Monday, June 27, 2016

Chiefs score more goals than they have runners in 15-6 win over Kodiaks

Warren Hill held the fort for a shorthanded Chiefs D in Sunday's win.
(Photo: Anna Taylor) 

The Six Nations Chiefs may have been shorthanded, but they had more than enough to handle the lethargic Cobourg Kodiaks on Sunday in Cobourg.

Six Nations had just 14 runners available for the game because of injuries and players with other commitments, but stellar goaltending from Warren Hill and an 8-point night from Vaughn Harris led them to a 15-6 win that moved them into sole possession of second place in the MSL standings, at least until tonight when the Oakville Rock will have a chance to tie them when they face the Kodiaks.

Both Hill and Harris are expected to be early picks in this fall's National Lacrosse League Entry Draft and they only enhanced their candidacies with their play Sunday.

Harris is usually a forward but has been playing out the back door for the Chiefs because the team is so deep up front. He took full advantage of the chance to play O Sunday, scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in a standout performance.

"I just had a good time playing tonight," Harris said. "We played really good. We got the ball moving around and used the space out there and played together."

Johnny Powless added 3 goals and 5 assists and Quinn Powless 3 goals and 2 assists. Hill got just his second start in goal and was excellent, limiting the Kodiaks to 2 goals through the first 40 minutes.

The game was actually close through the first 18 minutes, with both defences making it difficult for the opposing offences to generate quality scoring chances. The only goal in that time came on a Harris bench transition when he took a pass from Hill and raced in alone to beat Rance Vigneux at the 7:41 mark.

A pair of goals late in the period seemed to deflate Cobourg. Stephen Keogh and Johnny Powless connected 17 seconds apart in the final 1:06 of the first.

Six Nations had run seven forwards and seven defenders through the first 20 minutes, but in the second period they shifted an extra player to the defensive side to avoid wearing out the defence corps. The strategy worked for them at both ends of the floor.

While the Kodiaks defence generally continued to play fairly well, the Chiefs made the most of the handful of scoring chance they created. They finished on a number of open looks with precise shooting to score five straight goals and really take command of the game. The score was 9-2 when the second period ended.

Cobourg showed some resiliency in the third. They scored four times, led by Luke Laskiewicz, who wound up with 2 goals and 3 assists for the game. Having to press to try to fight back from a deficit often leads to chances for the opposition, though, and Sunday was no different. Six Nations responded to Cobourg's push with six goals of their own in the third to extend their lead.

A key factor for the short-staffed Six Nations roster was to limit Cobourg's transition game. They did so largely thanks to the commitment of their forwards to get off the floor quickly when transition chances were imminent for the Kodiaks.

"We knew they push the ball and we're shorthanded, so we had to cut that off for them," Harris said. "We're all aware of it but we talked about it before the game."

Six Nations would often have two and sometimes even three players heading to the bench as they were about to shoot, leaving Kodiaks trying to run the ball facing a line of white and teal jerseys as they hit the far restraining line.

Cobourg doesn't have much time to think about Sunday's game. They're back in action Monday night when they travel to Oakville to face the Rock in a game you can listen to live via JVI Radio. Six Nations has a day off then faces Brampton at home on Tuesday.