Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lakers survive comeback attempt to beat Chiefs 14-13

Adam Jones had 3 goals and 5 assists to help the Lakers hold off the Chiefs
for a 14-13 win Thursday. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
It couldn't have kept going the way it was. The Six Nations Chiefs are just too good. For quite a while, though, it really looked like the Peterborough Lakers were going to run away and hide on the Major Series Lacrosse league leaders. Peterborough led 6-2 after one period, extended their lead to 9-3 when Chad Culp scored his fourth goal of the game at 14:31 of the second and led 10-4 heading into the final 20 minutes.

The Chiefs roared back in the third and it took a huge Evan Kirk save against a Dhane Smith naked look in the dying seconds to preserve a 14-13 Lakers win that pulled Peterborough within two points of Six Nations atop the standings and kept the Lakers' hunt for first place overall alive.

It looked good for Six Nations forcing overtime when Smith stripped the ball from Curtis Dickson as the clock wound down. He'd already scored 5 goals in the game, including 3 in the third period alone, so it was a particularly sensational foot save that maintained Peterborough's lead and allowed them to avoid falling victim to a spectacular comeback.

“We got exactly what we wanted out of that. The ball went on the floor and we end up with probably our hottest shooter tonight one on one with the goalie,” said Chiefs' head coach Rich Kilgour. “Kirkie came up big at that moment. That was the least of our worries; it was being down all those heading into the third like that. We showed that we can come back, we showed that we don't give up until the final whistle blows. As a coach, I didn't like the effort in the beginning but the way we finished I'm pretty happy with.”

Ryan Benesch and Jeff Shattler also had big games for Six Nations, scoring 3 goals each while Benesch added 4 assists and Shattler 3. Dickson led all scorers with a goal and 8 assists, Adam Jones scored 3 times and added 5 assists and Cory Vitarelli and Turner Evans each had hat tricks for Peterborough. Shawn Evans chipped in with 6 assists.

Smith said it was inevitable that the Chiefs would come out flat for a game eventually. “We've been playing so well lately, we were going to have one of those games, especially on the road,” he said. “It's a long bus trip. We got our legs in the second period and we just believed in ourselves. We came up a little short but we played really well.”

Kirk cited an unusual potential source for his struggles in a third period in which Six Nations outscored Peterborough 9-4. “It was emotional. The biggest thing for me in the third, and probably you don't see it a whole lot of times, my parents sat front row for the first time and probably got in my head a little bit,” Kirk said.

He added that the Lakers didn't really come ready to keep battling after taking a bit lead into the third. “We were just a little complacent, we sat back and I wasn't focused right off the get go. They're a good team, if you're not focused 100% of the time, they're going to score goals.”

The game was a physical affair, with referees Ian Garrison and Jason Wiswell letting the teams sort things out among themselves unless there were clear transgressions. Kilgour said that's the nature of the beast when two teams with championship aspirations meet, and he wouldn't have it any other way. “There wasn't any gross high sticking or anything like that,” Kilgour said. “There was some chippy stuff that teams do to each other when they know that later on they're probably going to play some bigger games. I got no problems with the way it was played. It wasn't dirty, it was just chippy. That's my kind of lacrosse, man, I love that.”

The 3,648 fans in attendance appeared to love it as well, especially since their home town team wound up on the winning side of the score.