The New Westminster Salmonbellies took a two games to none lead over the visiting Peterborough Lakers on Saturday night in game two of the 2017 Mann Cup series at Queen’s Park Arena with a 13-8 win.
While the Lakers and their fans are probably shocked at the current state of things (this author included), the Salmonbellies sure aren’t.
“I don’t know if we expected it but that was our goal, to come out and protect our home floor,” Mitch Jones said. “Obviously we know a team coming from the east is going to be talented and smart but we’re pretty confident in our own abilities.”
Jones led the ‘Bellies with two goals and three assists while junior call-up Connor Robinson had a hat trick and two assists. Adam Jones (no relation that we know of!) led the Lakers with three goals and one helper.
Obviously, being from the east, I have more knowledge of the Lakers than I do the ‘Bellies. But fans who watched the Lakers steamroll over everyone else in the MSL this summer definitely did not expect a 2-0 deficit to start this series, and especially not a 13-8 loss.
“The first game I’ll give to travel day issues, but there’s no excuse for this game,” Lakers’ defensive coach Bobby Keast said. “The guys have to come prepared and focused to play a full 60 minutes and start off with that first shift.”
It’s that first shift that’s been the problem so far for the Lakers – Kevin Crowley has scored on the first shot of each game. They’ve been able to build up large leads. The Lakers came back in game one but game two’s five goal deficit was too much and ended up being the difference.
Jones said it doesn’t matter how the ‘Bellies start the game, so if they can’t repeat that success on Monday, it’s not a concern.
“Sometimes we start slow but we’re a resilient team and we find ways to win,” he said. “We have a really close group of guys and we play for each other. Whether we have a quick start or a slow start we’ll adapt.”
The ‘Bellies have been brilliant thus far – shocking the Lakers into submission and remaining calm when things got out of hand late in both games. They were able to chase starter Evan Kirk on Saturday. They’ll keep doing what they have been, but they do expect the Lakers to bring more heat in the coming games, so they’ll have to make some adjustments when that happens.
“I’ve been playing Peterborough teams since my early junior days and they like to win,” Jones said. “They’re not going to roll over. They’re going to keep coming at us in any way they can.”
Both Jones and the Lakers know that this Mann Cup is far from over.
Game three is Monday night at 7:30 p.m. PDT and can be watched live at http://www.playfullscreen.com.