosse League (NSSLL) in Sackville. The Hustle defeated the Halifax Colby Pool Sharks 7-5 in Game 2 of the NSSLL Finals to sweep the series and capture the Harrison Cup.
Formed in 2011 with the rebirth of the Nova Scotia league, Halifax Hustle struggled their first four seasons. Finishing at or near the bottom of the four-team standings, their fortunes changed in 2015 when the Hustle finished 7-3-1 during the regular season and earn the top seed for the league playoffs. A two-game sweep over the Bedford Fighting Orangutans in the semifinals sent the team to the finals flying with confidence.
In the best-of 3 finals the Hustle would meet the Sharks, who upset second-seed Twin City Arrows in the semifinals. In Game 1 the Hustle turned a tightly contested affair into a route with five goals in the second period and 7-1 lead into the final frame. Hustle went on to secure a 9-1 victory.
Ian McShane scored four goals and added two helpers for a six point night. Colin Werle assisted on two of those McShane goals and finished with four assists on the night. Jay Titchmarsh (2 goals, 1 assist), Chris Taylor (2 goals) and Louis Martin (1 goal) rounded out scoring. Winning goaltender was Matt Cote.
Game 2 was a tighter affair, but the result the same as the Hustle swept the series with a 7-5 victory. Brett MacNeil scored the opening goal to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead, their first of the series. The Hustle answered minutes later when Gavin Abramson found the back of the net. First intermission had the teams even 1-1.
Sharks took the lead once again when Scott Berrigan scored at 11:10 of the second. Late period goals by Chris Taylor and Abramson saw the Hustle take their first lead of the game into the locker room with 20 minutes to play.
Momentum had taken a turn and the Hustle came out to the floor in the third period with drive to close the series. Ian McShane scored at 14:37 followed by a pair from Dan Axford and suddenly the score was 6-2. Sanchez Clarke did score three goals for the Sharks in the final 6:27 of the period, but it was too late. Halifax Hustle walked away with their first league championship!
The league now turns it attention to the 2015 Presidents Cup. A group of league all-stars will compete at the annual Senior B championship, this year held in St. Catharines, Ontario beginning August 31. Nova Scotia Privateers are in Pool B with host St. Catharines Saints (OSBLL), Capital Region Axemen (QSLL) and defending champion Onondaga Redhawks (Can-Am). 2015 will be the first appearance at Presidents Cup by a Nova Scotia representative since 1990.
Past NSSLL champions
2011: Twin City Arrows
2012: Privateers LC
2013: Halifax Shamrocks
2014: Twin City Arrows
2015: Halifax Hustle