Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oakville Rock down Cobourg Kodiaks 11-8 to complete first half of MSL season

Damon Edwards and the Rock out duelled Cody McMahon and the Kodiaks 11-8 Monday. (Photo: Ed MacPherson)
The Oakville Rock hosted the Cobourg Kodiaks at the TRAC Monday night with the opportunity to close out the first half of the 2016 MSL season with a record of 6-3.
Oakville jumped out to an early lead on a breakaway goal by Mitch Desnoo, his 3rd of the season. Wes Berg would notch two goals before the end of the first period, the second coming on the powerplay. Matt Crough had the lone first period goal for Cobourg.
The second period started out action packed as Jeremy Noble scored for Oakville. Jordan Roberston responded quickly, but Wes Berg completed the Hat-Trick less than two minutes in. Up 5-2, Brandon Slade picked up his first MSL goal and Rob Hellyer followed that goal up with his first of the night. Oakville led 7-4 at the break.
The Rock went up 11-5 in the third, with goals from Stephan Leblanc, Damon Edwards and Challen Rogers. Two 5-minute majors by Bill Hostrawser and Jason Noble allowed Cobourg to pot three late powerplay goals, but Oakville held on for the 11-8 win. The two teams will meet Sunday in Cobourg for the return matchup. The win moved the Rock back into a tie for second place with the Six Nations Chiefs.

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.

MSL goalies dominate NLL goalie of the year finalists

All three of the goalies named as finalists for the National Lacrosse League Goalie of the Year award are Major Series Lacrosse players.

Evan Kirk plays for the New England Black Wolves and Peterborough Lakers, Nick Rose for the Toronto Rock and Oakville Rock, and Dillon Ward for the Colorado Mammoth and Six Nations Chiefs.

Kirk and Ward are the co-favourites to win the award, which will be announced at the NLL's annual awards celebration in September. Kirk won IL Indoor's goalie of the year award by a single point over Ward in the Indoor voting. Rose finished fourth, trailing Anthony Cosmo by a single point.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lakers solidify first place with 14-6 win over Redmen

Mark Steenhuis led the Lakers with 3 goals and 3 assists 
in their 14-6 win over Brooklin. (Photo: Kendall Taylor)
The Peteborough Lakers had moved into first place in Major Series Lacrosse Thursday with a 9-5 win over the Six Nations Chiefs. Saturday night they dominated their other main rival for top spot with a 14-6 win over Brooklin that pulled the Lakers (7-2) three points clear of the second-place Redmen (5-3-1). 

The standings are likely to return to the congested state that has become the norm this season, though. Both the Chiefs (5-3) and the Oakville Rock (5-3), who are tied for third with 10 points each, play the fifth-place Cobourg Kodiaks (1-6-1) over the next two days. 

Peterborough took control of Saturday's game, which was the culmination of a five-game Lacrosse Day in Durham celebration, with a 6-goal run in the first period and never let the Redmen get back within reach. 

Rookie Zach Currier, who has tantalized with his speed in transition but has had trouble finishing this summer, scored a pair of goals just a minute apart during that run. 

The teams scored 4 goals each during the second period, but any thoughts of a home team comeback swirled down the drain in the third as Peterborough put up a 4-0 period to emphasize that--at least for the time being--they are the king of the MSL mountain. The defending MSL champs were led by Mark Steenhuis' 3 goals and 3 assists. Chad Culp also had a hat trick for Peterborough and added an assist.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cobourg Kodiaks earn first win since moving to new home, down Brampton 8-6

Matt Crough leads Cobourg in scoring with 10g, 9a, 19pts through 8 games.
(Photo: Anna Taylor)
The Cobourg Kodiaks had come close, including forcing powerhouses Six Nations and Brooklin to overtime and earning a tie against the latter, but they hadn't managed to crack the win column before Thursday night.

That changed when, despite being outshot 55-36 by Brampton, Cobourg made an early lead stand up as they beat the Excelsiors 8-6 behind a 49-save performance by Rance Vigneux and leading scorer Matt Crough's 2 goals and an assist.

The Kodiaks led 4-2 after the first period, 7-5 after the second and traded just one goal each with Brampton on the third.

Interestingly, the result follows a pattern that sees an almost direct correspondence between Cobourg's penalty minutes and their success. Simply put, the fewer penalty minutes they have taken, the better they have performed.

In games where the Kodiaks have accumulated large penalty minute totals, they have lost by large margins. Following are their three highest penalty minute games and the results.

