New Westminster, B.C. – Game three of the 2017 Mann Cup between the New Westminster Salmonbellies and Peterborough Lakers was as expected; a slug fest. After dropping the first two games of the best of seven, Peterborough was able to hold on after a late New Westminster surge to get there first win of the series 13-12 at the Canadian Sr.A Men’s Lacrosse National Championships.
After Hall of Fame brothers Wayne and Ed Goss dropped the bar for the ceremonial face-off, in the same arena where they made their family name famous, it was the visitors who used the energy inside QPA to jump out to a hot start. In the previous two games it was New Westminster, who raced out to a quick lead but game three was the complete opposite as Peterborough found themselves up 3-0 in the first three minutes. Adam Jones opened the scoring ninety seconds in from his familiar spot just outside the dots. Turner Evans and Curtis Dickson added to the lead as the MSL champs looked to make an immediate impact in what had to be considered a must win game.
With their back against the wall, Lakers Head Coach Mike Hasen knew his team’s back was against the wall and knew they had to be better. “Offensively we tried to keep to our game plan; our shot selection was better tonight.”
Kevin Crowley got New Westminster’s first goal of the game, this time on the power-play and the home-crowd had some life. After Justin Goodwin and Joel McCready scored, we were back to even at the halfway mark of the period. The final four goals of the period, two for each team, were scored in the span of less than two minutes. Dickson with his second and Zach Currier shorthanded, were matched by two power-play goals from Mitch Jones and Logan Schuss. By the time the opening twenty had ended, we had our highest scoring period of the series with the teams tied, 5-5.
The second period showed just how evenly matched these two clubs are, as they would trade goals and take turns with the lead but when they wold head back to the locker-room, the score remained tied 9-9. Shawn Evans had a second period hat-trick and Kevin Crowley had a pair as the two NLL teammates, continue to try and out do one another. Matt Vinc and Alex Buque were just as busy trying to keep the ball out of the net as they would combine to make 43 saves. As expected, Vinc got the start Monday night after playing quite well in relief of Evan Kirk in game two.
Holden Cattoni, who lead the MSL in goals during the regular season, got his first goal of the game to get the Lakers on the board a minute and a half into the third. After Brad Self and Schuss exchanged goals two minutes apart, Peterborough would take a one goal lead into the final ten minutes of regulation. Kyle Buchanan would restore the two goal lead, then Dickson would score what proved to be the winning goal with just over a minute remaining. With Buque on the bench for the extra attacker, Crowley and Mitch Jones would score to get the Bellies within one but we wouldn’t see our second over time of the series
After the game, Salmonbellies bench boss Steve Goodwin had nothing but praise for his group after a tough loss “We battled hard but came up a little short,” Goodwin said. “We will regroup and prepare for the game tomorrow.”
Shawn Evans (3+4) and Kevin Crowley (4+4) were named gave MVPs as the Lakers get their first win of the series. The seven points gives Evans seventeen for the series, good enough for 121 points all-time in the Mann Cup, pushing him past Gary Gait and into a tie with older brother Scott for sixth. Next up, is Colin Doyle who sits fifth with 137 points.
Matt Vinc was able to get some redemption from a game one loss making 38 saves for Peterborough while Alexis Buque turned aside 42 shots at the other end. Hasen was much happier with his entire team’s effort in game three, especially defensively where they were much better at closing gaps and getting out on the hands of the New Westminster shooters. When asked if Vinc would get the next start, Hasen responded coyly, “we’re gonna sleep on it.”
Game four of this series goes Tuesday night from historic Queen’s Park Arena as Peterborough will look to bring the series back to all square as the teams will play game two of three, in three nights.