Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chiefs run away with Game 5 11-6, take 3-2 MSL finals lead over Lakers

For the first time in the Major Series Lacrosse finals, the Six Nations Chiefs were able to put some distance between them and the Peterborough Lakers. Doing so led to a convincing 11-6 Game 5 victory at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena Monday night that gives the Chiefs a 3-2 lead in the series.

The Chiefs got the first goal again—they've done so in every game in the series—and were up 3-1 before Curtis Dickson finished off a first-period hat trick to get the Lakers back even heading into the intermission. The first two minutes of the second period would prove to make a huge difference in the game.

Kasey Beirnes, Johnny Powless and Randy Staats scored in the span of a minute and a half and the Chiefs had jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the blink of an eye. The Lakers fought back to within a goal but Six Nations pulled away again and led 9-6 after 40 minutes. Brandon Miller continued to be stellar in the Chiefs' net and Peterborough couldn't beat him at all in the third period.

Six Nations was getting more time to set up and step into outside shots than they have in previous games. “Our game plan was, try not to settle for what they're giving us,” Smith said. “They have a game plan, their defence. We noticed the first two games we were just settling for those shots. We worked a little bit harder, we're getting those shots and we're lucky to bury.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chiefs even up MSL finals with 8-6 win in Game 4

Brandon Miller is used to coming up big in big games. He did it again Sunday, leading the Six Nations Chiefs to an 8-6 win to tie up the best of seven MSL finals at two games each. (File photo: Kevin Light)

Stepping in to turn the tide is getting to be a habit for Brandon Miller. In 2013, he didn't play a minute in the playoffs but took over in the Mann Cup and helped the Six Nations Chiefs win the trophy for the first time since 1996. Last year, he split the playoffs with Evan Kirk and entered Game 7 of the MSL finals with the Chiefs trailing 4-1; they rebounded to win 9-5 and Miller went on to be the MVP of the Mann Cup as Six Nations earned back to back titles.

If the Chiefs head to Victoria to try to repeat their three-peat of the mid-90s, it will be largely thanks to Miller again. He stepped in for Dillon Ward in Game 2 of this year's MSL finals and, while he couldn't salvage that 18-14 loss, Miller has been the main man as the Chiefs have won back to back games to even the series including Sunday night's 8-6 win in which he stopped 49 of the 55 shots he faced.

Both wins have come with Kirk in net for the Lakers and playing outstanding lacrosse, as well. But Miller has made the stops the Chiefs needed to have and in Game 4 Ryan Benesch found his scoring touch to make the difference at the other end. Benesch entered the game with 4 goals in seven playoff games but connected five times and added a pair of assists.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Critical Game 4 goes off at 7 pm Sunday in Peterborough

Game 4 is often the key to a best of seven series. That certainly looks like it could be the case tonight as the Six Nations Chiefs travel to Peterborough to take on the Lakers in the fourth game of the 2015 Major Series Lacrosse finals.

The Lakers won the first two games and came back to tie up Game 3 in the third period, but ultimately the Chiefs pulled out a 7-6 win that kept them from falling into an almost insurmountable hole.

Now the fourth game represents either a chance for the Lakers to grab a stranglehold with a 3-1 series lead and put themselves within one win of a trip to Victoria to battle for the Mann Cup, or a chance for the Chiefs to build momentum towards taking aim at their third straight national title.

The game is available via a free live webcast by JVI Sports Network at 7 pm ET Sunday night. To watch the game, follow this link to JVI's web site and click on the viewer box in the left column of the screen.

Contrary to rumour, Brooklin Redmen are looking forward to 50th anniversary season in 2016

To paraphrase the great Mark Twain, reports of the demise of the Brooklin Redmen have been greatly exaggerated.  A Twitter post by Peterborough Lakers' television colour commentator Scott Arnold evoked a flurry in the Twitterverse. Arnold tweeted that he had heard the Redmen would not be returning to Major Series Lacrosse in 2016.

Brooklin president Dean Link was understandably angry about the post given that he is in the process of preparing for what is an historic season for the Redmen next summer, including negotiating with potential sponsors. The team is looking forward to celebrating its 50th season next year.

"Regarding the Twitter comment from Mr. Arnold, I do not know him or who his 'legitimate' source is, or what their motive might be, but there are no plan to fold the Brooklin Redmen," Link said. "Certainly Mr. Arnold has not spoken to me. I have been in touch with our team GM, assistant coach, social media director and team captain and no one seems to know where this is coming from. As a community owned and volunteer run team, we don't have an individual owner who could simply choose to fold the team so this assertion just doesn't make any sense."

