Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lakers take early lead and hold on to beat Rock 9-6

Shawn Evans had 5 assists as Peterborough downed Oakville 9-6.
(Photo: Tim Prothero)
The Peterborough Lakers looked dominant in the second period, outscoring the Oakville Rock 5-1 to extend their lead to 8-2, but Oakville fought back hard to make a game of it in MSL play Monday night at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre.

Two goals from Curtis Dickson and a hat trick by Cory Vitarelli combined with solid team defence and sharp goaltending from Matt Vinc allowed the Lakers to sprint out to an 8-1 lead by the midpoint of the second period.

The Lakers offence appeared to take its foot off the gas pedal, though, and neither team was able to score for an 11-minute stretch. Wes Berg buried a classic overhand shot with 28 seconds to play in the second period and Oakville entered the final 20 minutes with some momentum.

They built on it when Jeremy Noble and Rob Hellyer connected within the first three and a half minutes of the third and Oakville was clearly getting the best of the territorial advantage. Vinc and the Lakers D were able to keep them from creeping closer than 8-4 for the next 10 minutes, though.

At that point, Peterborough began to take some penalties that gave Oakville a chance to get closer and the Rock took advantage. Bryan Cole and Berg got power play markers a minute and a half apart to make the score 8-6 and the Lakers and their fans nervous. Peterborough held them off, though, and Brad Self sealed things when he bounced a shot from near centre floor into the empty net in the final minute of play.

"We obviously got our heads lost a little bit with what happened there at the end of the [third] period and didn't stay in it," Self said, but he gave credit to Oakville for battling back. "They have some talented guys over there and they scored on the power play. They're a desperate team. They're 0-6 now and every game counts. They're obviously trying to push for a  playoff spot with all the moves they made over the off season so it's nice to come in here and get a win."

Berg is starting to feel more comfortable with the Rock after getting a couple of games under his belt and he likes the dynamic he sees with the team. "Coming in here you see all the grit and toughness we have. Guys really want to win and we've finally got a full lineup the last couple of days," Berg said. "Peterborough's obviously a great team so it's not great falling short to them but I think the next couple of games we can get it rolling and get a little more puck luck, as it were."

Berg isn't just adjusting to the Rock and MSL, he's getting used to playing inside again after leading Denver to the NCAA field lacrosse title a few weeks ago. "Just trying to adjust back to box lacrosse is different and then playing junior is a little more run and gun, less of a team game, more of a couple of players you key on. Being out here in Ontario senior everybody can play and everybody can score. It's definitely an adjustment."

MSL play continues Tuesday night with Brampton in Six Nations. The Rock are back in action Wednesday when they travel to play the Brooklin Redmen in a game you can see live via JVI Sports Network Webcast. The Lakers next play in a clash of the titans against Six Nations when the Chiefs visit Peterborough Thursday.