Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chiefs down Redmen 8-4 to take 3-0 lead in MSL finals

Johnny Powless had 3 goals and an
assist to help the Chiefs take a 3-0 lead
over Brooklin. (Photo: Tim Prothero)

The Six Nations Chiefs are one win away from going to the Mann Cup for the first time since 1996. They downed the Brooklin Redmen 8-4 Friday night to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Major Series Lacrosse championship series thanks to hat tricks from Colin Doyle and Johnny Powless and another excellent performance from Evan Kirk in net.

The Chiefs, as they have been wont to do in the series, took a lead in the first period. Brooklin actually created more chances and seemed more into the flow of the game than they had in the first two games, but they couldn't beat Kirk and wound up trailing 3-0 after 20 minutes. Doyle ripped home another outside shot to get things rolling for Six Nations in the second period and when Kasey Beirnes quick-sticked home a perfect pass from Doyle with an extra attacker as Brooklin had a delayed penalty coming, it was 5-0 and the Redmen were in trouble.

Brooklin pulled starting goalie Steve Fryer and put in Zach Higgins, and the tactic seemed to work to change the momentum of the game, kickstarting the Redmen into producing some transition chances and putting home some of their scoring opportunities. Kiel Matisz scored a pair of goals in the second period, both on chances where he received a pass right on top of the crease and buried them. Between those, Shawn Williams scored an unassisted goal, so the score after two periods was 5-3 and Brooklin appeared to be right in the game.

Six Nations extended the lead back to 3 goals when Cody Jamieson scored at 3:23 but Scott Campbell got that one back immediately, receiving the ball after a scrambled ensuing faceoff and running a perfect give and go with Williams, who was parked in the corner. The Redmen couldn't beat Kirk again, though, thanks largely to the exemplary work of the Chiefs defensive corps. And, while Higgins was outstanding in the Brooklin net, Doyle and Powless both managed to beat him to complete their hat tricks and put the game out of reach.

Kirk said he's pleased with the way he's playing, but attributed much of his success to the men in front of him. “Yeah, I'm doing okay but if you look at the highlight tape it's the D. They're making my job easy. There's a couple of inside shots that you've got to have, but my D is making it really easy,” Kirk said.

Now, he says, the Chiefs just need to stick with their game plan to avoid becoming complacent with a big lead in the series. “I think [we just need to keep doing] everything that we've been doing,” he said. “The little things, the little battles—the loose balls, getting good shots, playing like a team like we have been and I think that's going to do the job for us.”

For their part, Matisz said, Brooklin needs to create more opportunities to score and take advantage of them. “I don't think we're getting enough chances. We're getting to the areas but we're not necessarily getting a catch and a shot,” he said. “We're just not clicking on all cylinders like we were last series. Every game we're behind 1 or 2 goals. It's a team game but we've been a little bit selfish, trying to push things out there and make the game come. We've got to let the game come to us.”

Matisz added that he and the rest of the offensive group have to step up if Brooklin is to get back in the series. “They're a great team offensively and defensively. Our defence is doing a great job, holding them to 8 goals. That's phenomenal. But our magic number has got to be 10 offensively and we're producing half of that.”

There were a pair of crowd-pleasing fights in the game. Rory Smith stood up for Jamieson after Steve Priolo had thrown a couple of punches at the Chiefs' star forward, so Smith and Priolo squared off right after the faceoff following Williams' second-period goal. Priolo clearly won the first half of the fight, but the two separated then came back together after Smith slid his right arm back through the sleeve of his jersey, and Smith made things closer by landing a few blows in the second half of the tilt. With just two minutes left in the game, Stephen Keogh of Six Nations tangled with Brooklin's Scott Gamble after they'd share some pleasantries in front of the Brooklin goal.

Game 4 goes Monday night at 8 pm in Brooklin. You can catch all the action, both goals and fists, via the Webcast Sports logo in the right hand column of this web site.