This series was never going to end without a fight. No Mann Cup does.
With the added element of desperation, the Six Nations Chiefs won 8-3 over the Victoria Shamrocks and evened the best-of-seven series 2-2 at Bear Mountain Arena on Tuesday.
It came 24 hours after the Shamrocks won 10-8 in Game 3, a game in which the Rocks led 6-1 after the first period.
“We were focused (for Game 4) after they crushed us (in Game 3),” said Cody Jamieson of the Chiefs. “We had to take a step back and get back to what we were doing before we came out here, have to come back with the same intensity.”
Jamieson led the Chiefs’ attack once again, racking up a hat trick in the first 24 minutes of the game.
Rhys Duch and Jeff Shattler scored in the first period for the Shamrocks.
But that was it for the Shamrocks’ all-world attack, which couldn’t solve Chiefs goalie Brandon Miller, who stopped 47 of 50 shots.
“(Monday) we came out and played desperate in the third period and we won that third period,” said Chiefs coach Rich Kilgour. “I stressed that’s the way we’ve got to approach the first period (Tuesday). We’ve only got three games left at most this year, you’ve got to leave it on the floor.”
There was life in the Shamrocks to start the third period. At least until Steven Keogh scored two power-play goals during Tyler Hass major penalty for running over Miller on a breakaway.
“I think that might have been the hardest I was ever hit… I thought I was cut… there’s no lingering effects,” Miller said.
“We were complacent tonight, they were down and we got outworked,” said Shamrocks transition man Karsen Leung. “They had more work ethic, they didn’t want to go down 3-1 (in the series).”
It was Miller’s first win and first start in the 2013 playoffs as Evan Kirk started all of the Chiefs’ eight-straight playoff wins that earned them Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse championship.
“Brandon probably earned another start (Wednesday), we’ll discuss it and go from there,” Kilgour said. “I believe in riding the hot guy and he seems to be on a little bit of a roll.”
Allowing just five goals in five periods is pretty good. But also unrealistic in lacrosse.
But the real criticism was how many of the 50 shots Miller faced were easy.
Defender Jon Harnett scored the Shamrocks’ third goal, shorthanded, when he scooped the ball off the ground at full speed and outraced a Chiefs’ defender before putting it through Miller’s legs.
“Our offence isn’t wanting to get through the middle, not wanting to take that hit,” Shamrocks coach Bob Heyes said. “This is the Mann Cup and those guys, who are some of the best players in the world, have to get to the net and sacrifice to do those little things that maybe they’ve never done before.”
Defender Dan McRae said the Rocks were expecting to weather up to 10 minutes of desperate attack from the Chiefs and thought they were out of it when the second period started.
“We feel our transition game is going to step up, we feel like we have the younger legs and our back end is going to come over the top of their soft press, we’ll keep chipping away,” McRae said.
“We knew they were a great team coming out here, and we know what we’ve been through, we’ve been through the ringer here, an up-and-down series with Langley.”
Game 5 goes 7 p.m. on Wednesday night and Games 6 and 7 go Friday and Saturday at Bear Mountain Arena.