New Westminster, B.C. – Game four of the 2017 Mann Cup between the New Westminster Salmonbellies and Peterborough Lakers was another great display of lacrosse by both teams and ended with the series all even at two games a piece. Peterborough never trailed, got a tremendous effort from Evan Kirk between the pipes and forced the series to go six games, with a 9-7 win at the Canadian Sr.A Men’s Lacrosse National Championships.
Monday night, the Lakers held on late to get their first win of the series, 13-12 and would look to Kirk in game four as they looked to get the best of seven series back to level terms. The lone change for the Salmonbellies saw Jr A call-up Carter Dickson draw into his first Mann Cup as Zach Herreweyers sat after failing to score in the opening three games.
Before the opening face-off could take place, the ceremonial face-off was on deck but due to some interesting gamesmanship, it never happened. As the series has gone on, Captains Curtis Hodgson and Robert Hope have shown some confusion as to who should ‘win’ the ceremonial draw. Well, Tuesday night both teams decided to surround their captains and exchange some pleasantries, causing the officials to come in to break up the party. It was a very comedic scene to watch all the players huddle around the centre dot.
Through three games, the team that scored first has gone on to win and for the second straight game, it was the Lakers drawing first blood, as Turner Evans found space to beat Buque. Two minutes later, the strangest thing to happen in the series saw Holden Cattoni from Peterborough ejected from the game for wearing a metal chain/necklace under his gear. As per CLA Rule:13-B – Illegal Equipment – players wearing jewelry shall be assessed a two-minute minor and a game misconduct penalty.
It’s seems like a pretty petty rule to eject a player from a National Championship for wearing a necklace. Why not just tell him to take it off and move along? The Lakers couldn’t have been pleased with the call but according to Lakers staff, the necklace is “long gone now.”
Losing one of their top offensive threats didn’t seem to phase them though and they would as use that call as motivation.
Shawn Evans scored the second goal of the game four and half minutes in; passing older brother Scott for sixth All-Time in Mann Cup scoring with 122pts and is now 15pts behind Colin Doyle for 5th place. Connor Robinson and Mitch Jones would tie the game at two before the game was ten minutes old, but that’s when the Lakers would find another gear. Thomas Hoggarth, Turner Evans with his second and Curtis Dickinson’s first vaulted Peterborough to a 5-2 period lead.
Peterborough would add to their lead just over two minutes into the second as Hoggarth would again find a juicy rebound in front of Buque and put it home. An inside presence has been imperative for both teams this series and it was a key factor for the Lakers win in game three. Hasen loves Hoggarth’s ability to run the floor but has been most impressed with his play in his own end.
Kevin Crowley on the power-play would get the Salmonbellies within three but just forty seconds later, Mark Steenhuis would get his first of the series for a quick reply. Logan Schuss’ first of the game came just before the halfway mark of the game with a nice short-side bouncer past Kirk. There would be no goals for nearly ten minutes when Jones would get his second for New Westminster to pull the home team to within two, 7-5, heading to the third period.
Steady defender, Brett Mydkse capitalized in transition to pull his team to within one just three minutes into the third, on a great solo coast-to-coast effort. Kirk and Alexis Buque would match each other save for save over the next seven minutes as the tempo of the game began to slow down after playing four games in five nights. Curtis Dickson would score the game winner with ten minutes left in the period as the teams traded goals late down the stretch.
Mike Hasen continued to rotate his goaltenders and if there was any doubt about going back to Kirk after his game two performance, Hasen said his decisions was a simple one, “This season we haven’t had many stinkers from out goalies but they’ve always bounced back and tonight Kirky kept that trend going.” Both Kirk and Buque did all they could to lead their team to a win but it was Kirk who would be left standing at the end of this fantastic goalie duel.
Kirk made 49 saves on 56 shots while Buque, making his 16th straight start in the play-offs, and 22nd over-all, was just as impressive making 40 saves on 49 shots. The Lakers goalie would be named game star while Mitch Jones, with a five point night (2+3) was given the nod for the Bellies.
For the fourth straight game, scoring first proved pivotal and back to back slow starts are a bit of a concern for New Westminster Head Coach Steve Goodwin. “We need better battles on the defensive loose-balls, especially early on,” commented Goodwin after game. “They are working hard to get second and third possessions so we need to work smarter on out box outs.” Not much time prepare but this is a very resilient Salmonbellies and you know they’ll be ready to come out firing.
Game four of this series goes Wednesday, as the teams will play their third game in as many nights before a day off on Thursday. Game six will be on Friday and if necessary, a game seven will be played on Saturday.