This is easily one of the weirdest and most excellent stories of the Summer…
Photo Credit: Gary Woodburn
Colin Doyle had a goal and an assist for Six Nations through two periods of Game 5, but with 11 minutes left in the game, both Six Nations goalies had been kicked out for illegal equipment, and Doyle stepped in, donned pads for the rest of game, and made six saves on nine shots for the win… oh, and he also added another assist to his point total for the night when he threw a long outlet pass that quickly turned into a goal for the Chiefs. A goal, two assists, and six saves… not a bad scoreline! Doyle was rewarded with player of the game, and the Chiefs held on to win the game 11-7, and take a 3-2 series lead.
So how did this weirdness come to pass?
After winning Game 4 in dominant fashion, Six Nations came out hot again in Game 5, going up 7-4 through two periods of play. Brandon Miller has been playing lights out lacrosse in net, and Victoria requested a pad inspection. Miller was out for a small pad infraction. Unfortunately, a quarter of an inch or 4 inches… it doesn’t really matter. Illegal equipment is illegal equipment. Evan Kirk entered the game for SN, made 8 saves while allowing zero goals, Victoria gave up two more goals to make it 9-4, and then they called an equipment check on Kirk. Kirk’s pads were illegal too, so he was out.
Six Nations had ten minutes to find a third player (one of their runners) and get him dressed as a keeper. That player was Colin Doyle, an offensive star for Six Nations. According to other reports, his goalie experience is limited to playing against old guys once in a while. Victoria pumped in three goal on Doyle to cut the lead to 9-7, but Stephen Keough gave Six Nations some breathing room when he tacked on two goals in the last six minutes.
The game was exciting, and the extra goalie padding drama was really interesting to observe. And it’s important to note, this isn’t the first time a Mann Cup team has run into this problem. Victoria actually had both of its goalies ejected in one of the WLA finals games against Burnaby.
Afterwards, there were clearly some disagreements on the sporting nature of the equipment checks, as players took to Twitter or made comments to reporters. At the end of the day though, rules are rules and they are there for a reason. A field lacrosse pocket that is a fraction of an inch too deep is still too deep. A box stick that is too narrow is still too narrow. Leg pads that are too wide, are too wide. There is no way around that, even if new rules are in place. When you push the limits of legal, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. That’s life.
I’m hoping that this padding issue is a non-issue in Game 6, and that both teams make sure they have keepers with legal pads. If “half an inch” isn’t such a huge deal, make sure your pads are half an inch smaller, right? Beyond the issue off buying or finding new pads, this makes sense to me, and I hope we don’t see it again.
Six Nations was led offensively by Cody Jamieson, who was credited with three goals and six assists, although some people are saying he should have seven assists. Nine points? Ten points? It’s a lot of points. Jammer is looking like a heavy favorite to take home MVP laurels should Six Nations win. Stephen Keough has also been deadly on offense for Six Nations, and his play all over the floor has been impressive to say the least. His hat trick last night was much needed, but his ride, LB play and all around toughness gave SN a definite edge.
Victoria’s offensive production was very balanced, with Jeff Shattler leading the way with two goals and three assists, but their big guns really struggled when shooting. Duch, Ranger, Leung, Conway, and Jones combined for 28 of Victoria’s 42 shots, and only got 4 goals out of it. Even Shattler, who scored two goals, needed ten shots to do so. Six Nations was good in net early, but Victoria needs to do a better job of moving the ball from side to side before shooting. Miller, Kirk, and even Doyle, were all good when they were able to get set.
The teams get the day off today, and return to action for Game 6 on Friday night at 7pm (Pacific Time). Six Nations can claim their first Mann Cup since 1996 with a win, as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Victoria needs to win the next two games, having lost the last two, in order to claim the trophy.