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Story By Janice Huckin, Photos by Kasey Eriksen (ISN)

September 6, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – It was a standing room crowd at Bear Mountain Arena for game 1 of the 2013 Mann Cup and, despite a shaky start, the home team Shamrocks managed to squeak out a 5-4 win over the Six Nations Chiefs.

Whether it was just Game 1 jitters, or a strong performance by the visiting team, I couldn’t say but this could be a long series.

Starting in net for the Shamrocks was former Chiefs goaltender Matt Vinc while the visitors started with Evan Kirk. After the tumultuous welcome, the Chiefs quieted things down when they scored first. At 3:24 Kasey Beirnes got in close and beat Vinc. It took almost 6 minutes before Victoria replied and, as happened frequently in the league playoffs it was a great transition break by Ben McCullough who scored unassisted to knot the score at 1 at 9:10. Johnny Powless put the visitors back in the lead at 10:16, again getting in close in front of the net. Before the period ended, Craig Point connected on a shot to the top corner at 18:55 and that gave the Chiefs the 3-1 lead heading into the dressing room. Victoria outshot Six Nations 22-12 but most shots were coming from well out and were right at the goaltender.

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A couple of Shamrocks fans arrive early and claim their places (Photo: Kasey Eriksen / Island Sports News)

Six Nations opened up a 3-goal lead with the first goal of the middle frame, Point picking up his second of the night, putting the ball over Vinc’s shoulder. That goal came just 1:38 into the period. The Rocks replied at 5:02, Rhys Duch connecting on the power play with a hard shot that Kirk got a piece of. That was all the scoring in the period, as penalties were early and often, but mostly of the offsetting variety. Again the Shamrocks offense was very tentative as play was very physical and as in period 1, the advantage in shots favoured Victoria by a margin of 14-7.

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Chiefs Mike McNamara tries to get Shamrocks Tory Gardner to give up the ball (Photo: Kasey Eriksen / Island Sports News)

The third period belonged to the home team but it took Jr. ‘A’ Shamrock call-up Jesse King to ignite the offense and get the crowd back into the game. At 5:39, King cut to the net and made no mistake to put the ball in the back of the net. Just over a minute later, he came up with another, this one from the dotted line on the power play at 6:57 and it was a new ball game, tied up at 4-4.

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Shamrocks Mitch Jones eyes a teammate and prepares to fire the ball to him (Photo: Kasey Eriksen / Island Sports News)

You know what, sometimes when things are working, they are really working and at 9:55 King scored the winner. It was one of those that should make the highlight reels as he again got to the front of the net, turned around and fired a backhander that handcuffed Kirk. There was still a lot of time left. Victoria took a ‘holding the stick’ penalty but the penalty kill team did a great job on the rag and held the Chiefs off the board. Six Nations applied some pressure but Matt Vinc came up big at the other end of the floor allowing the home team to preserve the victory. Shots on goal in the final period favoured the visitors 11-8 with the final tally leaning towards the Shamrocks 44-30.

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Children wait patiently for their time on the floor to pick up all the thrown Frisbees (Photo: Kasey Eriksen / Island Sports News)

Jesse King was named Victoria’s star of the game with the hat trick and some gritty play in front. Hopefully the other guys took notice how that works. Ben McCullough and Rhys Duch had the other Shamrocks goals while Cory Conway had a couple of assists.

For the Six Nations Chiefs it was Craig Point leading the way offensively with a pair of goals while Kasey Beirnes and Johnny Powless had the others. Cody Jamieson was named the Six Nations star of the game with 3 assists.

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Shamrocks Jon Harnett does his best to keep Chiefs Cody Jamieson from shooting on net (Photo: Kasey Eriksen / Island Sports News)

Game 2 is Saturday at 7:00. It’s expected to be another full house and another physical battle with lots of interesting officiating. That’s all I’m saying about that.