Braedan Tulini hauled in an outlet pass from goaltender Eric Paquette and took care of the rest himself, breaking a 4-4 tie with just over five minutes to play and lifting the Rock to a 5-4 win over the Rush in the midget/intermediate final in Copper Cliff late last week.
The contest appeared well in hand heading in to the third period after Nick Marion, Ryder Thususka and Curtis Bennett provided the Rock with a 3-0 lead. But a goal from Tristan Simeoni, right off the faceoff, just six seconds into the final frame provided the necessary spark for the Rush.
Dalton Ghent and Julian Simeoni failed to convert on a two-on-one just over a minute later, but the rebound off the end boards went directly to teammate Spencer Dailey, who pulled the trigger in the slot, narrowing the gap to 3-2.
Tulini got that one back in a hurry, stealing a page from the Simeoni playbook to start the frame, but the goal parade would not subside. Julian Simeoni and Kurtis Watson pulled the Rush even, setting the stage for Tulini's second of the game, as the AAA hockey forward made his return to the GSLA after a few summers away.
"Lacrosse was a big part of my life when I was younger, but then I focused on hockey," Tulini said after the game. "But my buddies were all talking to me a lot about coming back. The cradling and shooting in lacrosse really helps out with your wrists for hockey."
While his effectiveness may have been somewhat more limited back in April, there was little doubt that Tulini was back up to speed by the time the championship matchup rolled around.
"I never really lost the skill level," he explained. "I was a little bit rusty at the start, but then I got back into it and got my legs back, my arms back."
The game provided one final GSLA hurrah for the likes of Curtis Bennett and Rush goaltender Dan Ingriselli, both of whom graduate from the intermediate ranks this year.
Over at the Toe Blake Arena on Sunday afternoon, the GSLA Peewee crew was closing off the festivities in much the same way the senior boys had kicked things off. Connor Coutu scored a pair of second-period goals 72 seconds apart as the Rock slipped past the Mammoth 3-2, with both teams surviving close calls in the morning semifinals.
Max McCue, with a short-handed effort, closed out the scoring for the winners, with Ben Harris scoring twice in a losing cause for the Mammoth. The Rock advanced thanks to a 1-0 win over the Rush as Ty Parsons netted the only goal, while the Mammoth doubled the Bandits 4-2 in the remaining peewee semifinal.
In Bantam play, the Roughnecks proved to be the class of the houseleague field, blanking the Rock 5-0 in the final as Spencer Lavallee drilled a hat trick and Shane Buttineau posted the shutout.
Shaylene Peltier-Restoule and Matthew Savoie also found the back of the net for the Roughnecks. In the Bantam consolation final, the Rush downed the Wings 7-1 with Lindon Shanks and Austin Hill scoring two goals apiece.
Following is a cross-section of scores from various divisions on the weekend:
Rush 8 (Corbett Valiquette-2, Graydon Bain-2, Quaid Edwards, Nickolas Burke,
Hudson Crowder, Samuel Dumais)
Rock 2 (Nathan Audette-2)
Rock 9 (Brek Morrow-4, Mason Lachance-2, Owen Parsons, Braeden Morin, A.J. Rondina)
Rush 5 (Oliver Côté-5)
Stealth 6 (Sam McCue-2, Logan Faught, Korbyn Payne-2, Brandon Salem)
Roughnecks 5 (Jack Moskalyk-2, Cameron Shanks-2, Jack Stos)
Rock 7 (Connor Coutu-3, Max McCue-2, Ben Doucette, Colin Bardswich)
Swarm 5 (Braedan Watson-3, Gianluca Ongaro, Logan Nicholls)
Stealth 8 (Sebastien Chartrand-2, Cedrik Jutras-2, Parker Farstad-2, Nolan Peltier Restoule, Bradley Bertrand)
Mammoth 7 (Michael Lewis-2, Maxim Dumais-2, Ta Mbvaimbvai, Carter Wright, Ben Harris)
Roughnecks 2 (Ethan Teeter-2)
Rush 1 (Zak Thompson)
Bandits 6 (Lucas Howland-2, Nicholas Faught, Ethan Rogers, Nolan Marion, Peter Murphy)
Wings 5 (Cameron Walker-4, Dominique Roy)
Roughnecks 4 (Patrick Musico-3, Emily Healy)
Wings 4 (Philippe Larochelle-2, Matti Allen-2)
While this wraps up the houseleague season for the GSLA talent, the Rockhounds rep teams are still busy through until August, with the association hosting the annual Nickel City Shootout from July 4-6.