Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chiefs down Lakers 12-8 in battle for first place

Johnny Powless scored a pair of critical third-period goals to help Six Nations beat Peterborough. (Photo: Tim Prothero)

Playing without their scoring leader Shawn Evans made an obvious difference to the Peterborough Lakers, but the Six Nations Chiefs were full value for their 12-8 win in a showdown for first place in Major Series Lacrosse Thursday.

Ryan Benesch scored 5 goals and Johnny Powless had a hat trick and 2 assists as the Chiefs took over top spot with a 6-1 record while the Lakers fell to 5-1. Benesch and Six Nations' Dhane Smith now lead the league with 33 points each. Curtis Dickson is third with 28 after scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in the loss.

Dickson scored as pretty a goal as you'll see late in the second period. Ragging the ball shorthanded, he ran towards the top of the crease. With a defender above him in the slot, one ahead of him and one on his back, Dickson threw on the brakes with is back to goalie Dillon Ward. He took a quick look around, dropped his stick by his side in just his right hand and flung the ball backwards. It streaked past Ward's arm and into the far top corner of the net.

As beautiful as Dickson's goal was, though, it was a pair by Powless—including a behind the back bouncer from the low slot that snuck through Matt Vinc's legs—in the third that put the Chiefs in control. Six Nations led 8-6 after two periods but the Lakers were pressing to get back into it. Powless connected at 7:20 and again at 9:02 to extend the lead to four and make it just too hard for Peterborough to come back against the stout Chiefs' defence and solid goaltending of Ward.

“My defence in front of me is huge. I was told I made 40 saves but a lot of them were from the outside. All the credit to my defence, they're making my job a lot easier,” Ward said, while conceding that he did play well. “When they did get inside I made a couple of big saves here and there. I thought everyone in the back end did their job and allowed the offence to take care of the ball.”

From his post between the pipes, Ward gets a great view of the potent Six Nations' offence and he admires it as much as anyone. “Watching our offence work the ball is incredible. It's never in a stick for more than two seconds, it's always bouncing around. Those guys are unbelievable up there.”

At the other end of the floor, the Lakers were noticeably less effective at creating scoring chances without Evans in the lineup as he rested a sore knee.

“It's been a while since I played without him. Like I've said before he's the best player in the world right now and obviously it's a big loss to this team,” Dickson said. “Hopefully we get him back soon but we can't use that as an excuse. We've still got a lot of firepower up on offence. We've got to be able to move the ball and put the ball in the back of the net. That one's on us tonight.”

Dickson noted that the ball wasn't hot enough for the offence to be effective but hoped the Lakers will learn from that as the season progresses. “We've got to keep moving, sharing the ball and get their defence spread. Unfortunately, I don't think we got that done tonight but it's still early,” he said.

Brad Self chipped in 2 goals and 2 assists for the Lakers and Scott Evans, drawing into the lineup for the second straight game, had an assist and a pair of goals including one hard outside shot that knocked Ward's glove right off his hand on its way to the net.

Six Nations 12, Peterborough 8
Box score