Link said that in the last few weeks, the team has "working on adding sponsors, putting together articles and events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Redmen next season, preparing for our fall AGM, etc. There has been nothing else in the works, other than preparing for the 2016 season."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Six Nations beats Peterborough 7-6 to get their first win in Game 3 of MSL finals

Billy Dee Smith checks Turner Evans during Six Nations' 7-6 Game 3 win in the MSL finals. (Photo: Six Nations Chiefs)

The Six Nations Chiefs did what they needed to do, edging the Peterborough Lakers 7-6 in Game 3 for their first win of the 2015 Major Series Lacrosse championship series Friday. Stephen Keogh scored the winning goal just past the midway point in the third period of a game that reverted to a defensive struggle like Game 1 after the Lakers had beaten the Chiefs 18-14 in Thursday night's Game 2 shootout.

Dhane Smith had a hat trick, Randy Staats 2 goals and an assist Colin Doyle 4 assists for the Chiefs. Curtis Dickson had 2 sensational shorthanded goals and an assist for Peterborough and Shawn Evans chipped in a pair of goals.

Both goalies were excellent. Brandon Miller made 29 saves on 35 shots for Six Nations and Peterborough's Evan Kirk stopped 33 of the 40 shots he faced.

Miller said he was focused on the basics after struggling when he replaced Dillon Ward in Game 2. “I just tried to come in with a fresh start, see the ball and react,” Miller said. “If you're worried about that Dickson kid, who's something else, and this Evans that someone tells me about...if you're worried about where those guys are going to shoot you'll get beat, because they go everywhere. So it's just get back to seeing the ball and trying to react.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lakers outscore Chiefs 18-14 in wild game, take 2-0 finals lead

Zach Currier had several chances in the MSL finals before the Jr A callup finally got on the board, batting home the ball for this goal to make it 16-12 for Peterborough in the third period. (Photo: Tim Prothero) 

What a difference a couple of days can make. After just 10 goals were scored by the Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs in Game 1 of the Major Series Lacrosse finals Tuesday night, the teams combined for 18 in the second period alone in Thursday's Game 2. Shawn Evans had a remarkable and historical night, scoring 7 goals and 7 assists to lead the Lakers to an 18-14 win that gives them a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series. The teams get right back at it in a series that is quickly turning into a classic and you can watch Game 3 at 8pm ET Friday night via JVI Sports Network's live webcast.

The teams were tied 3-3 after an exciting first period that had the Peterborough Memorial Centre crowd of 3,293 rocking. That was just a warmup, though. Peterborough outscored Six Nations 10-8 in a wild and wooly second period that included some spectacular plays and never saw a stretch of longer than 2:23 without a goal.

The tide looked to be turning the Chiefs way when Stephen Keogh—who missed Tuesday's game because of illness—scored his third of four goals in the game at 4:08 and Jay Thorimbert grabbed the ball as it came down from a high bounce and skipped it between Matt Vinc's legs just seven seconds later to go up 7-4.

The Lakers responded quickly, taking advantage of a too many men penalty and then a holding call to Brodie Merrill; they scored on both power plays (they would go four for six on the power play in the game while Six Nations failed to score on three man advantages).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

IN-VINC-ABLE Performance

Matt Vinc is shining in net for the Peterborough Lakers in the playoffs. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
Story courtesy Craig Rybczynski, Rochester Knighthawks
Goalie Matt Vinc has made a career out of winning big games. On Tuesday night, he again showed why he is one of the most accomplished goalie in lacrosse. Vinc turned aside 41 shots in a 6-4 Peterborough win over the first-place Six Nations Chiefs in Game 1 of the Major Series Lacrosse Finals.
“By far he was the best player on the floor,” said Peterborough Lakers defenseman Mike Kirk. “We had some breakdowns and took some penalties in the second, but he bailed us out every time. He was just awesome.”
Game 1 was a goaltending duel between Lakers’ Vinc and the Chiefs’ Dillon Ward, who were both stellar in the series’ opening game. The two netminders combined for 37 saves in the first period as the teams battled to a 2-2 tie after one. The second period featured only three goals as Ward and Vinc fought off numerous transition opportunities. In the final period, however, Peterborough broke open the game early in the third on goals by Cory Vitarelli and Curtis Dickson (3+2) to build a 6-3 lead.
It was in the fourth that Vinc made his best saves of the game. With the game tightening up at 6-4 and Six Nations putting on the pressure, he stopped 88-point man Ryan Benesch on the doorstep and then batted away the rebound attempt by Johnny Powless – while lying on his back.
“He is a big game guy,” said Lakers defenseman Scott Self. “He has played in Mann Cups, Minto Cups and Champion’s Cups. The pressure definitely doesn’t get to Matty. It’s just another big game for him.”