|Curtis Dickson, here against KW, had a hat trick to lead Peterborough to a|
7-5 win in the MSL playoff opener. (Photo: Kendall Taylor)
The Peterborough Lakers beat the Oakville Rock all four times the teams met in the 2015 MSL regular season, so the second-place Lakers are clearly favourites in the semifinal series between the teams. Three of the four games were tight battles, though, so it's hardly a surprise that Game 1 of the series was hard-fought and close again.
Peterborough got the first two goals of the game, from the sticks of Cory Vitarelli and Curtis Dickson, by the 11:11 mark of a first period that featured tight defence from both teams. It took the Rock a while to respond and when they did, it came from an unusual source. Defender Alex Crepinsek, who has just six regular-season goals in two seasons with Oakville, stayed up for an offensive shift and bouried a shot past Matt Vinc.
Rookie of the year candidate Dan Lomas evened things up with a minute to play in the first and the teams went to the intermission tied 2-2. The second period was even more tightly played. Crepinsek struck again, scoring a shorthanded marker that gave the Rock their first lead at 14:45. Shawn Evans matched Crepinsek's feat with a shorty of his own a couple of minutes later and the second intermission saw another tie at 3-3.
The third period would match the scoring total of the first two combined, and it started out with a goal breaking the ice much earlier than the others. Stephan Leblanc connected with assists to both Jeremy and Jason Noble at 1:46. Dickson, who had a lot of shots on the night but had been largely stymied by Nick Rose, fought his way in close where he was able to get one past the Oakville tender at 5:14.
The teams went back to their successful tight-checking ways for another eight minutes. Then Turner Evans threw a pass across the offensive zone that Matt Crough somehow managed to quick-stick home from an almost impossible angle right at the goal line extended.
With two and a half minutes to go and Oakville pressing to tie, Dickson once again bulled his way to the inside and once again was able to bury the ball to give Peterborough a 6-4 lead. Oakville still had hope and got back within one when Leblanc connected again with 2:05 to play. But the Lakers turned aside any other chances the Rock created and Turner Evans snuffed out their hope with an empty net goal with eight seconds to play.
Game 2 will be in Oakville on Wednesday. Game 3 would normally be back in Peterborough, but because the Memorial Centre will be putting in ice over the weekend, it will be in Oakville on Saturday instead with Game 4 returning to Peterborough next Tuesday.