With the likes of veterans Sid Smith, Jeff Shattler and Brett Bucktooth leading the way, the newest wave of indigenous stars have been on full display. Wednesday was a perfect example in their 17-4 victory over the Czech Republic at Onondaga Arena.
Among those young guns are Johnny Powless, Randy Staats and Wenster Green.
The Iroquois Nationals are also boasting an even younger group, featuring Brier Jonathan, Miles Thompson, Lyle Thompson, and 17-year-old Austin Staats.
“It’s pretty unbelievable playing at this level at his age,” Iroquois Nationals head coach Rich Kilgour said. “This (Tuesday’s win over England) was his first game in there. Austin proved he isn’t out of place. We didn’t bring him here for window dressing or to say we have a 17-year-old. We brought him here because of his skill and talent. I think anyone who watched the game will realize how good he is now, and that he has an even brighter future ahead of him.”
No stranger to scoring goals, Austin Staats, the younger brother of Randy, had a fantastic season with the Six Nations Arrows, leading the now two-time Canadian junior A champions in scoring during the regular season with 41 goals and 50 assists in 17 games. In the post season he added 33 goals and 29 assists in 13 playoff games en route to the Minto Cup.
Those scoring ways continued in his first game at the WILC, scoring once and adding one assist. Wednesday he netted three goals against the Czechs.
“It’s a dream come true. I never expected to be playing at a tournament like this, this soon,” the younger Staats said. “I’ve always dreamed of putting on the Iroquois Nationals jersey and it came true today. It’s a true honour to play this tournament here. It’s a great chance to show the world what we have.”
Jonathan is another young player who has had an impact on the defensive and transition side of the ball.
He won a Minto Cup with the Arrows in 2014, and spent time with the Oakville Rock of Major Series Lacrosse, and is the property of the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks.
“Brier is another young guy. We have four or five guys that are younger, and fresh out of junior, or under 25,” Kilgour said. “To be playing at this level at a world tournament says a lot about them and what your talent is like.”
Like the other young players, such as backup goalies Gowa Abrams and Warren Hill, Jonathan is taking in everything he can from this tournament.
“I’m getting the knowledge of the older guys and I’m trying to be like a sponge and soak it all in,” Jonathan said. “I’m doing everything I can to improve my game.
“It’s great playing along side guys like Bucktooth, Sid and Jammer (Cody Jamieson),” he said. “I grew up watching those guys, and now I’m playing along side of them. It’s a true honour to wear this jersey and play next to them.”
As for playing the world championships on native soil for the first time, the young players are embracing things, just as the veterans are.
“It’s not pressure at all playing in front of our people,” Jonathan said. “We’re embracing that. We are feeding off the energy the crowd has given us.”
“We all realize how special this is,” Staats said. “It’s an honour, not pressure. We love it.”
Lyle Thompson led the Iroquois Nationals with four goals, while Austin Staats and Miles Thompson netted three apiece. Randy Staats pitched in with two goals, Roger Vyse, Tyler Garrison, Brandon Goodwin, Jeff Shatler, and Tommy Montour all scored one each.
The Iroquois Nationals have clinched a spot in Friday’s semifinals, and will wait and see who they face at 7:30 p.m.
Media Relations, Iroquois Nationals