Derek Hopcroft scored 34 seconds into double overtime to give the Brooklin Redmen a 7-6 win over the Peterborough Lakers, forcing a seventh game to decide their Major Series Lacrosse semi final series. Game 7 will be played Sunday night at 8 pm in Peterborough. On the winning goal, Kiel Matisz drove towards the net, drawing a pair of Peterborough defenders, then flipped a pass back towards Hopcroft. With Jimmy Purves rushing out towards him, Hopcroft quickly released a shot that skipped off the concrete and found a way through Lakers goalie Tyler Carlson.
The Redmen felt a huge sense of relief when that ball went in. Veteran forward Shawn Williams said “It usually happens quick like that. It was a little bit of ‘oh my god’ on both sides. We’re still alive. Game 7 in Peterborough…we’ll take it.” If Game 7 is anything like this Game 6, it’ll be an exciting ride for players and fans alike. The Redmen came out of the gate pushing hard and controlling much of the territorial play. They scored 3 goals, all from players getting loose and receiving the ball right on top of the crease. The Lakers got goals on accurate outside shots from Shawn Evans and John Grant, Jr. to stay close, trailing just 3-2 after the first period.
Mike Melnychenko scored his second of the game 42 seconds into the second period to extend the Redmen’s lead then Grant scored again to keep things tight. A Gavin Prout marker late in the frame made it 5-3 for Brooklin heading into the third period. Both Carlson for Peterborough and Zach Higgins for Brooklin continued their outstanding play into the third and neither team could connect again until Josh Gillam ripped home a low to low shot from the high slot at 10:03 to pull the Lakers within one.
Just under three minutes later, Purves picked up a loose ball in the Peterborough zone, raced up the floor, made a perfect diagonal cut to the middle and ripped home a laser to the top corner, tying the game 5-5. A few minutes after that, Jordan Houtby scooped the ball up in Brooklin’s end and took off straight up the floor. He saw a defender coming from the bench (a little early, as the ref’s hand went up for too many men on the floor) and quickly released a shot that bounced in to give the Redmen the lead once again. That lead was short-lived, however, as Evans connected 29 seconds later to make it 6-6.
The Lakers got the final possession of regulation with just seven seconds to play and the ball at their own crease. Brad Self sped up the floor with the ball and fired a pass to Jordan MacIntosh at the edge of the crease. With a pair of defenders collapsing on MacIntosh, the ball flew past, ricocheted off the back boards and went directly to Evans, who fired it home. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the buzzer sounded to end the game just as the ball left Evans stick.
The first, 10-minute, overtime went back and forth with both teams having chances but unable to find the back of the net. Brooklin took possession off the opening faceoff of the second overtime and eventually the ball found its way to Matisz, whose third assist of the night was the most important. Hopcroft barely got the shot off before Purves arrived, having to shorten his stroke, but the ball found a somehow found a hole and the game was over.
Lakers coach Jamie Batley said his team played pretty well defensively and the last shot just happened to find a way into the net. “That one at the end had eyes. We haven’t normally been giving him that shot,” Batley said, and noted that if their offence had been working the way it should the game wouldn’t have gone to overtime in the first place. “We should be scoring more than six, we know that. We had a lot of great looks. We’ve got to get more than six. We have to give that goalie credit, too. He’s no slouch.”
Game 7 of the exciting series will go Sunday, August 18 at 8 pm at the Memorial Centre in Peterborough. It can be seen on live pay per view webcast.
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