One More Game
Dickson: “It’s game seven, anything can happen.”
It’s almost comical how closely matched the Six Nations Chiefs and Peterborough Lakers are.
For the second year in a row, the Chiefs and Lakers will be playing in a seventh game to decide who will advance to the Mann Cup. The Lakers had a 2-0 series lead before the Chiefs won the next three to put the Lakers on the brink of elimination. the Lakers won the sixth game on Thursday night to force the tiebreaker Monday night at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Last year the Chiefs defeated the Lakers in game seven at the Memorial Centre.
“It’s another game seven, I don’t know how many of these we’e been in,” said Lakers defender Brad Self. “This is why we’re athletes, this is why we play, we’re competitors, and last year is last year and we’re looking forward to Monday night, obviously our goal is to get the win and to play like we did tonight and that’s what we’re planning to do.”
It really is anybody’s game. Home floor may not help the Chiefs – each team stole a game in the other’s barn. The Lakers have filled three fan buses for this game so expect an almost even cheering section for each team.
Each team has had dominating performances from several players. Specifically, Ryan Benesch and Dhane Smith have led offensively for the Chiefs, and Shawn Evans and Curtis Dickson for the Lakers. Smith has 15 goals and Benesch 10 in the series. Every time the Lakers score a goal, Smith seems to be the one to answer back seconds later, frustrating the Lakers goaltending and defense. Evans only has 10 goals (a small number for him) but seems to assist on nearly every goal. Dickson has put on a clinic, putting the team on his back a la John Grant Jr used to do. He has scored three goals or more in four of six games including a five goal effort in game six. Most of his goals are of the highlight reel variety.
Both teams are very deep at forward and if their stars falter, any number of other players could step up. For the Chiefs, Randy Staats has been very good as has Kasey Biernes. Adam Jones is scoring at a torrid pace and Cory Vitarelli is always dangerous at the side of the crease for the Lakers.
The Lakers have the edge on transition with players like Brad Self, Nick Weiss, and Brock Sorensen all able to run the floor and put the ball in the net. In game six, the Lakers ran the floor every chance they got to try and tire out the Chiefs defense. It worked, as they were able to get on a run and put 13 past the goaltenders.
“[Six Nations] have a big strong defense and when they get out there and get settled they do a pretty good job,” Self said. “Our offense has battled hard all season long and we thought maybe we’d give them a little bit of a break and push the pace a little bit and alleviate some of the match-ups a little bit. If we’re running the floor some of the guys maybe have to key on us a little bit and give our offense a bit of space.”
Dillon Ward started the series in goal for the Chiefs but was pulled in favour of veteran Brandon Miller in game two. Miller has played every game since except for 2:11 of game six. Matt Vinc played four games for the Lakers while Evan Kirk started two. All four goaltenders are worthy of starting, but one has to assume that the coaches will go with their longtime veterans in Miller and Vinc for game seven; they faced off against each other in last year’s game seven as well. Miller has notoriously been a thorn in the side of the Lakers.
Self said chasing Miller in game six was a confidence booster.
“For how well he’s played it’s nice to know that we can put the ball behind him consistently,” he said. “But nothing changes going into game seven. We know what he’s capable of and we just have to continue to push forward and find different ways to score goals.”
Curtis Dickson said the Lakers have all the faith in the world in Vinc after a great performance in game six.
“Vno was a tight in the crease, he stood on his head,” he said, “and they have some pretty potent shooters on their offense. Any time you can get a big save like that and give us that momentum. We’d been kind of trading goals with them but Vno was making saves, giving our offense a lot of confidence and were able to get out there and get up a couple goals.”
“It’s game seven, anything can happen.” he continued. “That was our mentality coming in here tonight, just win tonight and get to game seven. it’s going to be a battle. every game in this series has been so far and we’re excited to get up there and play.”
Game time is 8:00pm and can be watched live at http://jvisportsnetwork.com. The Mann Cup begins Friday evening in Victoria, BC.
Game 1 Peterborough 6-4
Game 2 Peterborough 18-14
Game 3 Six Nations 7-6
Game 4 Six Nations 8-6
Game 5 Six Nations 11-6
Game 6 Peterborough 13-10