With the Eastern division seeds all clinched, and the Six Nations Chiefs wrapping up the Western division, the only thing left to decide in terms of Major Series Lacrosse is who will hold home floor advantage in the first round of the Eastern match-up between Kitchener/Waterloo and Brampton? It’s obvious both teams want it. Brampton’s home record is 4-2 at the Powerade Center, while 3-4 away from it and the Kodiaks hold court on a floor much bigger than most are used to at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.
Kitchener/Waterloo Kodiaks’ coach John Lovell said before the game, “no doubt, this is a must win for us”. Â Yes, it’s true all teams make the post-season so records wouldn’t determine who gets in, it still decides home floor. The scenario was simple for Kitchener going into Sunday night’s matchup in Brampton behind one point in the standings with two games to play: win and we have a shot, lose and we’ll be playing in Brampton.
The Excelsiors came into Sunday night scoring an average of 6.3 goals per game while surrendering 9.0. With Anthony Cosmo, and his goals against average slightly north of seven, in net, the Excelsiors always have a chance. However, they would almost hit their average for scoring in the first period. Thanks to goals from Paul Dawson, Carter Bender, John McClure and Joe Resetarits, the home team would hold a 4-0 lead at first intermission.
Pat Saunders, who is familiar with the Powerade Center from playing with the Inferno of CLax, scored with Kyle Perreira in the box. Saunders’ goal was followed by a nifty play from Brendan Thenhaus to cut the lead in half. Brampton would score four unanswered to finish the period though, scoring two goals eighty seconds apart, and another two later on separated by twenty-four seconds. The middle two goals were both scored by Bender who completed his hat trick on way to a four goal evening.
His fourth would come before the two minute mark of the third to put Brampton up 9-2. Despite Jamie Rooney taking a five minute high sticking penalty for running Brendan Doran into the end board after a scrum on the previous shift, penalties to Dave Campbell and Perreira would give the Kodiaks a four-on-three powerplay. They would capitalize, thanks to Aaron Wilson. Thenhaus and Wilson both scored within two minutes of the first goal, and Kitchener would hit at least three posts down the stretch, but the remainder of the game was all Cosmo as Brampton wins 9-5, and secures home floor advantage.
With thirty-seven seconds to go Paul Dawson and Scott Johnston dropped the gloves, and like gentlemen the helmets. It was an abbreviated fight thanks to a vicious right uppercut from Dawson that obviously stunned Johnston and left him bloodied in the penalty box. Both were assessed five for fighting with Dawson picking up a game misconduct. The game had a chippy feel before this, so with at least three more games to play in the playoffs, you can be sure we haven’t heard the last of some of these battles.
Cosmo made forty-nine saves of fifty-four shots, and clearly stole the game. With Matt Vinc qualifying for the post-season in his sixth game, clearly he was making a case for himself to be the starter. Coach Mike Hasen has a great problem on his hands. Not only does he have two top tenders to choose from, but he’s won championships with both in the past twelve months. Carter Bender led all runners with four points, all goals, while Kitchener’s Pat Saunders equalled his points total (one goal, three assists).
The game was broadcast live on the Lacrosse Radio Network and can be revisited on demand at any time. Sadly, this was the final MSL broadcast for LRN. However, fans looking to catch more of the action can tune into live webcasts free for the remainder of the regular season, and by purchasing pay-per-views in the playoffs. The broadcasts are produced by JVI Productions and can be seen at either majorserieslacrosse.co or www.webcast-sports.com starting with a free broadcast this Thursday night featuring the Peterborough Lakers and Brampton Excelsiors at 8pm.