Oakville Rock and Peterborough Lakers Face-Off in MSL Championship Series
With both teams having tough series in the semi-finals, it seems appropriate that the MSL Final Series should be between the top two clubs during regular season play. The Peterborough Lakers finished first with a record of 12-3-1, followed in second place by the Oakville Rock with a record of 10-5-1. In the two games against each other - they split - with Oakville defeating Peterborough in the season opener 8-7 and the Lakers winning 12-7 in the second game.
If the adage of championships are won with defense is true, it starts in the net and both teams have championship capable goaltending. The Rock's Nick Rose led the MSL with 9 regular season wins and has continued that success in the playoffs backstopping all 4 wins in Oakville's six games series victory over Six Nations. Rose has a sparkling 6.66 goals against average and so far is saving 87% of shots on net. In comparison, the Lakers' goaltending in the first round elimination of Brooklin included all three team goalies seeing action with the bulk of play going to veteran Matt Vinc who collected 3 wins stopping 82% of shots, along with registering a goals against average of 8.71.
Beyond the goalies, on defense, the Lakers are led by team Captain Robert Hope, along with veteran Ian Lord and capable defenders Eric Shewell, Chad Tutton amongst others. The Rock although not as playoff experienced as the Lakers can respond with Brad Gillies, Brandon Slade, Jason Noble, Luc Magnan and Billy Hostrawser.
On offence, there are a multitude of key players for both teams including MSL co-scoring champion Kyle Buchanan, Corey Small, Shawn Evans, Holden Cattoni, Cory Vitarelli and Adam Jones for the Lakers. The Rock's top snipers include Andrew Kew, Matt Van Galen, Challen Rogers, Johnny Powless, Wesley Berg and Dallas Bridle.
A key factor in the series will be face-offs. No one is better in MSL than the Lakers' Jake Withers. He is largely responsible for Peterborough leading the league in face-off success. During the regular season, the Lakers won 59% of face-offs taken. In the playoffs, the Lakers are winning an incredible 76% of face-offs.
Specialty teams often decide the outcome of who wins a series. During the regular season, the teams were close when comparing specialty teams. Both had a success rate of 46% on the power play. On the penalty kill, the Lakers had a success rate of 69% compared to 64% for the Rock. Both teams scored 6 short-handed goals and had their power play units scored upon 4 times while up a man advantage.
After one round of playoff success, the Rock penalty kill success had improved to 67% being scored on 6 times during 18 short-handed occasions, whereas the Lakers has dropped off to 58% giving up 16 goals on 38 man short situations. So far in the playoffs, the Lakers have greater success than Oakville scoring 17 times in 30 power play opportunities for 57% success. The Rock have scored 8 times in 31 man advantage situations for 26% success rate. Of interest - the Lakers have scored 5 goals while short-handed. Oakville has yet to score while short-handed.
Experience may be the determining factor in this series. The Rock have been operating out of Oakville since 2012 and this is their first appearance in the Major Series Lacrosse Championship series. The Lakers with a much longer existence have been in 14 of the last 15 MSL Championship Final Series. The two teams previously played against each other in the 2016 MSL semi-final series which the Lakers won in 6 games. That aside, we know lacrosse fans will be watching some superb MSL championship lacrosse action.
The winner of this MSL Championship series earns the reward of hosting the 2018 Mann Cup. The Western Lacrosse Association Championship series is currently ongoing. The Victoria Shamrocks and the Maple Ridge Burrards are tied 1-1.
The Schedule for the MSL Championship Final series is:
1. Tues. Aug. 21 at Peterborough 8pm
2. Thur. Aug. 23 at Oakville 8pm
3. Sun. Aug. 26 at Peterborough 7pm
4. Tues. Aug. 28 at Oakville 8pm
5. Thur. Aug. 30 at Peterborough 8pm
6. Sat. Sept. 1 at Oakville 7pm
7. Mon. Sept. 3 at Peterborough 7pm