Mann Cup: Doyle puts the ball in the net, keeps the ball out of the net as Six Nations Chiefs take 3-2 lead

Colin Doyle had a goal and 2 assists as the Six Nations Chiefs downed the Victoria Shamrocks 11-7 to take a 3-2 lead in the Mann Cup finals. The three points moved him past Josh Sanderson and Bill Wilson into sixth place in all-time Mann Cup scoring. And oh yeah, he played goalie as well. That’s right, Doyle played the final 11:04 in net after both of the Chiefs regular goalies were ejected for illegal equipment. He allowed 3 goals but made enough saves (6 in total) for the Chiefs to hang on and win.

Asked if he’d ever played goal before, Doyle responded “Monday night oldtimers in Kitchener in my hometown. But the pace of the shots was a little bit different. I was a little stressed out in there but the guys, [Stephen] Keogh and the guys really did something special to go get me a couple more and alleviate the load a bit. Having a couple burn by me there made me a little nervous. But I’m so proud of the guys tonight, they really fought hard.”

The Shamrocks scored 3 goals in two and a half minutes, including one on the power play resulting from backup Evan Kirk’s illegal equipment call, to close the gap to 9-7 and it was looking like the unusual gambit of calling for equipment checks on both goalies may pay off for Victoria. But then Keogh stepped up huge for the Chiefs. He drove to the net and got off a shot that hit Victoria goalie Matt Vinc, hit the post, bounced on the concrete near the goal line but went away from the net, then bounced and spun back into the goal before bouncing back outside the line. The ball was clearly over the goal line, though, and stretched the Six Nations lead to three.

Just over a minute later, Doyle looked to be in trouble after he made a save but all the Chiefs near him were covered tightly by Victoria players. Johnny Powless raced back into his own zone and fought off a check to grab a bounce pass from Doyle, who knew he couldn’t really throw accurate passes with the goalie stick. Powless threw the ball to Keogh over by the boards in the offensive zone and Keogh went to work again. He fought his way through a couple of defenders, lowered his shoulder to bull his way towards the net, stepped back and skipped a low shot past Vinc for the goal that broke the camel’s back.

The Chiefs got things started in the first period when Cody Jamieson, who had 3 goals and 6 assists on the night, opened the scoring at 7:05 after a long stretch of dominance by both defences. Craig Point did some hard work to come up with a loose ball after Kedoh Hill’s shot ricocheted off the post. Point passed it to Hill, who sent a low pass to Jamieson coming late off the bench. It was the first time Jamieson had had the ball with time and space and he took advantage, ripping a hard shot over Vinc’s shoulder and under the crossbar.

Both defences were their usual swarming selves through the first half of the first period, forcing the offences to either try to force the ball through the teeth of the D to get inside or settle for perimeter movement and shots.

Jeff Shattler evened things up on the power play with just under six minutes to play. Mitch Jones picked off an outlet pass from Brandon Miller intended for Dan Coates and spun back towards the Chiefs end. He passed to Rhys Duch, who faked a shot on the crease and flipped the ball over to Shattler. He threw a fake, stepped across the crease and reached over to tuck the ball around Miller. Karsen Leung scored immediately off the ensuing faceoff to give the Shamrocks a 2-1 lead.

Hill finally cashed in after several good scoring chances, flinging the ball past Vinc as he was being knocked to the floor across the top of the Victoria crease, to tie the game up. Powless scored in the final minute of the first period to give the Chiefs the lead and momentum going into the second. But defence was the order of the day for the first half of the second period as well. Victoria did have a couple of chances in that time but both were turned aside by Miller. Karsen Leung took a hit and slid across above the crease on his knees, popped up like he was coming out of a baseball slide and got a good shot on net, but was stopped by Miller.

Dan MacCrae took a long breakout pass eight minutes into the period, receiving it right on top of Miller. He fired quickly but missed the net. 30 seconds later, Ben McCullough and Nolan Heavenor came in on a two on one. McCullough got the ball over to Heavenor for a shot but it was stopped by Miller.

Tory Gardner and Cory Conway put home goals for Victoria 37 seconds apart to bring the Shamrocks closer but Jamieson connected for his third of the game to make it 6-4. Then, the Chiefs scored another huge momentum-affecting goal at the end of the period. The Chiefs took a time out and set up the play for the final shot. Jamieson ran across the top of the offensive zone like he had done on his most recent goal, drew defenders to him, and flipped a pass back to Doyle at the top of the dotted line. Doyle fired an overhand shot just inside the post by Vinc’s foot half a second before the buzzer sounded.

Things started to get even more interesting before the third period got underway when the Shamrocks asked for an equipment check on Miller and he was ejected. Jamieson made a great play while the Chiefs were killing the resulting penalty. As he was being knocked down, Jamieson spotted Keogh by the boards and managed to roll the ball over to him. Keogh buried his first of what would be three on the night at 1:17.

Shortly after that penalty ended, Jamieson took a shot that missed the net and rebounded off the back boards. Tom Montour alertly grabbed it and ripped it home to make the lead 9-4. There was no scoring for the next eight minutes, and then Victoria asked for the equipment check on Kirk and the strangeness that was the final 11 minutes of play grabbed the spotlight.

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 stamplax@hotmail.com.

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