Bellies win in OT in Mann Game 1

Winning Game 1 will be easy compared to what likely lies ahead for the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the Mann Cup.

The Mann Cup hosts took the opening game of the Canadian senior A lacrosse championships 12-10 in overtime over the visiting Ontario champion Peterborough Lakers on a quick crease finish by Game 1 hero Joel McCready at Queen's Park Arena on Friday.

But if past national championships are any indication, there will be lots happening both on and off the floor and that usually means expect a differently played and officiated Game 2.

It would be no surprise that both respective clubs would have instructed their players to smarten up in the penalty taking department.

Peterborough went a scary five-for-five on the extra-man with clinical efficiency and the Salmonbellies should take notice that their route to victory in this year's Mann has to be when playing Peterborough at even strength.

That said, New West won last night's contest on the strength of their power play, which went six for 10 and took advantage of late Lakers indiscretions, capitalizing on four goals with the man advantage in the 10-minute overtime session.

Somehow, I don't see that scenario playing out again in tonight's match up.

A new set of officials tonight may look to keep the game under closer scrutiny in order that emotions don't get out of hand like they appeared close to doing at the end of Friday's contest.

Then again, they just might allow a little more leniency on the floor, although in this writer's opinion the high sticks took enough liberties last night on all players concerned. Still, an edgier conflict never hurt Canada's summer game at the box office, either. 

Whatever the result, both goalies will likely be sharper after the one game under their belts and both defenses should also be tighter for understanding the others tendencies just a little bit better.

What isn't clear is how both sides will handle the inevitable momentum swings that were so tantilizingly on display in Game 1.

The Salmonbellies got the estimated crowd of nearly 2,600 on their feet early building a 4-1 first-period lead in the Mann Cup opener, including Kevin Crowley's game-opening tally on the first shot on Lakers keeper Matt Vinc at 48 seconds.

The second period was a reversal of the first and showed off not just Peterborough's ability to finish but its lethal economy of opportunities, scoring six markers on 18 shots on goal.

However, what really made this game was the drama of the third period.

Trailing by three goals in the opening minute of the frame, New west delighted the house with three counters in seven minutes, including McCready's first of two goals midway through the stanza that eventually sent the game into OT.

In overtime, the Lakers took one goal leads on two separate occasions but Crowley tied the score at 9-9 with his hat-trick goal on a power play and later 'Bellies player of the game Logan Schuss brought the score to 10-10 with his second of the game on another man-advantage marker.

Crowley finished with three goals and five points, while Schuss led all scorers with a nine-point evening.

Mike Messenger, who was in the middle of much of the action in Game 1 and a tireless worker on the Salmonbellies back end, scored an insurance tally into an empty net in the closing minute.

Junior call up Connor Robinson did not look put of place, momentarily tying the game at 5-5 with his first career Mann Cup marker at 10:21 of the middle period. The three-time B.C. junior A scoring champion also recorded a key second goal of the game in the comeback third period.

Former New Westminster junior Curtis Dickson was Peterborough's player of the game with four goals and as many assists. Shawn Evans was also productive for the Lakers with two goals and seven points.

Game 2 is at Queen's Park Arena tonight (Saturday, Sept. 9) at 7:30 p.m.