Saturday, August 15, 2015

Lakers gain berth in MSL finals against Six Nations with 10-3 win over Rock

Matt Vinc and the Lakers defence held Oakville to just 3 goals in Game 5 of the MSL semifinals. (Photo: Tim Prothero)

The Major Series Lacrosse finals are set after the Peterborough Lakers finished off the Oakville Rock with a 10-3 win in Game 5 of their semis. Peterborough led 3-1 after the first period and ran out to a 6-1 lead after the second. Curtis Dickson led the Lakers with 3 goals, Adam Jones had a goal and 4 assists and Shawn Evans a goal and 3 assists. Matt Vinc was credited with 42 shots in the Peterborough net to earn the win.

While the Lakers won the series 4-1, giving them an 8-1 edge against the Rock between the regular season and playoffs, Oakville made the Lakers work for the series and look like they'll be an emerging force in the league. “We knew it wasn't going to be easy. They started off 0-7 and we knew they were a better team than that,” said Dickson. “They finished strong down the stretch and they have a good team. They've got a great goalie in Rosey and they've got a great offence. They've got some serious firepower. Kudos to our defence for holding them to three tonight. That was unbelievable. This is how we want to be playing heading down the stretch here into the finals.”

The Lakers move on to the MSL finals against the Six Nations Chiefs, the matchup that everyone expected to happen before the season started. Now that it has come to fruition, Nick Weiss says the Lakers defence needs to keep playing the way it did last night: together and for a full 60 minutes.

“We've put together a lot of good periods at times and streaks, but we really wanted to focus and get the full game under the belt to get us rolling into the next series,” Weiss said of moving on to face the team that finished first in the regular season at 15-3 and won three of four games against the Lakers. “It's going to be a bit of step up to the Chiefs, they're such a high-powered offence. But I think if our defence plays smart and plays a full complete game we can have the same outcome.”

Lakers captain Scott Self echoed Weiss' feeling that the Lakers are playing well right now but need to be prepared to step up against the two-time defending Mann Cup champions. “We're definitely feeling good, we're feeling confident. I think we're coming into our own, we're getting into a groove,” Self said. “But Six Nations is a whole new set of challenges. We are going to have to make adjustments on the fly. They know what we do and they're going to throw some different stuff at us. We just have to be on our toes and ready to adapt.”

Turner Evans got the Lakers out to a lead when he bounced a perfect shot off the far post and in behind Nick Rose. Billy Hostrawser, a thorn in the Lakers side throughout the games in the series for which he wasn't suspended, evened things up when he picked off a pass and raced in alone to beat Vinc. Weiss got that one back in a hurry with a great play of his own. With the Rock gaining possession of the ball near their own crease off the ensuing faceoff, Weiss worked hard to dislodge the ball from an Oakville player's stick, scooped up the loose ball and took a few steps towards Rose before tucking the ball behind him.

A 3-0 second period, including a pair of power play goals in the final three minutes, extended the Lakers lead to 6-1 and made it an awfully big hole for Oakville to climb out of. After Dan Lomas got a goal for the Rock, Peterborough ran off four straight—including an empty-netter by Brad Self—to put things out of reach.

Ian MacKay got the last goal of the game for Oakville with a big hand from Glen Bryan. The pair raced down the floor in transition and Bryan set a perfect pick for MacKay—and got flattened by another Laker in the process. MacKay made Bryan's sacrifice worthwhile by ripping an underhand shot into the corner.

The finals get underway next Tuesday in Six Nations with Game 2 in Peterborough on Thursday.