With the 2013 Mann Cup two games in and with the Six Nations Chiefs tying the series Saturday night, both teams know exactly how big the next one is; The Victoria Shamrocks came close in game 2 losing in only the last three and a half minutes of the game to Chiefs sniper, Cody Jamieson on a beauty twister to the right side for the game winner. Both teams took a day off to recharge and refocus on the task at hand, one game at a time.
Matt Vinc was given the starting duties again for the Victoria Shamrocks with Matt Flindell taking relief duty, while the Six Nations Chiefs keep the hot hand of Evan Kirk going in between the pipes with Brandon Miller backing up. With a lot of talk still circling around the incredible night from youngster, and junior ‘A’ call up, Jesse King; both teams had to adapt. However, with his collegiate career calling back for him, King was left watching at home in Columbus, Ohio. Instead, Blair Pinnock draws in on the left side, and veteran Derek Lowe sees his first action of the 2013 Mann Cup. On the other side, the Six Nations Chiefs continue with the same roster that got them the win on Saturday night, and look to carry on with their impressive play.
The Victoria Shamrocks have trailed early every game so far of the 2013 Mann Cup, playing catch up throughout the first period. However, this time is different, and maybe a little foreshadowing of things to come. A different kind of pace started this game, more free flowing where teams were taking chances on the run and shooting with a lot more purpose than previous games. The ‘Rocks broke the goose egg first for the first time this series thanks to a beautiful pass from the left side of the floor from Shamrocks captain, Scott Ranger to an unmanned Jeff Shattler on the door step of the Six Nations crease. Shattler simply one touched it into the back of the net to give the Shamrocks a 1-0 lead. Cory Conway wasn’t far behind, sniping one from the outside to the top right corner, blasting the ball past Chiefs’ net-minder Kirk. Putting a stop the rolling Shamrocks, Kasey Beirnes stepped into one just on the dotted line thanks to a messy change from the Shamrocks. As he took a pass from Colin Doyle, he ran in and planted his feet and ripped it to the top right corner, 2-1 Shamrocks. With the play starting to settle in, both teams systematically running their offences trying to expose any kink in the armour of the rallying defences on both sides of the floor, but it was Conway who finally breaks the ice again for the Shamrocks, with another one of his patented outside lasers, this one straight to the same spot behind Kirk. The ‘Rocks really laying it on now as rookie Mitch Jones records a beauty as he sets a back pick on a Chiefs defender, rolls to the inside and as he cuts through the middle, he takes the pass from Rhys Duch and fires it over his shoulder, bouncing it just around the feet of Kirk to give Victoria a 4-1 lead. With the Victoria Shamrocks in full control, Rory Smith would take a high-sticking penalty which would eventually lead to Cory Conway recording his third of the game and completing his hatrick blasting one from the point to the top corner, again. The Six Nations Chiefs finally decided to stop the bleeding and put in veteran Brandon Miller replacing Evan Kirk in goal. However, the first shot that Miller would see would go straight to the back of the net as ‘Rocks speedster, Karsen Leung ran down the right side of the floor, and on the run, ripped one far side between Miller’s hip and shoulder to close out the first period giving the Shamrocks a 6-1 lead.
The Chiefs were going to have to battle back and put up a lot of goals to get back to a position to win, however with 40 minutes before the end of the game, it was in the realm of possibility. The Chiefs were first to strike in the second frame as Stephen Keogh took the pass in transition from Jesse Gamble, and stepped into a side arm rip, using his defender as a screen to give the Chiefs some life only 58 seconds in. The second period was much like the first with both teams chipping away at the opposition’s defence. With a few good chances at either end, relief goaltender Miller played very well as he kept the Chiefs out of disaster mode playing huge as he turned away everything he saw, until the final minute of play where Shattler finally pierced the armour as he ripped one past the Chiefs goalie to finish out the second period with a score of 7-2 for the Victoria Shamrocks.
With the Chiefs buzzing thanks to the play of Brandon Miller, momentum was starting to build for Six Nations, however the third period started with a barrage of shots from the Victoria Shamrocks as Scott Ranger had some very close calls in close on the Chief’s crease but couldn’t get one by the Six Nations wall. Finally, Ranger records his first goal of the 2013 Mann Cup after a nifty move behind the net to lose his defender and then cut across the crease and fake once, twice and put it near side past Miller to bring the score to 8-2 for the Shamrocks. After a slashing penalty from Lowe, the Six Nations Chiefs were given the chance to regain their momentum and start rolling again, and as Cody Jamieson has done so well for the Chiefs during the Mann Cup, he snipes one near side to give the Chiefs some life. Roger Vyse then scores a beauty as he bum-rushed the Shamrock defence forcing Dan MacRae to grab hold of Vyse bringing him to the ground, but then Vyse had the presence of mind to chip one in low on Vinc, an absolute beauty from the Six Nations sniper. Keogh wasn’t far behind as he dropped the muscle on his defender and forced his way into a scoring position lifting his stick high in the air to reach over the Shamrock net-minder. Now down by only three, the Chiefs had all the momentum heading into a huge 5 vs. 3 power play thanks to a couple undisciplined penalties from the Shamrocks defence, but a massive penalty kill from the Victoria Shamrocks defence including Vinc, the ‘Rocks were able to come out still up by three and closing in on the final minute of play. The Chiefs weren’t done yet though, as Doyle came up the side boards, and with their goalie pulled for the extra attacker, he whipped a pass to Beirnes for the easy one timer goal, with 56 seconds remaining.
The Victoria Shamrocks would hold on for the 8-6 win to take an important 2-1 series lead in the 2013 Mann Cup. Game four goes tomorrow: 7:00 at Bear Mountain Arena. The Six Nations Chiefs look to tie up the series again while the Victoria Shamrocks look to take a huge 3-1 series lead.