The Brooklin Redmen are in a battle for playoff positioning. It took over two periods for their intensity to catch up with their need for a win, but once it did they managed to do enough to pull out an 11-9 victory of the Kodiaks in Cobourg Sunday.
Brooklin was shaky early on, having trouble catching the ball to produce any scoring chances in the first half of the first period. Cobourg took advantage by scoring the game's first three goals with some nice ball movement and precise shooting.
The Redmen got one back after 13 minutes then the transition game kicked in to help them even things up. Ryan McSpadyen and Chris Corbeil scored back to back breakaway goals on almost identical shots to the top corner less than a minute apart.
The Kodiaks defence remained solid, limiting Brooklin's chances while the Cobourg offence found some holes to put in the next three goals and extend recapture a three-goal lead, 6-3.
In the blink of an eye, Brooklin took advantage of a couple of small lapses to bury a back-door quick-stick goal by Dan Lintner and a Shayne Jackson marker when he cut through the middle, took a pass and tucked the ball past Rance Vigneux after a hard fake.
Those goals came right on top of one another, at 7:37 and 7:56 of the second period, and it looked like Brooklin was taking control of the game. Cobourg refused to buckle, though, and when Pete connected on a nifty low to low backhand for a shorthanded goal at 11:37, it gave the Kodiaks a 7-5 lead they would take into the third period. Unfortunately for Cobourg, they didn't maintain their intensity after the intermission.
“The third period they really came out and our guys just kind of sat on the lead,” said Kodiaks' head coach Jamie Dubrick. “We were still trying to push, swing the passes around and get them moving. That's what happened with us the first two periods, we had some really good chances off that. In the third period we just stopped doing it. It's one of those things we've got to keep pounding into these guys' heads that we've got to play the full 60 minutes.”
In the defensive end, Cobourg lost two players for an extended period of time as Riley Campbell and AJ Masson went down for a while with injuries. Still, the seven defenders they had available kept working hard and Vigneux played very well to keep the Redmen off the scoreboard for the first seven minutes of the third.
But Brooklin started to chip away. Ryan Keenan, Curtis Knight and Shawn Williams pulled them into an 8-7 lead. Williams' marker was a bit of a strange one. A Brooklin player was checked into the crease as he shot and Vigneux landed on him and looked like he was holding the player down for a second. As the goalie got up, the rebound had bounced out front where no one was near Williams, who just picked it up and dumped it into the empty net.
Under Canadian Lacrosse Association rules, an offensive player who has been knocked into the crease is allowed a chance to get out of it. A goal scored while he is doing so counts, as long as he isn't interfering with the goalie. So Williams' goal was correctly allowed to stand.
Again, though, the Kodiaks responded. John St. John lasered an overhand from the top of the formation over Mike Poulin's shoulder for a power play goal to tie things up.
But two goals 36 seconds apart about a minute and a half later gave Brooklin a lead that Cobourg just didn't have the gas to come back from. Then a mistake allowed the Redmen to put the final nail in Cobourg's coffin.
“We pull our goaltender and we have a three on two, in which we're supposed to pull the ball out,” said Dubrick. “There's a dropped pass, they come back and score [an empty net goal by Corbeil]. It's just those little ones where you can't make mistakes. It's the small little mistakes that you just can't do.”
Dubrick was happy with his team's performance overall, as he has been when his team has faced the Redmen recently. “We've played them well all season, all last year, the year before. For whatever reason, we match up well with them,” Dubrick said. “Our D played awesome. At the end there we were down to seven D so it's hard with two extras to go out there and battle, especially against a team that throws the ball around really well. I thought we played really well.”
For the Redmen, a mixture of youth and experience allowed them to pull out an important win that moved them into a tie for second with Oakville at 19 points.
McSpadyen, a rookie who has played a major role for Brooklin all season, said his teammates really picked things up when they needed to after a challenging week.
“We played back to games during the week. I think the guys were tired from that,” McSpadyen said. “We have a lot of experienced guys on this team that know what it takes to win and know when the games are going and winning and losing. They did a good job today on both ends to pull out the win.”
The key, he said, was getting out on the Kodiaks' forwards in the third period to limit their opportunities. “Definitely more ball pressure. They've got a lot of guys that can shoot the ball on that team and I guess we gave them a little bit too much room in the first two periods but we locked down in the third. That's something we definitely changed after 7-5.”
Brooklin is back in action Wednesday night when they play host to the first-place Peterborough Lakers. Cobourg's next game is Thursday in Brampton.
Brooklin 11, Cobourg 9 (box score)