Kurtis Wagar was one of several Lakers who enjoyed
a successful return Wednesday night. For Wagar, it was a
return to Brooklin where he used to play. He allowed only
6 goals as Peterborough won. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
The Peterborough Lakers enjoyed the return of John Grant, Jr. and Kyle Sorensen, taking an 8-6 win Wednesday night over the Brooklin Redmen that moved them into first place and set up a battle for top spot in Major Series Lacrosse tonight with the Six Nations Chiefs. Had the Redmen won, they would have leapfrogged the Lakers and moved into a first-place tie with Six Nations, although the Chiefs have two games in hand on both of the other teams. Peterborough currently has 16 points (8-3 record), Six Nations 15 (7-1-1) and Brooklin 13 (6-4-1).
Grant scored twice—including the Lakers' first goal of the night—and added 2 assists in his first game with the Lakers this summer. Scott Evans had a hat trick, Matt Crough scored 2 goals and Josh Gillam had 1 goal and 2 assists for Peterborough. Kiel Matisz led Brooklin with 3 goals and 2 assists. Kevin Brownell (2g, 1a), Mike Melnychenko (1g, 2a) and Shawn Williams (3a) each added 3 points.
Brooklin held a series of one-goal leads through the first period as the teams alternated scoring, with the Redmen heading to the dressing room up 3-2 after the first 20 minutes. Peterborough scored the only two goals of the second period. Crough buried a quick-stick on a gorgeous cross-crease feed from Grant 1:54 in, then it was almost 12 minutes till Evans tucked a shot on the crease past the feet of Zach Higgins. The period was a long one, with tempers getting almost as hot as the thick, muggy air in the Iroquois Park Sports Centre. A total of 14 minor penalties were called. For all the power plays, only two goals were scored on the man advantage all night, one for each team.
Evans and Grant led off scoring in the third to extend the Lakers lead to 6-3. Matisz got one back for Brooklin on the power play at 8:25. There was then an almost 8-minute stretch without another goal before a brief flurry. Matisz scored again at 16:09 but Crough responded with the eventual game-winning goal 18 seconds later. Matisz rounded out his hat trick and pulled the Redmen back within one less than a minute after that.
The final goal came with 31 seconds to play on a tough break for Higgins, who was excellent in the game, stopping 49 of 57 shots. Shawn Evans bounced a shot off the far post and it hopped straight up to Gillam standing on top of the crease for an easy put-back and the final two-goal spread. Kurtis Wagar, making his first start in Brooklin since he played for the team, also excelled in the Peterborough goal. He made 39 saves to earn the win.
Crough, a rookie who now has 11 goals in 11 games this season, said he is feeling increasingly comfortable playing at the major level. “But it's not very hard to get comfortable with these guys,” he pointed out. “You just set some picks, roll to the middle and they'll find you.”
Matisz placed the onus for the loss on a lack of scoring. “We're losing close games where it's in the single digits,” he said. “If our D is letting in less than 10 goals a game...our offence is shooting for that 10, 11, 12 mark. We're not getting to that point as a collective group, I would say it's on the offence. The defence has been playing good all year, we've just got to pick it up on the offensive end.”
While he was disappointed with the loss, Matisz did allow that he was pleased to finally have a big game himself. “It's been a tough year for me finding the back of the net. I've been working hard to improve my game on my own time, so it's nice just to finally get a game where I individually performed well, but it doesn't matter if you don't win. I think we put together a good team effort, but a couple of loose ends we just need to tie up.”