48 minutes vs Oakille; lost 10-5
45 minutes vs Peterborough; lost 15-2
56 minutes vs Peterborough; lost 15-7

In an earlier game against Brampton, the Kodiaks looked like they were on the verge of winning despite taking 22 minutes in penalties. Cobourg led 6-1 in the second period but were outplayed substantially in the game's finally 30 minutes and gave up 9 straight goals to lose 10-6.

In the games where they have kept their time in the sin bin to 15 minutes or less, though, they've been highly competitive. They took 15 minutes in each of their 11-9 overtime loss to Six Nations and their 9-9 overtime tie with Brooklin.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Birkhof suspended four games for actions in June 19 game

Broedie Birkhof has been suspended four games. (Photo: Anna Taylor)
Major Series Lacrosse Commissioner Jim Brady has announced that Cobourg Kodiaks player Broedie Birkhof has been suspended for four games as a result of his actions in a game on Sunday, June 19.

Birkhof received major penalties for fighting and instigating after an incident where he repeatedly punched Peterborough Lakers defender Stephen Hoar in the back of the head while Hoar was laying face down on the concrete and both referees were trying to pull Birkhof away.

The Kodiaks' player also received one game misconduct for the instigating penalty and another for getting two major penalties in one game.

Birkhof must miss at least three games. Cobourg is able to buy back the fourth game of the suspension if they so choose. That means Birkhof will miss games tonight in Brampton, Sunday at home against Six Nations and Monday in Oakville.

Brooklin Redmen jump from fourth to first with 6-4 win over Oakville Rock

Derek Suddons and the Brooklin defence held Oakville in check Wednesday.
The Brooklin Redmen clearly learned their lessons about playing the Oakville Rock. Nine days after getting run out of the rink in Oakville as the Rock took a 13-5 win, Brooklin turned the tables at home to win 6-4. In the process, the Redmen jumped from fourth to first in Major Series Lacrosse.

One of the lessons was, have your goaltender play really well. Zach Higgins made 51 saves just a night after making 50 in a 9-7 overtime loss to the Six Nations Chiefs.

“He's played incredible the last two games,” said Brooklin captain Derek Suddons after Wednesday's win. “I thought he played excellent last night in Six Nations. He deserved a better fate and certainly it paid off tonight in the win for him.”

Rookie Austin Shanks led all scorers with 3 goals but he deflected the credit to everyone around him. “For that team to put up more than 10 on us and then our defence and our goalie to hold them to four, it's phenomenal,” Shanks said of the turnaround from last week's game. “Our goalie and our defence as a unit played phenomenal tonight. They were the backbone of our team.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Oakville Rock enjoying unprecedented success this summer

Oakville will try to move into first place alone, for at least one night, when
they face Brooklin Wednesday night at 8 pm. 
The Oakville Rock, at least for the moment sit tied for first place in the Major Series Lacrosse League standings after stunning league supporters with a 13-5 win over the favoured Brooklin Redmen and scooping up a pair of back-to-back wins over the Brampton Excelsiors. So, what's the significance of a first place team after only 7 games? Some will say the season is still young, which is true, but this is a huge stepping stone for the Rock, who have never sat higher than last season's third place finish. Ever. 
After year's of struggling in Ajax-Pickering, the Rock franchise re-located to Oakville in 2013. After two summers of sub-par lacrosse, the Rock have built their team with a core of young talent and are quietly making noise as a league contender. Since Matt Sawyer took over the team (exactly one year ago to the day), the Rock have a record of 13-6 and had their first playoff appearnace last season. His approach has been to take care of their own house and not be too overly concerned with matchups and their opponents. He wants his team to come prepared to play.

