The Six Nations Chiefs that dominated Major Series Lacrosse throughout the regular season and playoffs finally showed up at the Mann Cup championships, although there was one significant difference. Brandon Miller, who came on in relief of Evan Kirk in Game 3, got the start and was brilliant in Game 4, turning aside 47 of the 50 shots he faced to lead the Chiefs to an 8-3 win over the Victoria Shamrocks, tying the series 2-2.
Cody Jamieson led the Chiefs with a hat trick, Stephen Keogh added 2 goals and an assist and Colin Doyle had a goal and 3 assists. The 4 points give Doyle 11 for the series and 113 in his Mann Cup career, tying him for seventh in all-time Mann Cup scoring with Josh Sanderson. Rhys Duch and Jeff Shattler each had a goal and as assist for Victoria.
The Shamrocks got on the board first when Duch buried an outside shot six minutes into the game. Jamieson responded with a pair, both coming on shots off drives down the slot that he bounced past Matt Vinc. Victoria tied the game up late in the period when Shattler converted a cross-floor pass into a long quick-stick goal, so it was 2-2 heading into the first intermission.
Jamieson kept it rolling in the second period. With the Chiefs having just killed off a holding penalty, Jamieson rolled across the high slot and ripped a shot just inside the near post. When Six Nations got their own chance on the power play a couple of minutes later, they took advantage quickly. Doyle ripped a shot from the top of the formation into about the same spot where Jamieson’s goal had gone. Colin Boucher broke out with a loose ball, ran past some Shamrocks defenders, cut to the net and potted a goal after a hard fake to round out second period scoring, leaving the Chiefs ahead 5-2 heading to the third.
Tyler Hass took a 5 minute major and game misconduct for high sticking Miller 1:37 into the third period when he ran into the Chiefs goalie after being thwarted on a transition chance. Victoria faired well early in the penalty kill. A high-slot shot by Six Nations bounced off the back boards and past everyone. Jon Harnett outraced Jamieson to get the ball and protected it from him to fire an underhand shot past Miller for a shorthanded goal. But Keogh responded for the Chiefs, scoring twice from the same spot on top of the crease just over a minute apart to make the score 7-3.
Miller said he is seeing the ball well and feeling comfortable in his net. “Sometimes a goalie gets into that kind of streak and it’s definitely happening right now,” he said. “I felt good coming out here, too. Every time in practice I’ve been working on my game and just hoping to maybe get the call. Everyone’s here for a reason. It’s not a vacation. It’s just nice to get in there and contribute a little bit.”
He gave a lot of credit to his defence, which the coaches adjusted for this game. “It was a totally different defence. We changed it up. We had to. We were giving them too much of the middle and tonight we packed it in and it definitely paid off.”
Miller also said he was shaken up momentarily when Hass ran into him but was glad to realize he was okay. “I’ve never been hit that hard before. He caught me dead on the ringer,” Miller said. “It almost felt like a warm sensation, I wasn’t sure if I was cut. But once I realized I was okay, there were no lingering effects at all.”
Victoria coach Bob Heyes called out his offensive players after the game, saying there was a simple reason they lost. “Offence not wanting to go to the middle, not wanting to take that hit,” Heyes said. “Those guys, who are some of the best players in the world, have to get to the net. They have to sacrifice, they have to do those little things. Three goals is unacceptable, and really Jon Harnett got one goal in transition. Those guys are our best players and they simply have to pick their game up, plain and simple.”
Game 5 goes Wednesday night at 7pm PT/10pm ET from Bear Mountain Arena.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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