Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chiefs take first game of MSL finals with 12-7 win over Redmen

Colin Doyle scored 6 points in Six Nations' 
Game 1 win in the MSL finals. 
(Photo: Tim Prothero, VintageLax)
In the end, the Six Nations Chiefs were just too much for the Brooklin Redmen in Game 1 of the Major Series Lacrosse championship finals. The Chiefs won each period en route to a 12-7 win. Kasey Beirnes had a hat trick and 2 assist to lead Six Nations. Craig Point, Jesse Gamble and Cody Jamieson all added 2 goals and Colin Doyle scored once and added 5 assists for the Chiefs. Shawn Williams topped the Redmen with 2 goals and 2 assists, although it was a goal with which he wasn't credited that had the Brooklin players shaking their heads after the game.

With the score 7-6 for Six Nations late in the second period, Williams broke in on Chiefs goalie Evan Kirk and shot the ball low to the far side of the net. It appeared to bounce into the mesh and back out but was not signalled a goal by the officials. The replay didn't make it clear whether or not the ball had gone in, but Williams said “From all the players on their team that told me it was in, I'll say it was in.”

The play and what followed proved to be a critical turning point in the game. The Chiefs went back down to the other end of the floor and got a shot from a scramble in front of the net. Zach Higgins made the save but the rebound bounced up high to the edge of the crease, where Johnny Powless jumped to catch it and get off a shot that hit a falling Higgins and went back into the net with him. Just 23 seconds later, Gamble scored on a breakaway.

In the third period, the after-effects of the tough seven-game series against Peterborough in the first round seemed to catch up with Brooklin and the Chiefs outscored them 3-1 to pull away and finish off the win.

In the first period, the teams traded goals then the Chiefs took a 4-1 lead by scoring 3 goals in 1:36 just before the halfway point. Six Nations had plenty of chances to take an even bigger lead but Higgins was excellent in the Brooklin net and eventually the Redmen were able to create some scoring chances against the swarming Chiefs' defence that had limited them to outside shots to that point. Williams worked his way out from behind the net and got off a quick bounce shot that eluded Kirk despite close checking from Colin Boucher. Jeff Gilbert picked up a loose ball off the scrambled ensuing faceoff and broke in alone to bury Brooklin's third goal of the period.

Beirnes, who had scored on two quick-stick plays earlier, connected on an outside rip for his third of the period to round out the scoring in the first at 5-3 for Six Nations. Play in the second period was more even. Gamble got the first of the frame when he ran onto a perfectly placed lob bounce pass from Sid Smith and buried a shot into a tiny hole over Higgins' left shoulder. Brooklin got 3 of the next 4 goals to pull back within 1 at 7-6 before the Williams' non-goal.

Chiefs' Head Coach Rich Kilgour acknowledged that his team felt some effects of their 11-day layoff since dispatching the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks in four straight games in their semi final. “After that much time off, you can get a little rusty,” Kilgour said. “You can't duplicate game speed in practice or anything like that. I think about three-quarters through the first period, guys were getting a little gassed, but once they got their legs going we were pretty solid.”

The one player who really appeared rusty early was Kirk, who led the league in wins and was outstanding for the Chiefs throughout the regular season. After giving up a few shaky goals, though, Kirk settled down and played well the rest of the way. As Kilgour said, “You don't see game shots for a can take a hundred shots in practice but it isn't the same when you're shooting through traffic or a guy chasing him. I'm sure he wanted a couple back, but they ended up with seven. I'll take seven any night of the week. He's been there all year for us and we're going to ride him till he drops.”

Williams acknowledged that the Peterborough series was probably a factor in them appearing to tire a bit in the third period but said the Chiefs earned the win. “Hats off to them, they were ready and they capitalized on their chances and we didn't capitalize on enough of our chances,” he said. “It's obviously tough to keep that huge momentum going from what we had, but we held in tough and we gave ourselves a chance in the third period. We'll take that chance and the best thing about it is we get a chance to regroup and play again tomorrow.”

Kilgour said much the same about the importance of the first game, saying that the Redmen are a good young team who may have been “a little gassed after playing seven. It's not over by a long shot. It's only one game. We're going to pat ourselves on the back and then forget about it because we've got another one tomorrow.”

Game 2 goes Wednesday night at 8 pm in Brooklin and can be seen via live pay per view webcast by going to this link.