The road to the Mann Cup begins on Tuesday night as the Peterborough Century 21 Lakers start the MSL playoffs against the Brooklin Redmen in game one of the first-round best-of-seven semi-final series.
The first-place Lakers were scheduled to face the fourth-place Oakville Rock, but a league-wide scheduling adjustment to save on travel costs has them facing the third-place Brooklin Redmen instead. Only one point separated the Rock and Redmen in the standings, and head coach Mike Hasen doesn’t see any difference in their skill levels.
“I don’t think it really matters who we’re playing,” Hasen said. “I really do believe that every team is so close.”
Peterborough won the season series 4-0, outscoring the Redmen 55-36. The closest game was the last, on July 19, which the Lakers won 12-11.
Evan Kirk played the first game, and Matt Vinc the last three in goal for the Lakers. Zach Higgins played the first two for Brooklin and Mike Poulin the last two after his championship season with the Georgia Swarm ended. Each team has a capable one-two punch in net.
The top four league scorers will all play in this series, with the Lakers holding the top three spots.
Top three scorers from each team:
- (1) Shawn Evans, Peterborough – 29G/74A = 103 points
- (2) Kyle Buchanan, Peterborough – 32G/62A = 94 points
- (3) Holden Cattoni, Peterborough – 48G/30A = 78 points
- (4) Reilly O’Connor, Brooklin – 18G/59A = 77 points
- (10) Dan Lintner, Brooklin – 39G/24A = 63 points
- (13) Ryan Keenan, Brooklin – 11G/40A = 51 points
The Lakers’ firepower this year may be unmatchable, even by the Six Nations Chiefs, who the Lakers fully hope to meet in the MSL final. That list above doesn’t even include Curtis Dickson or Adam Jones, two of the games best players.
The Lakers are still missing a couple of players to injury. Cory Vitarelli, an important cog in the Lakers’ left side, had hernia surgery this summer. Nick Weiss is hoping to be back for the Mann Cup after he rehabs a shoulder injury. Chad Tutton won’t play. Brock Sorensen is a maybe.
The Redmen’s injured list is short, but they are still missing players. Mark Matthews and Shayne Jackson are playing in the QSLL in search of a President’s Cup. Kiel Matisz never came back after the Swarm’s season ended. Chris Corbeil only suited up for two games.
The Lakers like the matchup with Brooklin.
“They like to run,” Hasen described the Redmen. “They have a young group offensively that moves the ball well. Defensively, with Poulin as the goaltender, they’re physical and they put (pressure on us). We have to make sure the ball is hot on our side of things.”
The fans should also like this matchup. Peterborough and Brooklin have a long history. Every game this season was closer than the scores might indicate. The teams combined for 175 penalty minutes in their four games. Neither team is willing to give an inch, and the intensity always steps up in the playoffs.
Iroquois Park Sports Centre, with its cement floor and lack of air conditioning, is classic arena to watch a game, and only an hour up the 115/401, so the Lakers are hopeful a lot of fans can make the drive and drown out the Durham crowd for games two, four and six (if necessary).
Playoff packages are on sale at the Memorial Centre box office and can be purchased in person, by calling 705-743-3561 or online at http://www.memorialcentre.ca. Season-ticket holders had until 5 p.m. on Monday to claim their seats for the first round. All unclaimed seats will go on sale to the general public at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
The second-place Six Nations Chiefs will host the Oakville Rock in the other semi-final series.
Game 1: Tuesday, August 1 Peterborough
Game 2: Wednesday, August 2 Whitby
Game 3: Tuesday, August 8 Peterborough
Game 4: Thursday, August 10 Whitby
Game 5: Monday, August 14 Peterborough*
Game 6: Wednesday, August 16 Whitby*
Game 7: Thursday, August 17 Peterborough*
All games 8 p.m. starts.