Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lakers take 3-2 lead in MSL semis with 15-9 win over Redmen Monday night

John Grant, Jr. had 5 goals and 4 assists to lead the Lakers 
over the Redmen in Game 5, giving Peterborough a 3-2 
lead in the series. (File photo: Tim Prothero)

John Grant, Jr. finally snapped out of his series-long drought and helped the Peterborough Lakers take control of the Major Series Lacrosse semi finals with a 15-9 win over the Brooklin Redmen Monday night, giving them a 3-2 lead in the series. Grant scored 5 goals and 4 assists in a dominating performance that displayed his shooting and passing prowess and how much of a difference they can make in a game. The Lakers transition game also played a huge role, with Brad Self adding 2 goals and 5 assists and Mark Steenhuis contributing 3 goals and an assist.

Grant's 9 points almost equalled the total of 10 he had produced in the three previous games he had played in the series, but he'd had only 1 goal over those three. He was visibly frustrated throughout the series as his shooting woes mounted. “It's been frustrating because I've been awful. I've been the worst player on the floor,” Grant said. “I've been letting the team down. Even tonight in the first period, I think I was the direct result of three of their goals.”

The Lakers' star forward said he's been trying everything he could think of to turn things around, but finally it was a simple bit of advice from teammate Scott Evans that seemed to do the trick. “I'm just trying to get out of my head, I'm switching sticks, I'm doing a bunch of stuff. I've just got to play. Scott Evans said just close your eyes and shoot it, so I did and a couple went in. I think the team all in all played well tonight so I was just contributing when I could.”

Grant said he also felt like he was letting all the lacrosse he's been playing—between the Lakers and his games in the Major League Lacrosse pro field league—get him to stop moving the way he needs to to be successful. “I think a lot of it had to do with getting my feet moving, too,” Grant said. “I was flat-footed a lot in the first period. It's been a lot of lacrosse for me; I played on the weekend. Trying to get the warmup in; I think the first period's been my warmup all series. I'm just trying to put the ball where I want it. When it goes where I want it, it usually goes in. It hasn't been going anywhere but into their sticks.” It was definitely not going in their sticks last night.

Peterborough took a 3-1 lead in the first period, but the Redmen fought back to score the last 3 goals of the frame and take a 4-3 lead into the intermission. The Lakers came out flying in the second to take the lead and take control of the game. Steenhuis scored on a breakout with Self 48 seconds into the period, then Grant scored at 1:08 and 1:48.

A key play wound up coming at the end of the second period. Brooklin got possession of the ball with about 32 seconds to play. They took a time out, pulled their goalie for the extra attacker and worked the clock down close to the end of their 30 seconds before taking a shot. Tyler Carlson saved the shot and raised his stick to try to fire it the length of the floor towards the empty net. With a scrum of players around the crease, Carlson's shot was blocked before it ever got properly on its way and was knocked back into the Lakers' goal just as the buzzer sounded to end the period.

It looked like the ball entered the cage too late to count as a goal, and referees Mark Gardonio and Matt Robinson waved it off accordingly. They also gave Cam Holding a penalty for goaltender interference for checking Carlson in his crease. That, along with some other calls that he saw as inconsistent, raised the ire of Brooklin Head Coach Wayne Colley. “We can't beat Peterborough and the referees,” Colley said. “How do you call checking in the crease on that play when there's a bunch of guys from both teams standing there pushing and shoving?”

Colley said he's finding the enforcement of rules throughout the series inconsistent and says he and his players don't know what to expect on a given night. “I don't know what the rules are, I can't figure them out. I've been in the game a long time and every game that's played it's different rules. So I can't figure it out. What was a slash tonight? What was too many men? They had seven guys on more than once. What's possession of the ball? I can't figure it out.”

Brooklin needs to regroup and prepare to earn a win on their home floor Wednesday night when they play host to the Lakers in Game 6 of the series. The winner of this semi final will face the Six Nations Chiefs in the MSL championship series. Six Nations swept the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks in the other semi.