Shamrocks take game one 5-4

Tonight’s game recap comes from WLA contributor, Patrick McMillan. Photo is courtesy of Judy Teasdale Photography.

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It’s the time that all lacrosse fans wait for every year, it’s the trophy that every lacrosse player dreams about playing for, and it’s the chance of a lifetime for these two teams. The Six Nations Chiefs are coming from the East after dominating the Major Series Lacrosse playoff finals with a four game sweep of the Brooklin Redmen. Cody Jamieson was named playoff MVP after a successful playoff campaign where he posted 19 goals and 20 assists for 39 points in only 9 games. The Victoria Shamrocks were no slouches though, coming into the 2013 Mann Cup as Western Lacrosse Association champions playing only one more game in their total playoff run with Jeff Shattler walking away as playoff MVP in the west after posting 8 goals and 26 assists for 34 points.

Both teams were coming into the first game of the 2013 Mann Cup focused and ready to battle. Six Nations opened up game one starting 26-year old Evan Kirk between the pipes with veteran Brandon Miller backing up. The Shamrocks countered with eastern import Matt Vinc in net, and Matt Flindell backing up. With Corey Small still out of commission since an injury suffered early in the second round of the WLA playoffs against the Langley Thunder, and Junior ‘A’ call-up Brody Eastwood heading back to Stony Brook University in New York, the ‘Rocks would have some serious holes to fill coming into game one. The Chiefs traveled with the core members of their offence and defence with Junior ‘A’ call-up Johnny Powless of the Six Nations Arrows drawing into a handful of games throughout the eastern playoffs.

Junior ‘A’ call-up and Ohio State Buckeye, Jesse King got the call to replace Brody Eastwood on the left side for the ‘Rocks, while Powless drew in for the Chiefs. With a packed crowd at Bear Mountain Arena both teams jumped out to an aggressive pace to start game one. It was mostly a back and forth affair in the first couple minutes, but the Chiefs were the first to strike with Cody Jamieson sticking one in the back of the net after a nifty cut to the inside, across the crease and the Chiefs were up 1-0 early. The Shamrocks tightened up the defence only allowing the Chiefs to the outside until the Shamrocks were rewarded from defenseman Ben McCullough after a quick run up the floor and cutting to his wrong side he potted one over the shoulder of Chiefs net-minder to tie the game at 1-1. The Shamrocks would continue to pepper their Eastern opponent throughout the rest of the first period, however the Chiefs would take full advantage of any and all opportunities in close with Powless skipping one in on Vinc; after another cut across the crease, he faked high and then swung it around the ‘Rocks goalie to bring the Chiefs up 2-1. Craig Point would round out the first period scoring with less than 2 minutes left in the opening frame after Jamieson swung the ball across the arc to Point who took a few steps in and blasted it to the top right corner behind Vinc. The Victoria Shamrocks were certainly getting more chances offensively than the Six Nations Chiefs, but the Chiefs were finishing the opportunities they were given. End of the first period finished with the Chiefs up 3-1 on the Shamrocks, but with the Shamrocks outshooting the Chiefs 22-12.

Craig Point was the guy who finished out the first period scoring so why wouldn’t he be the guy to open up the second period? After only 1:38 into the second period, the crafty righty took a pass from the left side, wound up for a shot, tucked it in while running into the inside and twisted it into the top corner to bring the Chiefs up 4-1. The ‘Rocks would continue to pepper the Chiefs net-minder into the second period, but Kirk stood tall in net turning away almost everything shot his way. The Shamrocks would eventually get back on the board on the power play thanks to Rhys Duch after a fantastic pump-fake, he wound up, pumped it high and powered one in on net. Kirk got a piece of it but the rocket of a shot from Duch simply overpowered the goalie to bring the score to 4-2 for the Chiefs. The second period combined for 16 of the total 22 penalty minutes after the rough play started to pick up again. Both teams were adamant that they were the ones that were going to be bringing home the hardware, and they were going to do so by any means necessary. After 2 periods, the Six Nations Chiefs led the Victoria Shamrocks 4-2, however the Shamrocks would lead in the shot total 38-19 after two periods.

With the hometown Shamrocks down by only two goals, they knew that they needed to hunker down and play some solid lacrosse against a team that doesn’t lose very many games and boasts some very solid playoff experience. The teams were back and forth as both defenses tightened up, only allowing a few quality scoring chances at both ends of the floor. However, junior ‘A’ call-up, King, would solidify his roster spot in the 2013 Mann Cup after a monster third period. King was a man possessed in the final frame starting with an unbelievable solo effort goal that found him dancing around the entire Chiefs defence, cutting in on goal, faking near-side and sticking the ball far side to bring the ‘Rocks within one goal. His second of the night came on the power play after he was set up on the lefty shooter spot, just above the dotted lines. He would play catch with Jeff Shattler, and Rhys Duch before unleashing a cannon to the top left corner, stepping in with everything he had to tie the game at 4-4. The pièce de résistance of the final period and game one of the 2013 Mann Cup came from the stick of King again after he cut through the middle, tied up by his defender, but took the pass near the crease. After getting his hands free, he would heave the ball over his shoulder and directly into the top right corner of the net. A beautiful goal from the call-up, and the game winner as the Victoria Shamrocks would climb back from a 4-1 game to take game 1 of the 2013 Mann Cup by a score of 5-4. Game 2 comes tomorrow, Saturday, September 7th at 7pm from Bear Mountain Arena.

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