Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shamrocks take Game 1 of Mann Cup finals 5-4 behind hat trick from Jesse King

Craig Point had a pair of goals for Six Nations but they
managed two others in a 5-4 opening game loss to Victoria. 
(Photo: Judy Teasdale)
The Victoria Shamrocks showed that they're just as fast in transition as advertised, but it was Junior A call-up Jesse King's 3 third-period goals in the set offence that pushed them to a 5-4 win in the opening game of the 2013 Mann Cup. King, who will only be able to play one more game before he has to return to school at Ohio State, scored the only goals of the third frame in which the Shamrocks had just eight shots, after they had fired 22 at Six Nations goalie Evan Kirk in the first and another 14 in the second. 

The Chiefs led 3-1 after the first period and 4-2 after the second and seemed to be getting a handle on controlling the Victoria transition game that had created numerous scoring opportunities in the first period. King was spectacular in scoring all the goals Victoria would need in the third, particularly on the final goal when he caught the ball in traffic on top of the crease and fought off a double team to whip a behind-the-back shot into the top corner. 

After the game, King said his teammates helped him to get open by drawing attention from the opposing defenders. They'll have to do it without him after Saturday's Game 2, but King said Bob Heyes had a simple message for the team. "Coach was just saying that we have a lot to do, we just have to keep going, keep working hard. We probably have the hardest-working team out there," King added.

Six Nations Head Coach Rich Kilgour wasn't surprised by Victoria goalie Matt Vinc's performance, which included a stop on a Jesse Gamble breakaway with seven and a half minutes to go in the third period and a point blank stop on Cody Jamieson just before the final buzzer. Kilgour said Vinc was good and the Chiefs caught a couple of tough breaks as well. "Matt Vinc has proven the past two years in the winter and even when we had him in the summer that he's a top-notch goalie and you have to bear down and when you get a chance bury your shot. It's lacrosse, we had a couple of posts, a couple where I think he was leaning the wrong way and we catch him in the foot. And he had some very nice saves, also."

Kilgour was impressed by the defensive and goaltending efforts by both teams. "5-4, that's a pretty low-scoring game. There was some great defence out there by them and by us," Kilgour said. "We've got to find a way to get a couple more past Matt Vinc and that's probably what we'll go over tonight. We'll watch a little film, see what we can improve on and go from there."

The vaunted Shamrocks running game was in evidence in the first period, creating numerous scoring chances, but Evan Kirk was equal to the task on all but one of them. Ben McCullough scored Victoria's only goal of the opening frame when he scooped up a loose ball and rocketed down the floor to bury a shot as he was knocked to the concrete. 

McCullough didn't have to think long when asked where the goal ranks on his career list. "There are not too many goals that I get, but that's a pretty big one for me," he said. "This year for me, in major, has been my best goal scoring season. That's my favourite one so far."

King's hat trick also netted him player of the game honours for Victoria. Jamieson earned the award for the Chiefs after scoring once and setting up Six Nations' other three goals. For another perspective and an in-depth account of the game, check out Patrick McMillan's story from the Mann Cup web site