Saturday, August 13, 2016

Chiefs overcome shorthanded left side and 6-3 deficit to take series lead over Redmen

Dan Dawson, here celebrating a goal earlier in the series, scored the key marker in Six Nations 10-8 win Friday.
(Photo: Tim Prothero)
The Six Nations Chiefs found a way to win a huge lacrosse game Friday night. Now they just have to find some lefties as they continue their Major Series Lacrosse semifinals.

The Chiefs rebounded from a 6-3 deficit to beat the Brooklin Redmen 10-8 at Iroquois Park Sports Centre and take a 3-2 lead in the series. Jordan Durston led the way with 3 goals and an assist. But partway through the third period, Durston joined fellow lefty forwards Cody Jamieson and Johnny Powless on the sidelines when he fell awkwardly and appeared to suffer what could be a serious knee injury.

That left the Chiefs with a left side consisting of Ryan Benesch, junior callup Austin Staats and usual transition player Brodie Merrill. Staats, Benesch and Durston scored consecutive goals to tie the game up at 6-6. After Brooklin rookie Austin Shanks gave the Redmen the lead again at 6:45 of the third period, Durston finished off his hat trick to tie things up again.

While their next goal came from the lefties' side, it was delivered by a righty who got his coach's message, Dan Dawson. He snaked his way through a passel of defenders to the top of the crease on his off side then twisted his body and hands to someone sneak a shot past Mike Poulin, who continued to play solidly in the Brooklin net.

“I've been giving him crap for a couple of games that I didn't bring him here to be the seventh or eighth offensive guy, I brought him here because he's Dan Dawson,” said Chiefs head coach Rich Kilgour. “He was way more aggressive tonight then he ends up getting that big one at the end. I can't say enough about the guy. He just wants to be a good teammate. I told him every once in a while you have to say 'It's number 6's turn' and take one to the net. He nodded his head and said I gotcha coach and it worked out pretty good.”

Brooklin had forged the lead playing their usual running style. Three of the Redmen's first six goals came in transition two from John Lafontaine and one from Adrian Sorichetti. Kilgour said the Chiefs focused on sticking to their game plan.

“We talk about it all the time. Don't worry about the destination, worry about the journey,” Kilgour said. “We stayed working hard the whole game and then the breaks went our way at the end. “Hard work doesn't get paid off right then and there. You just work hard shift after shift and you'll make your own breaks sooner or later. Tonight we made our own breaks down the stretch.”

The Redmen would argue that a couple of outside sources—the floor and the officials—helped to make some breaks for the Chiefs.

“There was three questionable possessions,” said Brooklin defender Steve Priolo of a trio of controversial calls that led to Chiefs' goals. “There's a man that was wearing black out there today and he gave them the ball three times and it should have been us and what did we lose by? Two. So there you go.”

It didn't help that the hot and humid weather necessitated regular stoppages to wipe wet spots on the floor, Priolo said, suggesting hitting the road for Game 6 Saturday night may actually benefit the Redmen.

“I think we have a good game plan. Honestly, I think playing in the Nations is going to help us a little because we're not going to have those wet spots out there where the guys come out with the towels and dry them up. That gave them a break so it worked to their advantage today,” Priolo said. “Tomorrow we'll be able to push that pace. There won't be any wet spots on the turf. We'll be able to go, go, go and hopefully tire them out and get lots of shots on net, keep shooting on Ward and find the back of the net.”

Priolo said the Redmen let the Chiefs off the hook by not getting the seventh goal when they led 6-3 and the Chiefs made them pay for it.

“If we had gotten that seventh goal, taken a 7-3 lead, I think that would have stepped on them a little bit. I think them scoring those last two right before the [second] intermission gave them a little life,” Priolo said. “Us being a team that wants to run and push the pace, we've got to squeeze the life out of them as often as we can. We didn't today.”

Still, Priolo believes in his club and says the Redmen can still come back and win the series if they play the way they're capable of and take advantage of their opportunities.

“I think we're a better team,” Priolo stated. “I think they should be standing on their toes thinking what we can do if they give us a chance. But they've got some big shooters and they just stay to the outside and sometimes it goes in in lacrosse. Sometimes it went in a little more than sometimes it went in for us.”

There isn't much time for the teams to recover, or for the Chiefs to figure out their left side, with Game 6 on tap for Saturday at Six Nations' Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Unfortunately for them, Jr A Arrows star Chris Cloutier was unavailable to play this weekend. With no immediate return expected from Jamieson, Powless or Durston, the Chiefs will have to cobble something together and just keep battling.

“That's why we bring in so much talent. [Club president and former GM] Dewey [Jacobs] does a great job and [current GM Steve Dietrich] this year on bringing in lots of talent,” Kilgour said. “We are going to be short on lefties probably tomorrow. Durston didn't look good being carried off like that. At the same time, that's playoff lacrosse. Next guy up. They're all great players. We're going to miss them, we don't want them out but they are and now it's time to move on.”