Usually when you chase the opposing team’s top goaltender, momentum is clearly in your favour. But unfortunately for the Langley Thunder, the opposite proved true.
Ahead two games to none in the best-of-seven Mann Cup senior A men’s amateur lacrosse championships against the host Peterborough Lakers, Langley scored on three of their first seven shots in game three. That prompted the Lakers to replace Tyler Carlson with Mike Thompson, and Thompson was phenomenal the rest of the way, stopping 122 of the 150 shots he faced — an .813 save percentage — as Peterborough won the next four games to capture the Cup.
By comparison, Carlson stopped 50 of the 81 shots he saw, a save percentage of just .617.
The series ended on Saturday with a 14-8 victory at Peterborough’s Memorial Centre.
“If someone told me that we could chase their starting goalie, I would take my chances,” said Thunder coach Rod Jensen, on the phone from Peterborough on Monday morning, prior to the team flying back to Langley.
“Thompson was a real influence in the series. He shut us down.”
“Usually when you flush the starting goalie after two games, you are going to be in good shape,” Jensen said.
“(But) they picked it up. He carried them and they elevated their game.”
For his efforts, Thompson — who wasn’t even dressed in games one or two — earned the Mike Kelly Award as series MVP.
The Lakers also got huge contributions from John Grant Jr. and Shawn Evans.
Grant Jr. — who went to the hospital in game two with a knee injury but was back for game three — scored four goals in game six and finished the series with 16 goals and 14 assists.
Evans had seven goals and 24 assists in the six games.
This was Peterborough’s fifth Mann Cup in the past nine years and Major Series Lacrosse teams have won eight of the past nine Cups.
Langley won games one and two 13-12 and 15-14 in overtime. Peterborough got back into the series with a 14-10 win in game three and 9-8 in game four.
In game five, the Thunder raced out to a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes, but were outscored 7-0 in the second period and fell 9-5.
Game six saw Langley lead 5-3 after the opening period only to be done in by another disastrous second period, this time six unanswered goals by the Lakers, in the 14-8 final score.
The Thunder made their first-ever Mann Cup appearance last year, losing at the Langley Events Centre in five games to the Brampton Excelsiors.
Jensen said it was a different mood this time around.
“Last year we were kind of a Cinderella team and an underdog, but this year, we were the favourite coming out of the west,” he said.
“We had a great start and confidence and we came out and battled hard. We just couldn’t get over the hump.
“Everybody was laying it on the line and did everything they could, we just came up a little bit short.”
Local Langley product Garrett Billings led the way offensively with 32 points, including 10 in the game two overtime victory.
Athan Iannucci (15 goals, 13 assists) and Lewis Ratcliff (seven goals, 15 assists) also had big series.
Brodie MacDonald was busy in the Thunder goal as Peterborough outshot Langley in every game except for the final one.
MacDonald had nearly as many saves (221) over the six games as the Thunder had shots (231) on the Peterborough goal.
Both Jensen and Peterborough coach Jamie Batley were suspended following game four of the series by the Canadian Lacrosse Association.
The coaches appealed and subsequently were back behind the bench for game six while they await a full discipline review.
The suspensions resulted from drug testing which was conducted following games two and four.
The coaches were suspended as a result of interactions between the respective teams’ personnel and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and CLA personnel about the testing process, according to the CLA website.
— with files from Todd Vandonk/Peterborough This Week