The defending Mann Cup champion Peterborough Lakers played to an 8-8 tie against the Brooklin Redmen on Wednesday night at Iroquois Park Sports Centre.
It was a back-and-forth defensive battle, with neither team holding more than a two-goal lead at any point of the 70 minutes played. Brooklin led 3-2 after the first but it was even from there, with the teams tied at six after the second and seven after the third.
The Oakville Rock have been keeping pace with the Lakers all season with the two going back and forth for first place. The Lakers got a break when Oakville tied Cobourg last weekend, giving the Lakers a one-point edge. That edge is gone, for now, but it’s not something the players will dwell on.
“You come to every game to get two points, not one,” defensive coach Bobby Keast said. “Evan Kirk was amazing. The D, we had some moments that we were not where we want to be, but for 65 of the 70 minutes we did what we wanted. With the mistakes fresh in our minds we can easily make corrections tomorrow night.”
Nick Chaykowsky and Shawn Evans traded goals in overtime, which was a full 10 minutes.
Evans accounted for half the Lakers’ offense in his best performance of the season, scoring four times and adding two assists. It was his best game of the season – prior to Wednesday’s game, he’d only scored four goals in seven games, though he does sit atop the assist race with 29.
“Every team is pretty good in the MSL now. Every team is getting better. Every night when you suit up it’s a grind and you have to be ready to play. If not, the other team’s going to beat you,” Evans said. “It’s a long season and we just have to get ourselves in a good spot and keep going.”
Kirk, fresh off his NLL Cup win with Saskatchewan, made 56 solid saves in his season debut between the pipes. Kirk made several tough stops off Rush opponents playing for the Redmen, like Curtis Knight, Ryan Keenan and Mark Matthews, who led Brooklin with two goals and two assists. Dan Lintner contributed two goals and one assist. Zach Higgins made 41 saves.
Brooklin outshot Peterborough 64-49 and had five power play chances to Peterborough’s two.
“We knew it was going to be tough with their full lineup back playing. It was a hard fought game,” Evans said. “It would have been nice to come out with the two points but unfortunately we played a full game and more and tied.”
The Lakers have no break as they’re right back in action Thursday night at the Memorial Centre to host the Cobourg Kodiaks, which Evans says is an important game. The Kodiaks sit in fifth place in the six-team league, but beat perennial powerhouse Six Nations Chiefs earlier this season before tying the Rock. They’re having their most productive season since moving from Kitchener-Waterloo.
“It’ll be another hard fought battle,” Evans recognized. “Cobourg’s getting better. They beat us last year in Peterborough so they’re going to be hungry and wanting a win so we have to be ready to play.”
Peterborough holds top spot in the MSL with a record of 6-1-1.