SIX NATIONS – It has not been an easy season for the Six Nations Pro-Fit Chiefs.
The Oakville Rock forced a Game 7, which the Chiefs won with a huge third period to advance to the Major Series Lacrosse semi-finals against the Peterborough Lakers.
To make it even more difficult on themselves, the Chiefs lost the first three games of a best-of-seven playoff, 10-7 in Game 1, 9-7 Thursday night, and 11-8 in Game 3, Sunday.
With no margin of error, the Pro-Fit Chiefs must win the next four straight games if they are to complete the task of defending the Mann Cup. That is a hard target against any team, but against the Lakers, it will be near impossible.
That challenge started Tuesday August 29 at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) in a game that missed our deadline. If the Chiefs start winning, Game 4 will be Thursday Aug. 31 in Peterborough, Game 5, Sunday, Sept 3 at the ILA, and Game 7 in Peterborough, Sept. 4.
The Six Nations Pro-Fit Chiefs went seven games against the Oakville Rock. In the end, the Chiefs prevailed with a huge third period to eliminate the Rock 11-7.
Nick Rose and Dillon Ward got the starts in goal after an amazing goaltenders clinic they both put on in Game 6.
Dan Coates put the first mark on the game sheet at 6:46 when he was called for holding. The second mark was Wesley Berg’s powerplay goal scored at 6:46.
Jeremy Noble potted back-to-back goals at 11:43 and at 13:31 to suddenly hold a 3-0 lead.
Craig Point got the Chiefs going with a powerplay goal from Dan Dawson and Ryan Benesch with 4:29 remaining in the first period. Pat Corbett brought the Chiefs back to within one, scoring from Vaughn Harris and Leo Stouros with three minutes left.
It was an end-to-end first period battle with Ward facing 15 shots while Rose dealt with 12.
Connor Fields and Dhane Smith traded goals seconds apart and it was 4-3. Berg made it 5-3 and Kyle Jackson answered for Six Nations to keep the score close at 5-4 halfway through the game.
Vaugh Harris, who has had a knack at scoring timely goals, tied the game at 5-5 at 16:57 from Dan Dawson and Ryan Benesch.
A too-many-men bench penalty gave Oakville a late period opportunity, but the Rock was kept at bay. There was a late flurry of Six Nations shots as the period ended but Rose kept the ball out.
The entire season came down to 20 minutes for one of these teams. The Chiefs knew it and there is enough talent and team pride to find what was needed to win. Craig Point, Vaughn Harris, Dan Dawson, and Ryan Benesch left the Rock in the dust with a 9-5 lead.
Knowing they had their backs pressed firmly to the wall, began extra attacker chances which paid dividends with two extra man goals, but they also gave up two with goals against scored by Kyle Jackson and Harris.
Game 1 against the Lakers was played Tuesday, Aug. 22 at the ILA, and although the Chiefs started well, a poor second period defensively cost them a game they should have won.
The Chiefs opened a 4-0 first period gash in the side of the Lakers with first period goals by Dan Dawson, Jordan Durston, Ryan Benesch, and Randy Staats. The Lakers came alive late in the period when Mark Steenhaus put the first mark on the scoreboard for Peterborough to end the first period with the Chiefs up 4-1.
Between periods, the Lakers got better but the Chiefs didn’t. Adam Jones, Holden Cattoni and Shawn Evans made it a new game. Six Nations’ Kyle Jackson and Dan Dawson, with his second of the night, put the Chiefs back in the lead, but not for long. Jane and Kyle Buchanan evened the score again.
Ryan Benesch put the Chiefs up by one with a powerplay goal but Curtis Dickson and Thomas Hoggarth closed out the period with the Lakers up 8-7.
Adam Jones accounted for both Peterborough third period goals while Evan Kirk kept the door closed on Six Nations shooters to power the Lakers’ 10-7 win.
The series moved to Peterborough for the second game, Thursday, Aug. 24.
Once again, the Chiefs kept it close for two periods before running completely out of gas in the third. It was 3-2 at the first intermission with the Chiefs leading, and 7-5 with 20 minutes left.
Harris and Randy Staats put the Chiefs up 6-3, but Cattoni took advantage of a Paul Dawson holding penalty. Kyle Jackson scored from Harris and Dan Dawson but the Lakers responded to bring the teams 6-5. Dan Dawson ended the period with the Chiefs still holding a 7-5 lead.
That was all the Chiefs had left as the Lakers cruised to a 9-7 win with a four goal third period while Matt Vinc stonewalled the Chiefs in the final 20 minutes.
On to Sunday’s Game 3 in Peterborough and the pattern was the same. The Chiefs were winning 6-5 after a 2-2 first period. Peterborough unleashed the first five goals of the final frame. Dan Dawson and Kyle Jackson saved some face for the Chiefs but Adam Jones put the game to rest at the 18-minute mark for the 11-8 final.