The Durham Turfdogs overcame a 7-goal performance by Patrick Saunders to down the Brampton Inferno 15-12 in Canadian Lacrosse League play in front of a record-setting crowd at the Cobourg Community Centre Saturday afternoon. Nic Grasby scored 4 goals and 4 assists to help the Turfdogs win what was officially a Brampton home game but was witnessed by 1,014 fans in Cobourg, many of whom will be hoping that CLax can bring a team to the city full-time for next season.
Grasby and Kyle O’Brien scored on penalty shots 24 seconds apart near the end of the first quarter to go along with a pair of power play goals in the frame on the way to a 6-3 lead after the first period. Grasby completed a natural hat trick in less than two minutes when he connected again at 0:29 of the second quarter then set up Tyler Tanguay for yet another power play goal to stretch the lead to 8-3. Brampton showed better discipline the rest of the way and started to mount a comeback. They scored four straight goals at one point en route to a 6-2 third quarter that brought them all the way back to tie the game at 10-10 heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Inferno actually led for a couple of minutes after Ryan Campbell’s goal opened the fourth quarter. O’Brien and Grasby scored back to back before Saunders’ seventh of the night set the stage for some heroics from Scott DeFrancesco. The speedy lefty swooped in down the slot just as the ball bounced free from a tangle of players in front of Brampton goalie Jay Preece, snagged the ball and reached around the crowd to bounce home what would prove to be the winning goal. A pair of empty netters made the final margin seem larger than it really was.
Grasby said the Inferno took advantage of mental mistakes by the Turfdogs to get back into the game, but “we’ve got a lot of character guys on this team and some of the guys that played here last year had to step up and not worry about the refs or the other team and just do our jobs to complete the win,” Grasby said. “It was a big win for us.”
Coach Jason Crosbie helped Durham players to settle down and get back to playing what he likes to call Turfdog lacrosse. “There was some individual play out there and Croz just had to bring us back in and tell us, hey, don’t play as individuals,” Grasby said. “Move your feet on offence…defencemen, do your job. We’ve got to play our team game, a hard-nosed, in-your-face game and within the last five minutes we got back into that.”
Saunders said it was nice to have a good game personally but it means a lot less when the team doesn’t win. “I just had some good looks, a couple of breakaways, a couple of balls bounced into my stick with an open net but I think our team needs to be more disciplined at the start of games,” he said. “They must have had about six power play goals [actually 3 power play and 2 penalty shot goals]. We just can’t be giving those up.”
With the loss in the books, Saunders was already thinking about next week’s rematch. “Next week’s big. We’ve got Toronto and then these guys again on the road,” he said. “Toronto’s a good team, but they’re beatable. Every team in this league is beatable. It’s a big two wins we need to have.”
Saunders was named the game’s first star and Grasby the third star. The Inferno’s Ben McCullough grabbed second star honours with 4 assists combined with a stellar and gritty defensive effort. Brampton’s starting goalie, Steve Fryer, was knocked out of the game when McCullough checked Grasby into him as the Turfdog star took a shot on top of the crease.
It appeared that Fryer hit his head on the cross-bar as he fell backward. Grasby was slow to get up, but Fryer lay on the floor for several minutes before he made his way to the dressing room and didn’t return. No update on his condition was available.
Durham 15, Brampton 12
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