Mann Cup: Salmonbellies draw first blood

Logan Schuss of the New Westminster Salmonbellies is guarded by Robert Hope of the Peterborough Lakers during the 2017 Mann Cup. (Photo credit: Kendall Taylor)
Logan Schuss of the New Westminster Salmonbellies is guarded by Robert Hope of the Peterborough Lakers during the 2017 Mann Cup. (Photo credit: Kendall Taylor)

The New Westminster Salmonbellies made good use of their time off between their WLA final win over the Victoria Shamrocks and game one of the Mann Cup versus the Peterborough Lakers. The Salmonbellies came out on fire Friday night at Queens Park Arena, weathered a second period storm to tie the game in the third and eventually win in overtime 12-10 over the MSL champion Lakers.

The Lakers defeated the defending Mann Cup champion Six Nations Chiefs in five games to earn the right to fly west to try to rectify their 2015 loss to the Shamrocks. It’s the second Cup appearance for Lakers’ head coach Mike Hasen and his staff after they took over the helm in 2015.

The Lakers defeated the Salmonbellies in six games in 2010 during their last Mann Cup meeting.

The ‘Bellies took care of the Shamrocks in five games in the WLA final, but their series ended days before the MSL, so they put their time to good use studying their new opponents.

“We didn’t know if we were playing Peterborough or Six Nations so a few of us took to watching footage on YouTube and seeing as much as we could to try to track down their tendencies,” said Salmonbellies player of the game Logan Schuss. “I know they did the same, all of our games are online. That’s just how it is with social media and technology these days, every team is going to try to get an advantage.”

Whatever they learned worked, as the ‘Bellies fired three straight goals past Matt Vinc in the first period. They led 4-1 after the first, but it looked like the Lakers were still able to surprise them a little bit as they took control of the game to lead 7-5 after two. Curtis Dickson had a hat trick for the Lakers in the frame, who shook off any jet lag with a fire period.

“Both teams had a good look at each other,” Dickson said. “We knew what they were going to bring to the table. They executed their game plan really well. I don’t think that’s the best we can play.”

Schuss said the Lakers were exactly what the ‘Bellies expected.

“They’re a fast, athletic team,” he said. “They bring a lot to the table. We came out strong tonight and they came out flying in the second which we knew they were going to. We just battled all the way through and we came out with the win.”

The ‘Bellies came back in the third to tie the game at eight and force overtime.

Shawn Evans and Kevin Crowley, with his third of the game, traded goals in the full 10-minute extra frame before the Lakers got into penalty trouble with the unfamiliar WLA referees. Dickson scored shorthanded but Schuss tied the game back at 10. Joel McCready got the game winner at 8:54 and Mike Messenger potted an insurance marker.

Schuss led the ‘Bellies with two goals and seven assists and was a big factor in keeping his teammates calm during the overtime. He said the practice that the ‘Bellies get is a big advantage for their conditioning.

“We hate [running] in practice,” he chuckled. “Back east the teams don’t practice because they’re so far away and guys are out of town. One positive thing about being out west is we’re all within 20-30 minutes of here and we have a lot of local boys so we do get in one or two practices a week and unfortunately it’s a lot of running.”

Now the Lakers will just try to prevent them from running away with the series when the two teams meet again on Saturday night for game two.