Mark Steenhuis had a hat trick to help the Lakers down
the Rock 13-11 Thursday night. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
The Peterborough Lakers won the game 13-11, but the Oakville Rock continued to earn respect by winning the third period 7-1 in Major Series Lacrosse action Thursday night in Peterborough. The last time the Rock were in Peterborough, they took a 7-1 lead and were ahead well into the third period before the Lakers came back to win 14-13. This time, it was the Lakers who jumped out to an early lead. Peterborough were up 3-0 when Pete Rennie took a checking from behind double minor at 15:40 of the first. What looked like a chance for Oakville to bet back into the game instead turned into a 5-0 first period lead for Peterborough when Mark Steenhuis and John Grant, Jr. connected for shorthanded goals.
Oakville got on a bit of a roll opening the second, scoring 3 of the period's first 4 goals including a pair from AJ Masson just 12 seconds apart in the first two minutes. The Lakers then took control, though, scoring 4 goals in 1:36. Josh Gillam gathered in a rebound of a Grant shot off the back boards and tucked it home for the first goal at 10:09. Shawn Evans took a long pass from Tyler Carlson and found the back of the net behind Tye Belanger exactly a minute later. Jordan MacIntosh—who won 17 of the 20 faceoffs he took—gained possession of the ball after a scramble off the following draw and threaded a perfect 80-foot pass to Steenhuis for the third goal. MacIntosh and Steenhuis then combined to set up Evans' second goal of the run 23 seconds after that.
Connor Daly scored his first of two breakaway goals but the Lakers countered with a pair to head into the second intermission with a seemingly unassailable 12-4 lead before a boisterous home crowd of 3,208. The Rock weren't about to wave the white flag, though. Stephan Leblanc scored a goal on an outlet pass from Gary Muzzin, who had replaced Belanger after Peterborough's ninth goal, then set up Masson for his third of the game before the three-minute mark of the third.
Gatlin Burt scored at 7:03 to keep Oakville's momentum going, then a minute later Daly stripped Evans with a hard cross check and broke in to beat Kurtis Wagar who had replaced Tyler Carlson to start the period. The crowd sounded notably quieter and rather restless before the ensuing faceoff, but the Lakers quickly got them excited again when Steenhuis scored his third goal 11 seconds after Daly had connected, making the score 13-8 for Peterborough.
The Lakers still weren't home and cooled out, though. Oakville continued to press and started scoring goals again a few minutes later. Wagar, who has been excellent in relief for Peterborough all season, was shaky this time as Rock shooters found more time and space to shoot against a Lakers defence that may have backed off a bit. Kyle Davis sandwiched a pair of goals on almost identical shots from several feet outside the dotted line around another marker from Leblanc, and Oakville was within a pair of goals.
Carlson returned to the Lakers net and helped his team settle down, and there was no more scoring the rest of the way. MacIntosh led the Lakers with 2 goals and 4 assists while Grant had 1 goal and 5 assists. Evans scored twice and added 3 assists and Steenhuis had a hat trick and 1 assist.
Masson continued his increasingly impressive rookie season with a hat trick and an assist for Oakville. Leblanc (3 assists), Daly, Davis and Burt each added a pair of goals. Muzzin, after allowing a goal on the first shot he faced, stopped 16 of the remaining 19 that came his way.
Masson now has 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 12 games played. He says he's getting more and more comfortable with his role and the league. “Last year [with the Orangeville Northmen] I was playing a lot of defence and transition and this year the Rock want me to play more of an offensive role, so I was just really adjusting to that change. Also the speed going from junior to senior is different and different calibre players.”
He says the team continued to believe they could compete with the Lakers despite falling behind, and they heeded the words of coaches Phil and Brandon Sanderson (the latter filling in for assistant Blaine Manning, who couldn't make the game), that if they just kept shooting the balls would start to drop in eventually.
That approach—just keep plugging away and working hard—is the team's approach to the season as well, Masson said. A lot of the improvement they've seen over the season is attributable to continued hard work and growing confidence. “It's tough losing games but I think a lot of the guys are staying positive because of how well we're playing, how much we've developed from the start of the year against Six Nations [in an 18-10 season-opening loss] to now. It's a tenfold increase. I think all around we're just more confident players.”
Both teams face Brooklin at home in their next action. The Redmen will be in Oakville next Monday, July 8 then visit the Lakers next Thursday, July 11.