The Victoria Shamrocks took it to the Six Nations Chiefs in the opening period and made their 6-1 lead after the first 20 minutes stand up for an 8-6 win and a 2-1 lead in the Mann Cup championship series. Cory Conway ripped it up in the first period, finding the back of the net three times. All three came in the set offence as the Shamrocks found ways to create more time and space for their shooters than they had so far in the series. Conway connected twice from the high slot and once from the shooter spot. Karsen Leung buried Victoria’s sixth goal of the period in transition as the Shamrocks raced down the floor while a delayed penalty was waiting to be called. The only response for the Chiefs in the first period was Kasey Beirnes‘ first goal of the series. Evan Kirk was pulled from the Six Nations net after giving up Victoria’s fifth goal of the game and was replaced by Brandon Miller.
“That’s a heck of a team over there, Six Nations, so we know we have to come out firing and the boys did a good job tonight, we got a good jump,” said Shamrocks captain Scott Ranger. “And it was a good thing we did cause they battled back and that’s what this series is going to be, it’s going to be a fight to the end.”
The second period opened with more promise for the Chiefs when Stephen Keogh connected from the outside in the first minute and the Six Nations defence was able to keep Miller’s lines of sight more open, limiting the Shamrocks’ scoring chances.
Victoria’s defence continued to be strong, though, and the Chiefs had trouble penetrating for more scoring opportunities. When they did get inside and receive the ball, they were generally met with sliding defensive help quickly, and Matt Vinc was equal to the task when tested with shots.
The Shamrocks restored their lead with another late-period transition marker. Scott Carnegie and Karsen Leung pushed the ball up the floor but were met with Chiefs defenders rushing in off the bench. Leung wisely looked to Jeff Shattler coming off the bench to be a trailer and Shattler bounced a shot up just under the cross-bar to make it 7-2.
Victoria got an early third period goal to extend their lead to 6 when Scott Ranger connected on an outside shot for his first goal of the series. The Chiefs responded quickly, though, getting the next three goals in a three-minute span to pull back within reach at 8-5. The first of them came from Cody Jamieson on the power play after Rory Smith drew a penalty on Derek Lowe, who was responding to Smith’s belligerence since he came out of the box after coincidental slashing penalties with Tory Gardner at the end of the second period.
Roger Vyse then scored the goal of the game. He took a pass as he was driving to the net and was spun around by a high stick but still managed to get off a shot that found its way behind Vinc. Keogh’s second of the night finished off the run and all scoring for most of the rest of the period. Six Nations did manage to get one more back when Beirnes connected with Miller pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute. Victoria held strong, though, and finished it off to take the 2-1 lead in the series.
“We’ve got a long way to go yet,” Ranger said. “It’s just two wins, there’s two more to go. They’re not going to get any easier, Six Nations is definitely not going to go away. They’re a heck of a team. They’re mean, they’re hard to play against and it’s going to be a heck of a battle.”
Victoria coach Bob Heyes echoed Ranger’s sentiment, saying that they’re expecting a long series and have to make sure they keep the focus on what has gotten them to where they are. “We’ve got some huge stars on offence but it all starts from the back end. These guys make us better because there’s so much skill out there on Six Nations, they make us accountable. Every time they’ve got the ball Jammer and Doyle and some of those other guys, they’re a threat every time they’ve got the ball.”
The award for player of the game for Victoria went to Jeff Shattler, who scored twice and added 4 assists. Player of the game for Six Nations was Jesse Gamble. The teams are right back at it Tuesday night for Game 4.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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