Saturday, September 10, 2016

Is it the pickles? Salty secret to Chiefs' playoff success

Austin Staats and the Chiefs are getting their drive from pickles in the 2016 post-season. (Photo; Tim Prothero)
Courtesy Six Nations Chiefs

When Dave Sowden arrives at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena for his Mann Cup preparations, he’s had a little extra cargo than usual.

For the last couple of weeks, the Chiefs’ light-hearted trainer has carried around a covered blue pale.

Its contents are about as key to the Chiefs’ success, as the return of Cody Jamieson.

“We started to bring the pale of pickles to the series in Brooklin,” Sowden said. “Some of the guys like them, so I thought I’d bring some along on the trip. Every game I brought pickles, we won. Even if they weren’t ready, the pickles were in the house.”

At the time it seemed to be a bit of a coincidence, so nobody thought too much about it. Only thing is, the players enjoyed what Sowden and offensive player Craig Point created.

Because of demand from friends and family, Sowden, not thinking anything of it, didn’t bring the pale of salty goodness to the first three games of the Major Series Lacrosse final. Suddenly they were down 0-3 to the Peterborough Lakers in the best-of-seven series.

Enter the pale of pickles and the crucial Game 4 against the Lakers.

“I had made more and some of the guys asked if I had any, so I told them I’d bring a pale to Game 4,” Sowden said. “I make about a bushel of cucumbers at a time. That makes two pales. We picked up another bushel, which made pales three and four in line with the games. Seriously, every time I brought the pickles with me to the arena, we won. So I kept doing it.”

As much as it may be superstition, the players have become fond of the brine pickles.

“There’s quite a few that eat them post game,” Sowden said. “Dillon Ward, (Ryan) Benesch, Jeremy Thompson is right into them. It’s funny to watch them. The guys get their pizza and then I’ll break out the pale of pickles and they’re into that.”

Sowden can’t hold his laughter back when he talks about what his hobby has turned in to.

“It’s just funny. I’m not sure how many people brine pickles. But it almost seems like a thing done here more,” Sowden said. “I know people make dill pickles and sweet pickles. The brine pickles seem to be unique to here.

“It all got started, last year when Craig (Point) and I decided to do it,” he said. “I know people have made them before and I never really acquired a taste for them. Some people like them salty, and some people don’t. The guy that showed me how to make them is young Ronnie Thomas. His pickles are just nice. They aren’t overly salty and they have a nice taste to them.”

Sowden will tell you where they got the cucumbers from, but he won’t tell you the recipe.

“If I told you, well you know,” Sowden said with a laugh. “We get them from farmer’s markets. Most of the time we get them in Hagersville. But since the season is almost over, Craig found the last two bushels in St. George. We just have enough pickles brewing for the Mann Cup.”