Chiefs 9-7 overtime win Redmen makes MSL standings even tighter

Courtesy Six Nations Chiefs

The Six Nations Pro-Fit Chiefs are getting used to gutting out wins.
On Tuesday at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, the Chiefs needed overtime to beat the Brooklin Redmen 9-7.
But to do it, the Chiefs had to come back again.
After Derek Hopcroft scored his second goal of the game 28 seconds into overtime, Ryan Benesch netted his third 31 seconds later to tie things back up. Five minutes later, rookie Leo Storous got a pass from Jay Thorimbert in transition and got a shot off as he was leveled by a Redmen defender. Despite the hard hit, Storous' shot beat Zack Higgins for the game-winner.
Jon Sullivan then added an empty net insurance marker.
Like their last meeting in Whitby last week, both teams hunkered down defensively. Dan Lintner got the Redmen on the scoreboard first, six minutes into the game. Dave Brock then replied, before Craig Point scored two goal in a one minute span to give the Chiefs the lead.
Mark Mathews responded on the powerplay.
In the second period, Benesch scored a short-handed marker, before Shayne Jackson and Cody Jamieson exchanged goals.
Benesch then scored his second goal of the game 37 seconds into the third period to give hte Chiefs a three-goal lead. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Redmen wouldn't give up, with Mathews scoring twice and Hopcroft adding one to force overtime.
Higgins was outstanding in the Redmen net making 50 saves, while Dillon Ward got the win and had to be very sharp in a 36-save effort.
The Chiefs now vault back into a first place with the Peterborough Lakers and Oakville Rock, who have identical 5-2 records.
On Thursday, the Chiefs hit the road to take on the Lakers at 8 p.m., before playing in Coburg Sunday at 6 p.m. The Chiefs return to the ILA Tuesday against the Brampton Excelsiors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oakville downs Brampton 7-3 to move into first-place tie

Jason Noble is a key player in the success of the Oakville Rock defence that is leading the league in goals against in 2016.
(Photo: Dave Fryer)
The Oakville Rock have some big names on the offensive side of the floor. After moving into a tie for first place in Major Series Lacrosse after a 7-3 win over Brampton Monday night, though, they owe much of their success to the defence.

Oakville improved to 5-2 with their third straight win and fourth in their last five games. Despite their star-studded offence, led by the likes of Rob Hellyer, Stephan Leblanc and Wes Berg, the Rock are the lowest-scoring of the four teams battling near the top of the standings with 8.6 goals per game.

They lead the league in goals against, though, even though the Brooklin Redmen and Six Nations Chiefs have played one less game than the Rock. Oakville has surrendered just 46 goals, an average of 6.6 per outing.

The Rock trumpeted the additions of Dan MacRae, Challen Rogers and Bradley Kri before the season. That trio has meshed quickly with veterans like Jason Noble, Alex Crepinsek and Glen Bryan as well as emerging young players Mitch de Snoo and Brad Gillies, both of whom were drafted in the first two rounds of last year's NLL draft.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lakers blow out Kodiaks for second straight game, 15-7

Stephen Hoar was none too pleased after being attacked by Cobourg's Broedie Birkhof. (Photo: Anna Taylor)
It was closer but no cigar for the Cobourg Kodiaks. Three days after being annihilated 15-2 by the Lakers in Peterborough, Cobourg was able to hang with the visitors for a period but ultimately fell to Peterborough 15-7 in a game marred by an ugly incident in the second period.

Cobourg enforcer Broedie Birkhof attacked Lakers defender Stephen Hoar, ripped off his helmet and continued to throw punches at the back of Hoar's head while Hoar was prone on the concrete. Hoar had to leave the game early and is suspected to have suffered a concussion. Birkhof received major penalties for fighting and instigating, the latter of which comes with an automatic game misconduct. He was not given a match penalty, which comes with an indefinite suspension pending league review.

While the Cobourg coaches and management felt they were getting the short end of the stick from the officials in the game, Lakers GM (and head coach for the day in the absence of Mike Hasen) Paul Day made it clear how he felt about the situation.

“I think the refs controlled a situation that could have got out of control,” Day said. “The only thing I'm disappointed in is a guy beating a guy on the floor with his helmet off when the two refs are trying to save him. We don't want to see that in our game. I'm sure nobody wants to see a guy getting beat on the floor by a guy who's in the offensive end who's basically an egg-and-spooner. He's basically a pizza delivery guy with a stick.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Redmen hang on for 9-8 win over Chiefs, vault back into first place

Mike Poulin was sharp for the Redmen, leading them to a 9-8 win over Six
Nations that moves Brooklin back atop the MSL standings.
(File photo: Tim Prothero)
Not this time.

One night after scoring four goals in 1:23 to overcome a deficit and beat the Peterborough Lakers at home, the Six Nations Chiefs again tried to dig out of a third-period hole but came up just short, losing 9-8 at the Brooklin Redmen Wednesday. The win moves the Redmen back into first place, a point ahead of the Chiefs.

