Friday, July 24, 2015

Lakers get back on track with 12-5 win over Brampton

Shawn Evans feeding Curtis Dickson for the goal of the night, and perhaps the season, a shorthander against Brampton
Thursday. Watch TVCogeco's video of the play here
The Brampton Excelsiors played 40 pretty solid minutes against the Peterborough Lakers Thursday night. That just isn't enough, though, especially against an elite team, and it led to a 12-5 trouncing by Peterborough that delayed Brampton's opportunity to clinch a playoff berth.

Shawn Evans had 3 goals and 2 assists and Curtis Dickson 2 goals and 5 assists to lead Peterborough.  Scott Evans chipped in 2 goals and a helper. Mike Burke was the main offensive weapon for Brampton and scored 2 goals and 3 assists. 

There was no scoring for the first eight minutes of the game, then the Lakers got two within a minute and a half as Shawn Evans opened the scoring and Cory Vitarelli added a power play goal. Brampton worked hard to stay with the Lakers and got a pair back.

First Mike Mawdsley broke in from the wing and tucked a shot into the far corner as he was jumping across the crease. Then the Excelsiors took advantage of a Lakers' defensive breakdown while Brampton was killing a penalty. Connor Sellars carried the ball past the crease and away from the net; three Lakers jumped on him, leaving Burke all alone to receive a touch pass from Sellars and beat Evan Kirk.

It was a nice shorthanded goal, but it was soon outdone by an effort by Evans that led to a shorty for the Lakers. Evans eluded several checkers while ragging the ball and was eventually knocked down by a push in the back as he ran from the corner towards the restraining line. He managed to retain the ball while being checked, got back up and ran back into the corner. Again with a pair of defenders all over him, Evans managed somehow to keep possession, fight through the double team and draw another defender to him as he sprinted to the crease.

At that point, it looked like he was coming into open space to attempt a shot, but while everyone was thinking that's what he'd do, Evans slipped the ball to a wide-open Dickson, who tucked it over Tyler Carlson's shoulder. Brad Self eventually scooped up the loose ball off the ensuing faceoff and led a breaking Robert Hope, who ran in alone and fired the ball just inside the left post to give the Lakers a 4-2 lead.

Sandy Chapman got one late in the period with the extra attacker on the floor, so it was a close game after the first. “I thought in the first period we played well. We matched their pace, which was our goal,” said Brampton Head Coach Paul Stewart. “The problem is they're so good that when you make a mistake the ball ends up in your net and when you take 20 minutes off like we did you're going to lose. It's that simple.”

The second period was the 20 minutes to which Stewart was referring. Peterborough outscored the Excelsiors 5-1 in the frame on just 10 shots. You could blame Carlson for some of them if you wanted to, but Brampton allowed the Lakers some high-quality chances that not many goalies would have stopped.

It didn't help Brampton's cause that they had only 16 runners instead of the allowed 18. Even more important was the absence of Joe Resetarits. “Joey Res has to be considered for MVP of the league this year so missing him hurts. But we were in it and we just made mistakes and we paid for them,” Stewart concluded.

Peterborough needed a game like Thursday's after losing back to back, an overtime heartbreaker to the Excelsiors last Sunday and a 12-5 dismantling at the hands of Six Nations Tuesday. “We actually had a little get together at 5:30 as a team; we broke off into offence and defence. It was just an opportunity for us to get together and go over some things that we've been struggling with,” said Lakers' captain Scott Self.

“I think a lot of times during games you're talking about things but for guys who haven't played this defence before some things just weren't clicking. So to actually go through some stuff visually, I think we had a couple of ah ha moments.” The detail work showed on the floor Thursday night. Peterborough's defence was more consistent and the mistakes that left opponents with open looks were few and far between. Kirk played well behind the defensive unit as well, turning aside most of the chances Brampton was able to generate.

The Lakers were aware that they haven't completely gelled with the season winding down, and they were determined to start to pull things together getting ready for the playoffs. “Momentum's big in anything. We don't want to have a bad one next Thursday against Kitchener and then you lose a bit of confidence,” Self said. “And it can give whoever we're going to play in the first round a bit of confidence, thinking ok these guys are beatable in their barn. We want to get rolling and make sure we're playing our best lacrosse heading into the playoffs.”

Peterborough will finish second in the league and play the third-place team in the semifinals. Brampton is still looking to clinch a postseason spot: they need one more win to make sure. “We have three games left and we need to win one of them and we're in. We control our own destiny and as a team we want it bad,” Stewart said. “Starting Sunday [at Kitchener-Waterloo] we really need to show our stuff.]