By Teddy Jenner
New Westminster, B.C.- In game one of the 2017 Mann Cup Championships, the New Westminster Salmonbellies outlasted the Peterborough Lakers in OT , 12-10, to take a 1-0 series lead and draw first blood in the Canadian Sr.A Men’s Lacrosse National Championships.
In front 2500 fans inside historic, Queen’s Park Arena, the Western Lacrosse Association Champions from New Westminsters, defeated the Major Series Lacrosse Champions, in a fantastic opening game in this best of seven series. Joel McCready’s second of the game, came on the power-play with 1:06 remaining in overtime and was the winner as Mike Messenger would add an empty net goal.
The home town Salmonbellies scored on their first shot as Kevin Crowley beat Lakers’ starter Matt Vinc from the outside. The New Westminster product Crowley, got his second shortly after to give the home team a 2-0 lead, and it would quickly become 3-0 when Brandon Goodwin fired from the outside beating Vinc and QPA was rocking. The teams would trade goals on the back end of the period as Adam Jones and Logan Schuss would light the lamp to give New West a 4-1 lead into the break.
One could excuse the Lakers for a slow start as they had only been west of the Rockies for a little over 24 hours and, adjusting to west-coast clocks and the hardwood floor takes some time. When the MSL Champs returned from the dressing room they seemed to have it all figured out. In under three minutes, Peterborough would make it a one-goal game as Curtis Dickson and Shawn Evans got their first goals of the series. Less than five minutes later they would tie it up, as Dickson’s second of the game was the Lakers’ first even strength goal of the night. Josh Currier would give his team their first lead a minute later only to have New West’s Jr A call-up Connor Robinson tie the game at five.
After begin held to just one goal in the first, Peterborough controlled the second period and when Jones scored his second and Dickson recorded his third, it gave the Lakers six goals in the frame and a two goal lead into the break; 7-5. Lakers GM Paul Day spoke during the intermission and stressed that when they moves the ball, they’re a very successful team; and they showed that in the second as they were a completely different team than we saw in the first period.
With Schuss in the box to start the third, Peterborough would score their fourth power-play goal in as many chances for the largest lead of the game, 8-5. Sports cliches 101 tells us that ‘momentum is a crazy thing’ and as the scales were tipping towards the Lakers, Brandon Goodwin would get the Salmonbellies first goal since the middle of the second period. That brought life back into the arena and it led to a power-play goal from Robinson who brought the home-team to within one.
Having been quite most of the night, Joel McCready got his first on a long blast past Vinc to tie the game at eight and that would be the final goal of regulation. Both Vinc and Alexis Buque were outstanding in the final ten minutes of the period as game one of the series would head to over-time.
For the third straight period, Peterborough would score quickly on the power-play goal, this time off the stick of Shawn Evans. His seventh point of the game gives him 111pts in seven Championship series and vaults him to 10th All-Time in Mann Cup scoring passing Dave Durante (105pts) and Jim ‘J.J’ Jennings (107pts). He’s now two points behind Josh Sanderson and four behind Bill Wilson.
Crowley, who last played for his hometown team back in 2009, notched his hat-trick goal, three minutes later on a power-play to even the score at nine. Dickson with his fourth and final goal shorthanded half-way through the extra session, had many thinking it would have been enough but a high stick major to Thomas Hoggarth turned the OT period on its head. Schuss would score his second to tie the game at ten-ten with three and half minutes left, setting up the McCready winner.
Steve Goodwin, New Westminster’s head coach, was happy with how his team battled back and felt his club ‘played better when they got down.’ He was most impressed with the leadership of Schuss, “he scored a couple big goals for us. He moved the ball well, worked hard getting off the floor and led by example.” For a guy playing in his first Mann Cup game, the lights of the big stage didn’t seem to phase him at all.
On the other bench, Mike Hasen echoed his GM’s comments about the teams solid play in the second period, saying “that’s the way we play; keep it simple, move the ball, move your feet, and capitalize on the PP.” He was happy with his team’s efforts and credited his defence for strong defensive talk and getting into good lanes.
Both coaches believe there's still plenty of lacrosse to be played in what should be a very long series
Schuss was named game star of the Salmonbellies as he tallied nine points on the night (2+7), including the OT tying goal. For the Lakers, Dickson had an equally impressive night, as he had eight points (4+4) in a losing effort. While the scoreboard read 12-10, both goaltenders were outstanding in game 1. Buque recorded his ninth win of the post-season making 35 saves on 45 shots. At the other end, Vinc was even busier, stopping 49 of the 60 shots thrown his way.
Peterborough went 5-5 on the power-play, while New Westminster went 6-10 including a perfect 2-2 on a five minute major to Hoggarth in OT. There were six goals scored in OT and all of them were scored via special teams; 5PPG and 1SHG.
These are the two most historic lacrosse clubs in Canadian Lacrosse Association history with the Salmonbellies having won 24 championships and the Lakers claiming Sir Donald Mann’s golden cup 14 times. Back in 2010, Peterborough defeated the New Westminster in six games and last won in 2012, in six games over Langley.
That 2010 loss at the hands of the Lakers, was the last appearance for the Western Champs from New Westminster and the haven’t been crowned the kings of Canada since 1991, when they swept the Brooklin Redmen.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 7:30pm PT as Peterborough will look to knot the series back up while New West goes for the all important 2-0 lead.
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