Tyendinaga Thunderbirds are the 2016 Three Nations Senior Lacrosse League champions – an unlikely outcome back in May. After an 0-3 start to their season (TNSLL teams play a crossover schedule against QSLL teams) the Thunderbirds would finish 5-9 in the regular season, second behind St. Regis Braves (9-5).
Head-to-head the Braves swept the regular season series, winning all four matchups (14-8, 9-8, 12-9, 13-9) against Tyendinaga. But playoffs are a new season and the Thunderbirds embraced the challenge.
A best-of five semifinal series against Caughnawaga Indians ended quickly as the T-birds swept in three games. The team carried that momentum into the finals and stole Game 1 of the finals by defeating St. Regis 11-10 on their own floor. Alex Kedoh Hill and Ben Green each scored four goals to lead the offense.
The setting changed for Game 2 played in Kingston and the Thunderbirds used home floor advantage to win 8-6. Tim Bergin (3 goals, 2 assists) led all scorers while goaltender Trey Adams was excellent in net.
Trailing in the series 2-0, St. Regis refused to give up. Despite a seven-point effort by Kedoh Hill (3 goals, 4 assists) the Braves would win Game 3 by the score of 14-11.
Still confident, Tyendinaga were going home for Game 4 played at Deseronto Community Centre. A raucous crowd were ready to witness history and see the Thunderbirds win their first-ever league championship.
Early on it looked as if a fifth and deciding game may be needed as St. Regis took control from the opening faceoff and led 5-3 after one period. That advantage grew to 11-7 by second intermission with the regular season winners hoping to force the series back to Massena Arena.
Tyendinaga would not be denied on this night. Led by Jordan Thomas, who scored seven goals, the Thunderbirds completed the comeback in the third to clinch the series and berth to the Presidents Cup. Tim Bergin, Haodais Maracle and Kedoh Hill all contributed six points in the win while Joe Hall added a goal and four assists.
Thunderbirds Presidents Cup schedule
Monday, Aug. 29 vs Native Sons, 10:30 AM
Tuesday, Aug. 30 vs Kahnawake Mohawks, 4:30 PM
Wednesday, Aug. 31 vs Langley Warriors, 1:30 PM
Thursday, Sept. 1 vs TBD