“Peterborough finds a way to get under your skin.” – Bob Heyes, head coach, Victoria Shamrocks
It’s Saturday, right? Well, Sunday as I type this now. Not much to report on our trip as I stayed up so late last night writing that I slept in and missed a morning drive around town to sightsee. I’m okay with that; I needed the sleep. But here I am again up late writing! Trying to get down some important things from tonight’s game.
After the Lakers won tonight, they invited us fans to join them at Milestones for a postgame meal. Those who arrived at the restaurant after us got big cheers as they walked in, none louder than for Mark Steenhuis, one of our fan favourites. The coaches came in and gave us all handshakes and hugs. It was nice to feel like we were all with family, even though we’re so far from our hometown in Peterborough. I’ve met a lot of great people on this trip who I already feel close to. It’s kind of like being at summer camp. The empty dressing room they put the media in tonight for interviews also smelled like summer camp, oddly enough—I sense a trend here. I’m on vacation!
It sure didn’t take long for the Lakers and Shamrocks to get a hate on for each other. The game started tamely enough, perhaps because Scott Evans was a healthy scratch, replaced by Cory Vitarelli, so Rory Smith’s main target wasn’t available.
The Lakers took this one 14-7, chasing Aaron Bold from the net in the third period in favour of Matt Roik, who has faced the Lakers before, in 2010 with New Westminster.
The game went back and forth for awhile, as it did in game one, and slowly the Lakers opened up a large lead on the Shamrocks. Curtis Dickson found his groove and exploded for four goals and three assists, while Adam Jones had three goals and three assists. Vitarelli had two in his return, as did Steenhuis. Chad Culp, Brad Self, and Scott Self had one each.
Brock Sorensen had Lakers fans halfway out of their seat when he got the ball on a breakaway, because he can score some pretty goals on transition, but was stopped this time. Nick Weiss was stoned on two consecutive breakaways in the third.
It looked like the Lakers settled into being themselves. Having seen the team play this season, the game one loss, though justifiable, didn’t sit well with any of them and they were determined to be better. Dickson, especially, picked up the pace, shooting often and pushing his way through anyone in his way. We haven’t seen him fly yet in this Mann Cup, but trust me, we will.
Big props to the Lakers defense tonight—they held a very powerful team to seven goals. Dan Dawson was held pointless. Guys like the Self brothers, Mike Kirk, Robert Hope, Stephen Hoar, Brock Sorensen, Nick Weiss, Mark Farthing, and Eric Shewell, and I apologize if I’ve missed anyone, play better and better every time they’re on the floor. As a group, they played as one. They limited the shots taken and protected Matt Vinc, and they are huge reason (half!) the Lakers are in the position they’re in. Defensive guys are usually talked about for one of two reasons: either they make a mistake that costs the team a goal, or they score a goal themselves. But their main job is just to block shots, cause turnovers, and help the goalies, and the Lakers D is excelling at that.
For me, as a fan, there was a scary moment in this game. Rory Smith is fun to watch (moreso when he’s on your side), but he just lost it tonight. It’s unclear what happened, as Shawn Evans ended up with a spearing major, and Shamrocks coach Bob Heyes suggested it was a head shot, and video evidence shows Evans misfiring a shot at Smith. Whatever set Smith off, he attacked Evans immediately. Evans didn’t want to fight, so he protected himself, but Rory got him down on the floor and began picking him up and dropping him by his under armour. Turner Evans came in to rescue his cousin Shawn and got some punches in the face from Rory. Smith went BACK to Shawn Evans then, who had staggered up, and jumped him and knocked him down again. STOP ATTACKING A GUY WHEN YOU’VE GOT HIM DOWN. I love rough stuff in lacrosse. I don’t love when guys keep pounding on their victims when they’re down. Honest to god, Smith looked like a lunatic out there, attacking whatever Laker was in his way. You should not be intentionally trying to hurt someone.
I care about the players I spend so much time writing about, so I get nervous when someone tries to maul them—I don’t want them injured! For all that, Smith only got five for fighting and a game misconduct, so it’s unlikely he’ll be suspended. But if you watch the highlight reels, check out this incident.
Bob Heyes defended Rory after the game, saying that the Lakers have been targeting him since the ball first dropped on the series.
“Rory has been outstanding this season,” he said. “Every team in this league knows that they want to target him, and he has not had a fight this year. He has played because he wants to play lacrosse. But sometimes when things like today happen and guys are getting targeted, and Rory had enough of it and took to it. Right from the first faceoff first game coming down and Chad Culp’s giving him a shot to the head or Curtis Dickson’s giving him a shot to the head so they’re targeting him and it just gets frustrating, so that was the boiling point that we’re not getting things called out there when we ask for it. We asked for it in our own league and they didn’t do anything about it. So it’s a point of frustration but it’s over and done with that we’re here to play lacrosse.”
I have a feeling that some Lakers fans would respectfully disagree on who’s been targeting who, but there’s no question that Rory Smith plays a helluva game. Heyes will need to keep him on a short leash the next few games, because the Lakers love it when Smith gets tossed from games.
My favourite moment of the night was when I saw a tweet from Hinda Koza-Culp, who threatened to fly to Victoria to punch Rory Smith if he whacked her husband with his wooden stick one more time. Chad Culp laughed after the game when he heard this and said with a smile, “She’s all talk.”
It’s been interesting at the games so far. As an out of town fan, I always feel a general sense of unease until I’m used to an arena. Everyone sitting near me has been indifferent, which is totally okay and the norm I expect, except for one guy who didn’t want to move to let me in my seat and kept insisting I was sitting in the row in front of him. I also heard something disturbing from the other end of the arena. A fellow traveller overheard a fan or two using profane language and yelling at the Lakers “You’re gonna die, buddy!”
PSA: Statements like this are uncool anywhere, in any sport, especially when there are children around to enjoy the game. Empty threats, of course, or hopefully so. A good heckle makes others around you laugh. It shouldn’t make you pause and wonder if you should be afraid. Let’s make a good example for our kids. /Rant over.
In contrast, I’ve also had contact with some GREAT Shamrocks fans via Twitter who have been trying to help me navigate the Q Centre’s internet system. Hoping for a stable connection on Monday. Thank you to everyone who tried to help. No matter the team, lacrosse is a family and off the floor we should support one another.
In conclusion, the Lakers won game two 14-7 and the series is now tied. Head coach Mike Hasen was pleased with his team’s effort and wants to play a similar game on Monday.
“Hopefully we’ll pretty much duplicate this,” he said. “Offensively, if we can keep the ball moving hot and moving like this, we had everybody touching the ball and scoring and if we can do that we’ll be okay. We talked about what we needed to fix this morning here at shoot around. The boys came out to play tonight and the ball was moving well and if we can do that it makes it difficult to stop them. I think we caught Boldy a little flat on a couple of them and they just squeaked in and I think we were on the right side tonight.”
Sunday is an off day, on which both fans and players will be resting up for Monday.