The Chiefs scored a pair of extra attacker goals in the final three minutes to get within one, but Brooklin held on for the win. The Redmen pulled goalie Mike Poulin for the final 18 seconds after they possession so that they could match Six Nations' six runners and were able to evade the Chiefs' pressure to run out the clock.

Six Nations led 3-2 after the first period but the Redmen took control in the second with a 5-1 edge that included a pair of power play goals and a lovely transition marker by rookie Ryan McSpadyen. Randy Staats got one back for the Chiefs when a loose ball bounced to him at the edge of the crease during a scramble and he was able to quickly flick it into a yawning net. That made it 7-4 after 40 minutes.

The Redmen extended their lead when Curtis Knight opened third-period scoring 4:32 in then Adrian Sorichetti scored in transition, making an excellent play to sprint down the floor, look off the player he was in on a two-on-one with and bury a shot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chiefs stun Lakers 8-7 in battle for first place

There was no Curtis Dickson, left, on hand for Peterborough. But this picture
from last year's MSL finals
does show last night's game winning scorer. Dan
Coates got the winner as Six Nations prevailed 8-7. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
Oh, the vagaries of lacrosse. So much can change in a minute. Or in this case, a minute and 23 seconds.

The Peterborough Lakers travelled to Six Nations Tuesday night to face the Chiefs in a game that would see the winner leapfrog the Brooklin Redmen into first place and the loser slip into a tie with the Oakville Rock for third. Or, in the case of a tie, we would have seen a three-way logjam for first place among Peterborough, Six Nations and Brooklin.

Scoring was at a premium through two periods. The teams exchanged single goals in the first and a pair each in the second before Cody Jamieson's third of the game put Six Nations up 4-3 a couple of minutes into the third period.

The Lakers appeared to take control, though, when Holden Cattoni scored twice to complete his first MSL hat trick as part of a 4-goal Peterborough run before the midway point of the period to go ahead 7-4.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dickson out, Grant in for Lakers

John Grant Jr is back for one more season with the Peterborough Lakers. (Photo: Tom Prothero)
The Peterborough Lakers received some sobering news and then some refreshing news in the past couple of days. Curtis Dickson, who was named MSL's playoff MVP last year as he helped lead the team to the Mann Cup finals, is out for the year after an MRI showed that a lingering injury is a sports hernia.

Hard on the heels of that news, though, Peterborough announced that John Grant Jr. will be back for a farewell season with the team. While Grant doesn't help take up the slack on the right side with Dickson sidelined, he's certainly another big stick to help with the power play. Grant is also one of the great clutch shooters in lacrosse, besides of course being simply one of the best to ever play the game.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Tale of Two Cities: Rock and Chiefs split back to back games

Dillon Ward bounced back from a tough night Monday to stifle the Oakville
Rock Tuesday as the Chiefs earned a split of the home and home series.
(Photo: Dave Fryer)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness. For the Oakville Rock, a home and home series with the Six Nations Chiefs this week was positively Dickension in its duality.

When you see that Oakville outscored Six Nations 19-17 as the teams split the series Monday and Tuesday night, you may well think the games were a pair of nail biters. That was far from the case.

The teams were close through two periods Monday in Oakville, with the Rock leading by a single goal, 8-7. Other than a single goal by Cody Jamieson, the third period was all Oakville, though, as the home team ran off a 7-1 frame to make the final score 15-8 in their favour.

One big factor was Chiefs' goalie Dillon Ward stopping just 37 of the 51 shots he faced as Stephan Leblanc (3g, 4a) and Rob Hellyer (2g, 5a) each enjoyed 7-point nights.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Toronto Rock players suiting up for summer lacrosse

Nick Rose is a fixture for both the Toronto and Oakville Rock.
(Photo: Dave Fryer)
Courtesy Toronto Rock
The Toronto Rock season may have some to a premature end as the NLL regular season came to a close, but there is still lacrosse to be played in Canada’s summer amateur leagues as players stay sharp for the pros and the 2017 NLL season which will begin in January.
The bulk of Toronto Rock players on the floor this summer will suit up for the Oakville Rock of Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse (MSL). The team plays out of the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville and is coached by Rock assistant coach Matt Sawyer. Leading the front office of the Oakville Rock is Toronto Rock forward turned summertime GM, Josh Sanderson. Oakville’s home games are played on Mondays at 8 p.m. at the TRAC.
Anchoring the crease for ‘Oak City’ are goaltenders Nick Rose and Steve Fryer. Rose had a brilliant 2016 season for the Toronto Rock while Steve Fryer continues to battle for an active roster spot and spent the bulk of the season on Toronto’s practice roster.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Redmen ride hot goaltending and team offence to 11-7 win over Lakers

