Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shamrocks take 2-1 Mann Cup series lead with 8-6 win after 6-goal first period

The Victoria Shamrocks scored six times in the first period to produce a lead they would never relinquish as they beat the Six Nations Chiefs 8-6 in Game 3 of the 2013 Mann Cup in Victoria, taking a 2-1 lead in the best of seven Canadian senior lacrosse championships in the process. Cory Conway scored 3 goals in the first period and Jeff Shattler led the Shamrocks with 2 goals and 4 assists for the game. Kasey Beirnes and Stephen Keogh each scored twice for Six Nations while Colin Doyle had 4 assists, which moved him past J.J. Johnston into eight place in all-time Mann Cup scoring with 109 points (50 goals, 59 assists).

“There's a long way to go,” said Victoria coach Bob Heyes of needing two more wins to claim the title. “It was a battle tonight. That's exactly what a Mann Cup game is all about. We came out in the first period, I kind of focused the boys and said you've got to come out and have a good first period. We had that then just kind of hung on a little bit there.”

The Shamrocks seemed to be able to create some seams to get shots off from mid-range and buried five of them in the set offence in the first period. Six Nations pulled starting goalie Evan Kirk after the fifth goal, although their coach Rich Kilgour wasn't laying the blame on his goaltender. “That first period really wasn't his fault,” Kilgour said. “They were good quality shots. It wasn't like any hit him in the belly and trickled in. They were right in the corner. It was more I think on the defence than on Kirky. Sometimes you've just got to pull the trigger on something like that to get the boys going again. It's been done a million times in all sports. It's nothing on Kirky, but at the same time, we've got to try to change momentum.”

Brandon Miller replaced Kirk and stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced, but the Chiefs weren't able to climb out of the hole they had dug for themselves in the first period. Stephen Keogh got things going early in the second, scoring just 58 seconds in, but then both defences and goalies were unbeatable for most of the rest of the period. Victoria restored its 5-goal lead when Shattler scored coming off the bench in transition, taking a pass from Karsen Leung and bouncing a shot that went in just under the cross-bar in the final minute to make the score 7-2 heading to the third.

After Scott Ranger opened the final frame with an early goal, the Chiefs rebounded with 3 goals in three minutes to climb back into contention at 8-5 by the six-minute mark. The Shamrocks defence settled down, though, and held Six Nations in check until they got a goal with the extra attacker on the floor in the last minute.

Victoria defender Jon Harnett said his unit got together after the 3-goal run and were determined to stop the bleeding. “After that third goal there, [goalie Matt Vinc] came for water and he kind of settled us down a bit. And leaders like Scott Carnegie and Dan McRae were a calming influence on the bench. We just got back to Shamrocks defence and played well for the last 10 or 12 minutes.”

“I felt last game we got a bit away from [solid team defence], they got us spread out a bit,” Harnett said. “Tonight it was a five-man unit and Vino's going to stop those outside shots. When they did get inside, he made some big saves. We just had to regroup. Game 3 is a pivotal game and we wanted to have a chance to go up 3-1 and we got the job done with a quick start.”

Doyle acknowledged that he was not happy after the game, but said “but I'll be fine tomorrow morning and ready to go.” The Chiefs can carry some positives from Game 3 into Tuesday night's Game 4, he said, including the fact that Keogh and Beirnes, both of who had been struggling to find the net in the first two games, connected twice each. “Very important, because we're not going to win the series if everybody's not scoring.” Doyle said. “Cody Jamieson won't win us the series on his own. I think maybe we became a culprit of that at the beginning of the series. He has broad shoulders, but we've got to get everybody involved and everybody scoring. I think when we do that we're a tough bunch to stop. That's been our M.O. all year long and that's what it's going to take to win the series, so those guys are going to be very important for us.”

Kilgour said after the game he'll be going “Right back to Kirky. I already told Kirky you're back in tomorrow, just refocus and be ready. He hasn't gotten pulled all year. It's been 20-some games. Sooner or later you're going to have a bad night. And again, it wasn't even a bad night, it was just a tough loss. I know he'll be ready to go tomorrow.”

Game 4 goes Tuesday night at 7pm PT/10pm ET and can be seen via live pay per view webcast. For more about Game 3 and the Mann Cup as a whole, go to IL Indoor and the 2013 Mann Cup web site.