Lakers Take Game One Over ‘Bellies In OT

Story by Gary Mark, photos by Tim Prothero

Grant Forces Overtime, Lakers Win Game One

September 10, 2010
Peterborough, Ontario

It did not take long for the opening game of the 2010 Mann Cup to gain momentum. Friday night started the 101st consecutive series for the most coveted trophy in Canadian Lacrosse. The New Westminster Salmonbellies were in Peterborough, Ontario to take on the Eastern Champion Lakers. And while many “experts” had many different opinions of who would do what, and who would beat who, game one was nothing short of excellent, as Overtime was required.

The Peterborough Lakers, on the strength of a laser shot off the stick of John Grant Jr. tied the contest with only 1:07 left in the third period. In the resulting Overtime, the Lakers scored three goals in less than 5 minutes, and would hang on to take game one by a final score of 13-11.

The Lakers Ryan Sharp opened the scoring only 7 seconds into the game, when Shawn Evans spotted the speedy transistion star busting to the net off of the opening faceoff. Evans threaded a pass to Sharp and he buried a goal past Matt Roik, immediatley bringing the 3393 fans to their feet. But New West would battle back, and hold period leads of 4-3 (after the 1st), and 9-7 (after the 2nd). The Lakers would outscore the Bellies 3-1 in the 3rd period and force Overtime.

As might have been expected, the two teams had a feeling out period to start this Final Summer Classic. Scott Evans and Rory Smith immediately made their acquaintances, and for much of the 1st period would jockey for position with each other. Half way through the second period, that jostling ultimatley cost them both the rest of their games, as Smith received a 5 minute fighting major and a game ejection, while Evans was announced as receiving a Match penalty for High Sticking (there are conflicting reports that this might not have been the case), and a game expulsion as well. And many players on both sides of the floor took liberties with the stick that raised the ire of their opponents. It was very evident that early on, this was going to be physical. But have we not come to expect this in a Mann Cup? Outside of the full scale brawl that took place in 2009, many a series has started with both teams looking to send a message early on that they are there to win.

I was very impressed with the Bellies speed and size. And while we questioned aloud on the Webcast we are doing, just how long it would take the New West team to get their legs (after being off almost 3 weeks prior to tonight), that question was answered very quickly. The New West team hit the floor running on all cylinders and for the first 40 minutes of tonight’s game, appeared to have a step on the Lakers.

But as they did in their Eastern Final, Peterborough had spurts of play where they would score in bunches, and the late stages of the 3rd period in this game was no different. What remains to be seen now is how this first game will affect any adjustments for either side. Both teams made a few in game adjustments. New West appeared early on to be able to solve Lakers goalie Mike Thompson with the long outside shot. But as the game wore on, the Laker defence got out on the hands of the Bellies shooters allowing Thompson to see less quality shots at his net. New West will certainly need to get back to what worked early on in the game for them in game one.

In my opinion, the Bellies seemed to almost go into a bit of a defensive mode a little to early on in the third period. There was no urgency with the ball in the Lakers end as the Bellies were up by two at the time. And that allowed Peterborough to get the crowd into the game late and rally their team for the come from behind win.

Peterborough, I believe has learned from this game, that this is not a team (New West) that they will be able to play that way against and be successful over the long haul of this series. Many have said that this is the best team to come out of B.C. for a while, and I see where those comments are coming from. I think the longer this series goes, the more efective the Bellies will be. And being the notably younger team, that could be the difference.

To see the Pointstreak sheet for this game, go Here

Other Game Notes:
– it was a great pleasure to interview the Bellies GM Dan Richardson in our first intermission tongiht, and an honour to chat with the legendary Bobby Allen in our second intermission. Both gents had some great insights into tonights game.
– Cory Vitarelli and Josh Wasson both played well tonight. The Lakers will need these young guns to continue their fine play.
– Cliff Smith and Martin Cummings on the New West side also played well. Tyler Crompton was all hustle throughout the night.
– We will be web casting again tomorrow night with the game starting at 7:45 EST, and we will be on air at 7:15 EST

To see a video of our opening and a bit of game action check out below:

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