Friday, August 21, 2015

Lakers outscore Chiefs 18-14 in wild game, take 2-0 finals lead

Zach Currier had several chances in the MSL finals before the Jr A callup finally got on the board, batting home the ball for this goal to make it 16-12 for Peterborough in the third period. (Photo: Tim Prothero) 

What a difference a couple of days can make. After just 10 goals were scored by the Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs in Game 1 of the Major Series Lacrosse finals Tuesday night, the teams combined for 18 in the second period alone in Thursday's Game 2. Shawn Evans had a remarkable and historical night, scoring 7 goals and 7 assists to lead the Lakers to an 18-14 win that gives them a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series. The teams get right back at it in a series that is quickly turning into a classic and you can watch Game 3 at 8pm ET Friday night via JVI Sports Network's live webcast.

The teams were tied 3-3 after an exciting first period that had the Peterborough Memorial Centre crowd of 3,293 rocking. That was just a warmup, though. Peterborough outscored Six Nations 10-8 in a wild and wooly second period that included some spectacular plays and never saw a stretch of longer than 2:23 without a goal.

The tide looked to be turning the Chiefs way when Stephen Keogh—who missed Tuesday's game because of illness—scored his third of four goals in the game at 4:08 and Jay Thorimbert grabbed the ball as it came down from a high bounce and skipped it between Matt Vinc's legs just seven seconds later to go up 7-4.

The Lakers responded quickly, taking advantage of a too many men penalty and then a holding call to Brodie Merrill; they scored on both power plays (they would go four for six on the power play in the game while Six Nations failed to score on three man advantages).

Peterborough's offence played extremely well, but it was helped by a few lucky breaks as well. Midway through the second, Adam Jones was flattened into the boards by Jon Sullivan near the Six Nations bench. He took a while to get up and was making his way across the floor to Peterborough's bench when an errant Chiefs' pass left their offensive zone and rolled right to Jones, who had all the time in the world to go in on net and score.

On another goal, the ball bounced in front of the Chiefs net right to Evans amongst a crowd of players. He made the most of it, ripping in a sensational behind the back shot.

Curtis Dickson's brilliant night was overshadowed by Evans' exploits. Dickson had 3 goals and 6 assists. Jones was almost as prolific with 2 goals and 6 assists and Cory Vitarelli had 2 goals and 3 helpers. Dhane Smith led Six Nations with 3 goals and 3 assists. Ryan Benesch (1g, 5a), Johnny Powless (1g, 4a) and Colin Doyle (5a) also had big scoring nights for the Chiefs.

Evans said the Lakers response with the back to back power play goals in the second was a big moment, because the Chiefs had an opportunity to pull away. “It could have been, but we stayed composed, the guys on the sideline said we need to keep going, we kept attacking the net,” Evans said. “The difference from last game we were hitting a lot of posts and this game we were putting the ball in the net.”

He said the Lakers are happy being up in the series but recognize they still have a lot of work to do if they want to get back to the Mann Cup for the first time in three years. “Obviously it feels better than being down two nothing. But we've still got to play. We've got to go up there and play just as good.”

Chiefs Head Coach Rich Kilgour summed things up succinctly after the game. “Couldn't buy one the other night, couldn't stop one tonight. Like I said the other night, you're not going to win scoring four. You're not going to win giving up 18.”

“We've got some stuff to work on,” Kilgour continued. “The good thing is we get to go right back at it tomorrow night, we don't have to dwell on it for too long.”

He felt his team went a little over the line in terms of discipline Thursday. “We always say we want to be rough. We want to have one toe on the line of borderline penalties. But cross-checking. No swinging the sticks, cross-check. There's a million things you can do in lacrosse within the rules that'll get people mad. You don't have to take penalties to do it.”

Now the Chiefs head home with their backs against the wall. They won three straight games in last year's final after dropping the opener, though, so they know it can be done. What they have to do to make it happen is simple, Kilgour said. “I just told the boys, two things you have complete control over are effort and discipline, so you better be ready to do both tomorrow.”

Box score
Peterborough Examiner game story
Vintage Lax photo gallery