IL Indoor’s Stamp and Jenner Mann Cup Musings

We have asked Ontario-based Stephen Stamp and B.C.-based Teddy Jenner, both of whom write for IL Indoor, to give us their thoughts on the series after games two and four.

Their thoughts are their own, and do not represent endorsement by MannCup2013. We present them to our readers.

Stamp:

If Brandon Miller keeps playing the way he has and the Chiefs win the series, he could well win the Mike Kelly award as Mann Cup MVP. How strange would it be to see a backup goalie step in and win that award for the second straight year after Mike Thompson did it for Peterborough in 2012?

Both teams have very impressive team defences. It’s hard to single out defensive players who are performing particularly well, but the defences have been the standouts in the series to this point, without question. If I had to pick the top performers on D for each team I’d go with a pair of Dans

—MacRae for Victoria and Coates for Six Nations—but you could easily argue for any of a number of other players on either team for that recognition. If you’re a fan of defensive lacrosse, this is a great series for you to be watching.

Since I called out the refs in my last column for this web site, I need to give them props after their performances in Games 3 and 4. They’ve been letting the players play but making the calls that need to be made. The result has been exactly what I’d been hoping for when I was writing about the officiating earlier — exciting, physical lacrosse that is a pleasure to watch. Well done, refs.

I hadn’t met Bob Heyes before this series but it is a treat to deal with him as a member of the media. He’s direct, straightforward and doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with us in post-game interviews. I also get the impression that whatever he’s telling us is exactly what he’s told his players. As a player, that’s a great thing from a coach. You want to know where you stand and what is expected of you and it’s much better to hear it directly from your coach than indirectly through the media.

What a great story the return of Tom Montour to the Six Nations lineup is. You can read my piece on the MSL web site for more detail, but the short form is that he sliced up a tendon in his wrist in the summer and Game 4 was his first return to action. He didn’t have a high-profile impact on the game but definitely helped to give the Chiefs offence more time to operate with his speed in the transition game. Montour is a 31-year-old veteran who still looks like he’s in his late teens and he’s got the enthusiasm to match his youthful appearance. He went to almost every Chiefs game all summer despite being out with the injury because, as he put it, they are a family and he wanted to be there to help any way he could. He was thrilled to be able to get back on the floor last night and contribute directly to the team’s success.

The fans always love a good tussle, and it was only a matter of time before Rory Smith and Tory Gardner squared off. Not a bad little scrap; probably whet many fans appetites for a repeat performance. Not sure it’ll happen, though. If the circumstances are right, they may go again, but the Six Nations coaches definitely want Smith on the floor rather than in the penalty box or the dressing room.

Plenty could change, but my thoughts on an All-Mann Cup team so far: Cody Jamieson, Jeff Shattler, Jesse Gamble, Dan Coates, Dan MacRae and Brandon Miller. I’d have to go with Jamieson, who won the Shooter Davis award as MSL playoffs MVP, as the most valuable player of this series so far.

Jenner:

What was once a best of seven series, became a best of five, and now heading into tonight’s game 5, the Six Nations Chiefs and Victoria Shamrocks are in a best of three fight up to the end of the 2013 Mann Cup.

These two teams are putting on some clinical lacrosse at times, allowing everyone an opportunity to enjoy the fastest game on two feet. With the first two games being toss ups, games three and four saw the teams once again divvy up the wins, as each flexed their muscles in this battle.

On the webcast during game four colour-man Chris Hall made the comment that Brandon Miller’s play in the Six Nations net has a very similar feel to when Mikey Thompson came in to the Peterborough net last year in the Mann Cup, down 2 games to none, he rallied the team to four straight wins and a Mike Kelly Award.

Since stepping in for Evan Kirk with three minutes to go in the first period of game three, Miller has only given up six goals on 81 shots, allowing the the Chiefs to regain some momentum in this series.

Victoria was lucky to win game one, then they were unlucky to lose game two, but in game three they showed the home fans the sort of lacrosse they witnessed in the WLA finals series. A six goal outburst in the first 20 minutes was the most any team had scored in one period, and wasn’t something anyone was really expecting after the first two games.

But that’s when Miller stepped in and he seems to be playing like a man on a mission as the rest of the Chiefs have hopped on his back. Since that opening first period on Monday night, the Six Nations defence has upped their game and is making things even tougher for the Victoria Shamrocks offence to get anywhere near Miller for a quality opportunity.

One glaring difference between the two attacks is that the Chiefs run AT the defence of the Shamrocks, constantly putting the Rocks D on their back feet. Victoria’s offence is based from their transition game, but once it’s in a five on five set, the ball slows down, allowing the Chiefs defence to lock in and punish. Rocks HC Bob Heyes mad the comment early in the series that his team was going to have to have the mind-set to want to get to the front of the net, cut through the middle and continue to take the punishment.

Wave after wave of players on both teams are taking a beating this series as the defenders up their pressure. Chiefs leading scorer Cody Jamieson said he’d never seen a defensive unit like Victoria’s, commenting that they pack the middle, so that working the two-man game is tougher, as getting passes inside are much more difficult. Apparently he’s not seeing what the rest of us are, and that’s his ability to dominate a game.

“Cody does that more times than I can count and it’s unreal to see him rattle off a few to start the game and get us rolling,” a smiling Rich Kilgour commented after Jamieson’s game four performance. The MSL play-off MVP is second in Mann Cup scoring to Jeff Shattler of the Rocks, who’s quietly putting together an equally impressive cup run with back to back six point nights in games two and three.

Shattler, the WLA play-off MVP can also take over a game with his speed and craftiness on the floor, and has the back-up fire power to do it. However if Victoria is going to get back in this series, they need their captain, Scott Ranger to do what he does best.

Ranger is one of best professionals in the game of lacrosse, and he is definitely leading his Victoria Shamrocks, but the two time WLA scoring leader is having his struggles in his first Mann Cup. With just two points in four games, there would not be a better game for Ranger to breakout than tonight. And you know that just like everyone else on the floor, Ranger knows he can do it.

Victoria won’t panic nor, will Six Nations get to confident heading into one of the most critical games of the series, as the winner will have the first chance to seal the deal. A chance at hoisting the 2013 Mann Cup and laying claim to the the title of the best team in Canada.

No wonder these two teams don’t really get along.

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