Dan Ball and the Brooklin Redmen held off the Peterborough Lakers for an 11-7 win Thursday. (Photo: Kendall Taylor)

The last time the Peterborough Lakers lost a home opener was 2004. The team that turned the trick was the Brooklin Redmen, who were back in town Thursday night hoping for a repeat performance. Led by excellent goaltending from Zach Higgins and a sublime 8-point night from Shayne Jackson, Brooklin was able to do exactly that with an 11-7 win that improved them to 2-0 while dropping the Lakers to 1-1.

The visitors jumped out to a quick start when TJ Sanders scored his first of the season just 48 seconds in then Dan Lintner jumped to tuck home a back-door quick-stick power play goal off a perfect cross-floor pass from Reilly O'Connor just over two minutes after the opening faceoff.

Adam Jones got a pair for the Lakers, but in between O'Connor and Lintner combined for a carbon copy of the earlier goal when Peterborough couldn't come up with a loose ball and Zach Currier was caught well up floor looking for a breakout pass.

Currier was one of several young defenders in the lineup for Peterborough and they generally performed well, but Brooklin took advantage of a few breakdowns to make the Lakers pay quickly for their mistakes. Ryan Keenan put the Redmen ahead 4-2 when he connected with 20 seconds left in the first period.

Shawn Evans got a pair to tie things up in the second but back to back holding penalties to Thomas Hoggarth and Shawn Evans followed by a boarding major to Ian Llord gave the Redmen an extended power play, much of the time 5 on 3. Brooklin got goals from Keenan and Jackson to pull back ahead. Perhaps just as importantly, all the penalty kill time seemed to take some jump out of the Lakers at both ends of the floor, although they had looked a little flat anyway.

Chiefs explode for 8 second period goals in 15-5 rout of Excelsiors

Courtesy Six Nations Chiefs

The Six Nations Pro-Fit Chiefs sharpshooters were out in full force Thursday night.
On the road in Brampton, Randy Staats scored four goals and two assists, while Johnny Powless added three goals and four assists, and Craig Point pitched in with three goals and one helper, as the Chiefs blew by the Excelsiors 15-5.
Not to be outdone, Cody Jamieson made his presence felt with a goal and six assists, while Joe Hall, Marty Hill, Tim Edwards and Jordan Durston netted one goal each.
Dillon Ward made his 2016 Chiefs debut, and made 37 saves to earn the win.
After the two teams exchanged four goals each in the first period, it was all Chiefs in the second frame, going on an 8-1 run, before adding three more in the third.
With two wins to start the Major Series Lacrosse season, they now host the Oakville Rock on Tuesday at 8 p.m., at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.

Six Nations 15, Brampton 5 (box score)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Redmen take out Excelsiors 12-5 in Wednesday night MSL action

Matt Spanger and the Brampton Excelsiors took on Shawn Williams and the
Brooklin Redmen in both teams' season openers Wednesday.
(Photo: Tim Prothero)
Both teams were missing a handful of players for various reasons, primary among them guys being involved in the National Lacrosse League championship series. It's safe to say that as the game went on, the Brooklin Redmen handled a cobbled-together roster better than the Brampton Excelsiors did.

Brampton jumped out to a 4-3 lead after one period and scored the opening goal of the second. But for the final 34 minutes, it was all Brooklin as the Redmen scored nine unanswered goals to take a 12-5 win in the Major Series Lacrosse season opener for both teams at Whitby's Iroquois Park Sports Centre.

Junior graduate Austin Shanks led all scorers with 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points. Dan Lintner, fresh off his NLL rookie season in Toronto, enjoyed being back with many of his junior teammates with the Whitby Warriors, scoring 4 goals and adding an assist. Two of those reunited teammates each added 5 points: Reilly O'Connor had a goal and 4 assists, Shayne Jackson 5 assists.

It wasn't just the youngsters producing for Brooklin, though. Veteran Derek Hopcroft and uber-veteran Shawn Williams each chipped in a goal and 3 assists.

Matt Spanger, Mike Burke, Mike Teeter, Tyson Bell and Phil Caputo responded for Brampton, who outshot the Redmen 45-42 but didn't get many quality chances against a stout Brooklin defence.