Friday, July 12, 2013

Lakers down Redmen 11-7 to hold on to second place

Josh Gillam was named player of the game for his 
7-point performance in Peterborough's 11-7 win.
(Photo: Anna Taylor)

The Peterborough Lakers' offensive players didn't like the look of the scoreboard after two periods Thursday night, so they came out in the third and made it look better. An 8-goal third period propelled them to an 11-7 win over the Brooklin Redmen that solidified their hold on second place in a likely preview of the first round of the playoffs. The score was tied 2-2 after the first and Brooklin led 4-3 after the second period.

Josh Gillam and Shawn Evans each posted 3 goals and 4 assists to lead the Lakers attack. Gillam said it was largely a matter of making the most of their shots. “We came in after the second period looking up at the scoreboard and only seeing three goals up there, so we knew we had to step it up, get the ball moving and just stick our shots,” Gillam said. “We had pretty good shots in the first couple of periods but we just weren't hitting our spots.”

It appeared that it took the Lakers a while to get used to playing again without John Grant, Jr., who had to miss the game. Gillam acknowledged that there is an adjustment period to having him in the lineup and then another one to having him away. “Junior is the best player in the world and when he's here he does amazing things with the ball, and you let him do that. That's just the way it goes,” Gillam said. “He wins us games left, right and centre. When he's gone we try to fill the spots, have a bit of a different game style, maybe move the ball a little quicker.”

The adjustments they made in the second intermission worked, as Peterborough came out in the third and took the lead in the first minute and a half on perfectly placed shots by Gillam and Scott Evans for power play goals. The Lakers scored the final three goals to pull away in what had been a tightly contested defensive battle through 40 minutes. Brooklin, with only 16 runners and having played a game the night before, appeared to tire somewhat in the final frame.

Redmen assistant coach Paul Stewart pointed out that missing three key offensive players on the right side didn't help any. “You take [Gavin] Prout, [Kevin] Brownell and [Kiel] Matisz out of the lineup and that hurts us,” Stewart said. He was pleased with the play of the defence through most of the game, but said they made a few mistakes in the third and gave credit to the Lakers for taking advantage of their chances. “We let Shawn Evans set his feet a few times and you can't do that. They're a talented team. On broken plays, I don't think there's a team better than them in the league and we had a few broken plays and they capitalized on them.”

Derek Hopcroft was the only multiple goal scorer for Brooklin with a pair while Shawn Williams scored once and added 2 assists and goalie Steve Fryer had 3 assists.

Lakers' captain Scott Self said their defensive unit is finally starting to find some of the consistency they need. “We have had stretches where we've had great games, great periods, but then we'll have meltdowns like last game [against Six Nations] where we'll have a meltdown and give up 7 or 8 in a period, and that's brutal,” Self said. “It's something we need to get shored up, but I think we're on the right track.”

It's hardly surprising that it has taken the D a while to gel given the number of changes from last year's team. “We had so much turnover from last year's team and this year we're playing a system where basically everybody's new to it, so there's going to be some growing pains as guys get used to it,” Self said. “I think it's getting to the point now where guy are getting it and things are just happening, guys don't have to think about it as much. You're just reacting.”

It's helped to have veterans Chris White and Kyle Sorensen return, Self agreed, but young players like Mark Farthing and Robert Hope are making big contributions, too. “They've been awesome. It's good because a guy like Mark has kind of stuck it out the last two or three years, where he would get in for a couple of games then be out for a couple of games. He could have easily said, I'm going to go play Senior B, the hell with it,” Self said. “He's got a great attitude and it's starting to pay off here. He's a smart guy out there. Hopey is the same way. He was awesome for the juniors last year. He's a really intelligent player and he's picking things up really quickly here.”

With the win, the Lakers hold on to second place, now 3 points ahead of the Redmen with a game in hand. Peterborough is 5 back of the first-place Six Nations Chiefs, whom they play in Six Nations on Saturday. Brooklin is off until next Wednesday, when they play host to the Chiefs.