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 two games.
Their thoughts are their own, and do not mean endorsement by MannCup2013. We present them to our readers.
Some thoughts and impressions from the Mann Cup. First of all, it’s great to be back in Victoria. I lived here for seven years while I was rowing because the national training centre is located here. What a beautiful part of the country.
The Chiefs played a fairly typical first game after having along layoff and travelling across the country. They looked slow and tired and had trouble working together. Frankly, they can thank Evan Kirk’s sharp play in net for keeping them as close as they were in a 5-4 loss.
The mood back at the team hotel after the loss was sombre. Players at this level take the game very seriously and they don’t like to lose. To me, the game was encouraging from the Six Nations perspective because they only lost by one goal while playing poorly. That certainly suggested that they should be in good shape to win games moving forward.
The Shamrocks can run. Coming from back east, you hear that they’re fast and you can see it watching webcasts, but until you’re seeing it live you really can’t get a complete feel for just how good they are at pushing the pace. The Chiefs had faced running teams in Kitchener-Waterloo and Brooklin, but they hadn’t had to deal with the waves of defenders pushing the ball up the floor at them the way Victoria does.
Victoria lacrosse fans are fantastic. Every time we’ve come to the rink for a practice, there have been fans lined up to get tickets. There’s so much green in the stands it looks like St. Patrick’s Day every night. I love the passion that the fan base brings to the Mann Cup and I know the players do as well.
The officiating has been uneven at best. I liked the way the refs let the game flow in Game 1. The players were able to play the game but clear infractions were called. Just the way the game should go. Game 2 on Saturday night had to overcome the reffing to be a great game of lacrosse. Luckily for the fans, the players were able to manage that. I always try to give refs the benefit of the doubt, but I just can’t fathom something like calling a penalty on a team for having the bench door open to put them down 5-on-3. Players have been talking about not seeing as many 5-on-3 advantages all season as they did Saturday night. Here’s hoping we can find a middle ground, where infractions all called but the players are allowed to play the fast, physical game that we all love.
I wouldn’t want to be a third goalie. Young Brenner Jacobs handles the position well—you’ll be able to read more about his role in an upcoming story on the Major Series Lacrosse web site, but the quick version is that the third goalie doesn’t get to lay, but he’s the first guy on the floor for practice and the last guy off, taking shots whenever somebody wants to shoot. You have to be a good sport, and Jacobs is certainly that, accepting his role with a smile and learning all he can as he continues to work on creating a spot for himself at the highest levels of the game.
While I may not be a majority of the lacrosse population, I’m still shocked when I see that people actually thought the Six Nations Chiefs were going to sweep the Victoria Shamrocks in the 2013 Mann Cup No really, it’s true. There were some eastern fans who actually went on record saying this series would be over by Tuesday night and the Chiefs would be taking the Mann Cup back East where it’s resided since 2006.
There was NO WAY that was happening.
So now that we have that out of the way (there will be a couple more soapbox moments to come though) let’s get to focusing on the first two fantastic games we’ve seen so far between the eastern and western champs. Over the opening two games of this best of seven there’s still much to be decided as we look to crown a Canadian champion.
Both games could have gone either way and we could easily have a 2-0 scenario however theses two teams are so evenly matched I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an overtime game sometime soon.
Having spoken with players, coaches, GMs and fans from both teams one things is for sure and that is that this series is long from over and that everyone is in for more great lacrosse. So far that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Back and forth intense, nail-biting lacrosse highlighted by some incredible goaltending.
Matt Vinc and Evan Kirk are putting on an absolute clinic between the pipes, having combined to stop 110 of 137 shots with Kirk seeing most of the action. Both goalies are getting excellent help from their defences as plenty of those shots are from the outside and right into the logo but the body of work from both tenders has been incredible to watch.
Kirk has absolutely owned Minnesota Swarm teammate Tyler Hass on breakaways this series and continues to stand his ground, outweighing the Shamrocks’ shooters time and time again. Maybe Jeff Shattler has the right idea by shooting with his back to the net and not looking at the net as he rattled off two creative shots in tight during game two.
Another NLL teammate story was on showcase right at the end of game one when, with nearly no time left on the clock, Cody Jamieson and Matt Vinc were a short breath of air away from each other at the Rocks’ goal with the game in the balance. “I just hope time ran out,” smirked Vinc after making his final save of the night with no time left on the clock. off his Rochester teammate to give the Rocks game 1.
That was the first time the Chiefs had lost in their past 12 games but they quickly got back on the winning track the next night backed by some impressive performances. Jamieson showed why he was the MSL Play-off MVP and one of the best players in the game today however Alex Kedoh-Hill was an incredible spark plug for the Chiefs.
Stepping in for the injured, again, Billy Dee Smith, AKH wasn’t exactly a straight trade defensively for the Chiefs and for the Rocks it was a welcome sign to see one of the trees taken out of the forest. However, what AKH lacks in size he makes up for with speed, heart and a very accurate shot. A hat-trick in his first game was game MVP worthy for myself and others but not the selection committee as he was what Jesse King was for the Rocks in game 1.
Speaking of game MVPs, while they are often inconsequential, being rewarded for your efforts on the floor is nice at times but who’s picking these awards? Nothing against Jamieson’s four point effort Friday night but without Evan Kirk and is 39 saves that game isn’t close. Then in game two Kedoh-Hlll, as discussed above saw his teammate Roger Vyse take the MVP honours with a one goal three assist night. Once again, Kirk could have taken the award after he made 43 saves.
So with the series tied 1-1, we’re now down to the best three of five starting tonight at 7pm. One thing both teams will need to address is the work with the man advantage. During the regular season, the Rocks were 45% on the power-play and 30% in the post-season; after two games they’ve managed six goals on 19 chances but in game two there were a concerning 4-15. Collectively the teams are 8 for 33 and that needs to change for both sides.
Game three will be much like games one and two. Intense, back and forth, exciting lacrosse as the fans deserve and it will be anyone’s game right to the final whistle. Not sure what those predictors were thinking when they thought this series would be over in four cause it’s going at least six and maybe seven games. So enjoy it!
One last point of note- and this is directed more towards to the fans in the corner of the Chiefs end. It became apparent that some of the fans in that corner were none to impressed with the Six Nations Chiefs fans banging their traditional drums throughout the game…. LIVE WITH IT!
According to reports some fans were so upset with the noise that they threatened to call the police…. Guess what, Skip Dick has been sitting above you for 8 years and many more years as a die hard Shamrocks fan and you’ve never one complained about his drumming, so let it go.
In 2005 when the Shamrocks won the Mann at Bear Mountain there were no less that six drums every game brought by Victoria fans but now that it’s the opposing team’s fans you take issue with that? Sorry not going to happen.
Remember, this is lacrosse, the little brother of war, Baggataway, The Creator’s Game- drums are a part of the game’s culture and more so in the Native American culture where this great game was founded. So to the Nations’ fans I encourage you to bang your drums! Bang them loud and cheer on your Chiefs.
And to the Shamrocks fans I have one easy solution for you- BE LOUD.