In the first two games of the Mann Cup many trends began to take shape. First, and most obvious, the Langley Thunder kept winning. Secondly, the Peterborough Lakers continuously outshot the Thunder, and by a wide margin. Thirdly, in the games the Thunder won, they won by one single goal. It was these trends that led head coach Jamie Batley to say prior to the game, “we only need to score one more goal than them” and also ensure there would be a few changes to the lineup, but nothing in terms of offensive strategy. Consider Peterborough scored twelve and fourteen goals in their losses in game one and two respectively for an average of thirteen per game. With that average in the MSL season, the Peterborough Lakers would’ve been 12-1-1 and would not have lost once in the playoffs. Yet they still went into Monday’s Mann Cup game three down two games to none.
The teams traded goals early as Alex Turner and John Grant Jr scored. John Grant was a game-time decision after leaving game two late with what was officially called a back injury. During warm-up and his first few shifts, it was obvious Grant was still not 100% but this is the Mann Cup and not only would the pain not stop Grant, but he proved a 50% John Grant Jr is still one heck of a lacrosse player. Langley would score on a four-on-four situation, and add a second fifty seconds later. With Tyler Carlson coming into game three with a save percentage slightly higher than 60% he was on a short leash as the third goal spelt the end of his night and Mike Thompson’s chance to shine. Thompson was tested almost immediately, and responded which led to a Shawn Evans goal at the other end. Iannucci would score his second of the game before Brad Self broke out in transition shorthanded to pull Peterborough within one. The first period would end with Langley ahead 4-3.
It took all of sixteen seconds for Grant to tie things up in the second period while Mike Thompson continued to shine in relief of Carlson. Tor Reinhold would beat Thompson for his second of the night to put the Thunder back on top, but Peterborough would find their rhythm. Scott Evans retied the game before Cory Vitarelli and Jordan MacIntosh, who was benched for game two, pulled the Lakers away in thirty-eight seconds. The run not only got the fans involved, but also sent Brodie MacDonald to the bench in favour of Steve Fryer. In game two, the Thunder played Fryer for one shift and the change ignited a four goal run to tie the game. Down two goals, Fryer made a spectacular save before Vitarelli took out his man behind the net. The hit was big and loud, and it resulted in a high sticking penalty, one that the jury is still out on. Iannucci would not only use the momentum of the goalie change, but the powerplay as well to score his third of the game and he’d follow it up with Chris White in the box with under two minutes to play in the second. Both teams would head to the rooms knotted at seven, but it was clear the upcoming frame would be the biggest of the Peterborough Lakers’ season.
Early goals to start periods have been the name of the game so far in the series and the third period of game three was no exception as Lewis Ratcliff scored in forty-five seconds. Turner would follow that with his second to give Langley their second two goal lead of the night. After a brief four-on-four, Peterborough would kill off a slashing penalty to MacIntosh. Eleven seconds into after the penalty expired MacIntosh would score to cut the lead to one. The goal would spark a six goal run over a five and a half minute span, the most of any team at any point in the series. During the streak, both Grant and MacIntosh would score their third goals of the game. Although Brodie MacDonald started the second, he was replaced by Fryer near the end of the run. Once again the goaltending change led to a goal by Langley as Matt Leveque drew his club within three goals. An outlet pass to Mark Steenhuis with the Thunder net empty, however, would result in Peterborough’s fourteenth goal of the game, and would put the icing on the cake.
As they’ve done all series long, the Lakers surpassed the fifty shot mark with fifty-three on Monday night. Meanwhile, Langley continued to opt for the ‘quality over quantity’ approach with just thirty-seven on net. Shawn Evans led all runners with six points (one goal, five assists). No team ever wants to go down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, so it was important for Peterborough to grab the victory. It still makes for an interesting game four, to happen Wednesday evening. On one hand, a win by the Lakers will tie up the series, but a win for the Thunder will put the home side on the ropes.
Game four goes Wednesday night at 8pm (eastern) from the Memorial Arena in Peterborough. If you can’t make it in person, the game can be viewed in Peterborough courtesy of TV Cogeco, or worldwide via pay-per-view webcast thanks to JVI Productions. Webcasts can be purchased and viewed by visiting www.webcast-sports.com