PETERBOROUGH – Four unanswered third period goals led the Six Nations Chiefs to a second straight victory over the Peterborough Lakers on Thursday night, 9-5. Tied at five early in the third period, the Chiefs rattled off four straight in a strong third period. The Chiefs now lead the best of seven MSL final series two games to one.
“Everything gets exploited a little bit when you lose,” head coach Joe Sullivan said. “Penalties were a problem, defense was a problem, and offense was a problem tonight.
“For two games in a row, our offense came out flat, and we’ve not experienced that all year, where we’ve generated five goals in a game and then back to back to boot,” he continued. “So your offense has got to score not only to get you on the board and get you hot, but also to take some pressure off your defense and our defense didn’t get that chance tonight to really be able to breathe for too long to be able to make those little mistakes that all teams will make. So everything kind of got exposed in a bigger way, obviously when their offense did get hot in the third period and we just couldn’t respond to it.”
The Lakers found themselves in an early hole, down 4-0 by ten minutes in, and eventually ending the first down 5-1. The Chiefs’ first two goals were scored 46 seconds apart by Cody Jamieson and Jeff Shattler, and some fans were left wondering whether the Lakers had ever stopped playing game two. Steven Keogh, Jesse Gamble, and Roger Vyse had the other first period goals. Mark Steenhuis had the lone Lakers’ goal of the period, a shot from Evan Kirk’s doorstep.
Matt Vinc came out for the second period a changed man, and made some highlight reel saves through the second and early part of the third, before a team defensive breakdown. Vinc didn’t allow a goal through the second period before letting in four in the third, including three in a span of three minutes.
“We tend to leave our goalies alone,” Sullivan said. “They’re professional and they know how to carry themselves and handle themselves. We tried to get Matt the shots that he’s asked us for and tonight just wasn’t a good night for him, but I’m confident that he’ll bounce back; that’s what he’s done; he’s a winner and a champion in his own right so I look for him to come back and answer the bell for us.”
Evan Kirk was rock solid in goal for the Chiefs throughout the game.
Chiefs rookie Vaughn Harris says the team is relying on Kirk to make great saves.
“He’s playing really well right now,” Harris said. “He’s just playing at another level.”
The Lakers were outshot 42-37. The Chiefs led most of the game in shots but the Lakers did equal them on the shot clock through the second period.
Harris was 8 for 12 in the faceoff circle. The young rookie has had a spectacular series so far, factoring in on the scoring every game, including two assists tonight.
“It’s just ball movement,” Harris said of his success. “It’s working with guys, talking before we go out there and just playing harder, and staying out of penalty situations.”
And penalty situations there were. Scott Evans picked up six minutes at the end of the first period after cross checking Jesse Gamble to the ground and then throwing a solid punch to Gamble’s head. Gamble left the floor trickling blood from a cut above his eye, but chances are it came from his helmet as he hit the floor. Yes, a six minute power play to the Chiefs! Jeff Shattler picked up four minutes and Mark Steenhuis two, early in the second period. Shattler was going alone for a high stick on Andrew Suitor, but Steenhuis picked up the equalizer and then was flattened from behind by Shattler. Steenhuis almost immediately picked up another penalty as he left the box. Shawn Evans was given a goaltender interference penalty after bowling over Kirk after Evans scored. Fans gave Evans a standing ovation for the move as he made his way to the penalty box. Chad Culp also picked up a questionable goaltender interference penalty for checking Kirk behind the net. John Grant was high sticked in the face in the first period with no call.
Both Evans picked up additional ill-timed penalties in the third, Scott for illegal cross checking, and Shawn for elbowing at 16:27, putting the Lakers down a man at a critical time. Overall, the Lakers did not take an inordinate number of penalties, but the penalties they did take were untimely and undisciplined, and could have been prevented with self-control.
Sullivan was not happy with the team’s discipline, and while he did not name individual players, said that some decisions will be made regarding the lineup on Monday.
“[Some] guys I would say are probably going to not find themselves in the lineup on Monday,” Sullivan said. “We just can’t afford to go down 3-1. You want to win with the guys that got you here, but we have to send a message to our team when every penalty we took tonight was from an offensive player. We have to address that it’s not acceptable. It’s not been an issue for us all year and now it is.”
Scoring for the Lakers in the second period were Shawn Evans, Steenhuis, and John Grant. Stephen Hoar tied the game at five under two minutes into the third period, but Gamble responded for the Chiefs three minutes later to score the winning goal. Craig Point, Colin Doyle, and Keogh had the other Chiefs goals.
Tracey Kelusky suited up for the Lakers for the first time this season after spending the regular season out with an injury. He took the place of Matt Crough, who was a healthy scratch.
“We just needed to make a change,” Sullivan said. “We only scored five goals up there on Tuesday so you take a veteran guy that’s been through this before and hope that he’ll be able to spark some offense.”
Kelusky only saw a few shifts during the game, but looked to be in his usual energetic form when he was on the floor, although he was held pointless.
“I’m sure he would have given us a spark if we could have gotten him some more floor time,” Sullivan said, “but we’re in the penalty box, so really it wasn’t a fair shake and assessment of what Tracey can do for our team because he just didn’t get an opportunity to really get going.”
Game four goes Monday at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Game five is back in Peterborough on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m.