LAKERS WIN MANN CUP IN FIVE GAMES
It may be a sports cliché, but the Peterborough Lakers proved that “Defence Does Win Championships”. Leading the series 3-1, the Lakers wrapped it up with a 7-5 win over the home team Victoria Shamrocks.
As has been the scenario the entire series, the action was fast paced, hard hitting and highly skilled. With little margin for error, the Shamrocks came out flying scoring the first goal on the first shot just thirty seconds into the game. Chris Wardle found space between goaltender Mike Poulin’s five hole bouncing a shot to give Victoria a 1-0 lead.
The Shamrocks seemed to have more zip than the Lakers as they out-hustled the defending Mann Cup champions on loose balls and rebounds displaying plenty of energy. Until the 14:30 mark - when Kyle Matisz out battled two Shamrock players for a loose ball deep in the corner, cut hard to the net and beat Victoria goaltender Pete Dubenski with multiple fakes before depositing the ball in the net. Game tied 1-1. Seen numerous times in this series, the Lakers followed up with another goal quickly. At 14:51 Shawn Evans blasted the ball beating Dubenski knee high on the stick side to give Peterborough a 2-1 lead.
Future Shamrock star Larsen Sundown tied the contest at 15:55 when he unleashed a cross hand move on the crease beating Mike Poulin on the short side. Less than three minutes later at 18:27, Tyson Gibson fired a low bouncing shot that whizzed by the glove side of Poulin to put Victoria ahead 3-2 to end the period. Plenty of action in a period where the Shamrocks outplayed the Peterborough as reflected in the shots on goal 19-15 in Victoria’s favour.
Action in the second period saw Peterborough pick up their intensity, particularly on defence. The game became super physical with hard hitting in front of the net and on loose ball battles. Going on the power play, the Lakers’ Cory Vitarelli zipped the ball by Dubenski on a quick stick conversion to tie the game 3-3 at 5:59.
Victoria was playing somewhat overly aggressive and ran into penalty problems giving the Lakers a two-man advantage. The Lakers took a 4-3 lead at 12:03 when Shawn Evans notched his second goal of the game on the power play. The Shamrocks thought they had tied the game, but a crease violation by Chris Boushy at 14:37 disallowed the goal.
The Lakers defence was formidable allowing their offence the opportunity to take over. At 14:48 Kyle Buchanan fired a beauty whizzing the ball by Dubenski to give Peterborough a 5-3 lead.
Unwilling to give up, Victoria battled back and just over a minute later Graeme Hossack scored a break away goal beating Mike Poulin stick side at 15:41 to close the lead to 5-4.
Holden Cattoni restored the Lakers’ two goal lead at 18:53 as he unloaded a driving down shot beating Dubenski on the glove side. Goaltender Mike Poulin made a break away save with two seconds left in the period to help Peterborough maintain a 6-4 lead. The second period was good for the Lakers as they outscored Victoria 4-1 while outshooting them 21-14.
The stellar defence by the teams continued in the third period. Incredible saves by both goalies kept fans on the edge of their seats and boisterous as they cheered their respective teams on. There were no goals for over the first half of the period. This included Victoria holding on as Peterborough had a two-man advantage including a superlative save by Victoria’s Pete Dubenski on a Kyle Buchanan breakaway.
Victoria tightened the score to 6-5 when Chris Boushy beat goaltender Poulin on the glove side. Peterborough’s veteran defender Kyle Sorenson was injured on the play and needed assistance to the dressing room. He snapped his Achilles tendon ending his season.
The Shamrocks hurt themselves with unnecessary penalties. The Lakers cashed in on the power play at 15:30 when Thomas Hoggarth managed to beat Dubenski with five seconds left on the man advantage, giving the Lakers a 7-5 lead. The Lakers defence continued to excel and the series ended as Peterborough held on for the victory. Shots on goal in the third period favoured Peterborough 18-10 for a game total 54-43 advantage for the Lakers
Game stars were sniper Shawn Evans for Peterborough and goaltender Pete Dubenski for Victoria.
In a series that was exceptionally physical, players on both teams were battered and bruised. The Lakers’ Matt Gilray sustained a broken finger in Game 4 which will require surgery and kept him out of Game 5. It was no secret that Mark Matthews was hampered the entire series with an upper body injury.
Victoria lost two key forwards in Casey Jackson and Tyler Pace to injury in Game 4 which meant missing Game 5. The Shamrocks also lost a third offensive player when Chris Wardle was injured in the second period of Game 5.
Lakers’ goaltender Mike Poulin backstopped all four victories in the series and was the recipient of the Mike Kelley award as the Most Valuable Player of the Mann Cup. The modest and humble Poulin was gracious in acknowledging the award stating “It could have gone to a number of players including the Shamrocks goaltender Pete Dubenski”.
As is the happenstance of life events – if Lakers’ other goaltender Matt Vinc’s wife was not awaiting the birth of their second child (which kept Vinc in Ontario), the Mann Cup MVP Mike Poulin would not have had the opportunity. The Lakers have rotated their goaltenders all season and in the playoffs. It is quite likely Poulin would not have played all five games if Matt Vinc had been able to be with the team in the Mann Cup.
For the Peterborough team - they were successful in their pursuit of a “3Pete” as they have won a third consecutive national championship, a feat not accomplished for almost a quarter of a century since the Six Nations Chiefs of 1994-1996.
This was the Peterborough Lakers 17th Mann Cup in club history (their 8th in 16 years). It also avenged losing the Mann Cup to Victoria in 2015. This third consecutive Mann Cup victory creates the opportunity to win a fourth straight. The last time this was accomplished was by the Peterborough Timbermen during the 1951-1954 seasons.
Major Series Lacrosse Commissioner Doug Luey commented, “It was a great Mann Cup. Victoria is a much younger team than Peterborough. The series had great goaltending, outstanding defence and the Lakers’ offence came to the forefront when necessary.”
When asked about how Ontario based Major Series Lacrosse teams have dominated the Mann Cup having won 13 of the last 15 championships, Commissioner Luey noted, “The registration levels of lacrosse players in Ontario has played a huge part of Ontario winning multiple championships at all levels, including Mann Cups. He did caution, “If Ontario does not get a handle on the declining levels of registered players, things could change significantly in the very near future”.
That is a concern for the immediate future. But for now, the Peterborough Lakers are the 2019 Mann Cup champions. And YES – Defence Does Win Championships!
Shawn Evans – 2 goals
Kyle Buchanan – 1 goal; 4 assists
Holden Cattoni – 1 goal
Thomas Hoggarth – 1 goal
Kiel Matisz – 1 goal
Cory Vitarelli – 1 goal
Graeme Hossack – 1 goal; 1 assist
Larson Sundown – 1 goal; 1 assist
Chris Boushy -1 goal
Tyson Gibson – 1 goal
Chris Wardle - 1 goal