Rock Advance To MSL Finals

by Mike Hancock

OAKVILLE, ON- The Oakville Rock picked up their first ever playoff series victory in the 2018 MSL Semi-Final. The Rock beat the Six Nations Chiefs 4 games to 2 in the Best-of-7 series. Finishing second in the league standings, the Rock held home floor advantage, but dropped game 1 at home by a score of 8-5.

They rebounded on the road in game 2 defeating the Chiefs 7-6, but lost again at home 9-7 in game 3. The Rock continued the trend of road team winning in game 4 as they tied the series at 2-2 with a 8-7 win.

Game 5 shifted back to Oakville where the Rock had their most convincing win of the series doubling up on the Chiefs 8-4.

They always say the 4th win is the hardest in a 7-game series, and this one was no exception. The series could be defined as "chippy" and game 6 was no exception. Late in the second period, Chiefs leading scorer Randy Staats tangled with Rock defender Jason Noble who did not oblige to his offer to dance. Staats was handed a fighting major and a game misconduct which cost him an early exit from the game. 

The score was knotted at 6 heading into the third and Six Nations rookie netminder Doug Jamieson and the Rock's Nick Rose locked into a goaltender's duel as they had for much of the series. The two teams traded chances before Six Nations' Frank Brown broke the deadlock with about 5 minutes left in the period. Not to be deterred, the Rock answered right away with Challen Rogers striking in transition to tie the game at 7, which is how it stayed until the end of regulation.

The teams continued to trade chances in the extra-frame, with both teams trying to stay mistake free. Rookie Dan Craig finally broke the deadlock cutting to the middle and shooting around the screen to make it 8-7.

Six Nations pulled Jamieson in lieu of the extra attacker, but the chance was broken up by defender Luc Magnan, who made sure to run the ball down the floor before scoring into the empty net, making the final 9-7. 

Exhales could be heard from the amongst the cheers from the Rock bench as the fans at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena headed for the exits. The Rock had defeated the Chiefs a year after losing a 7-game heartbreaker. Johnny Powless, who came over from the Chiefs in an off-season trade led the Rock in first round scoring with 5G-10A-15PTS.

"It's been a long time coming," said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. "We are a confident group, but there was still that hanging over our heads that we hadn't won a playoff round. I'm very proud of the team for the effort they showed, but we know that this is just one series and our goal is to compete for the Mann Cup. I told them to enjoy it tonight, but that we aren't done and we still have some work ahead of us."

Meanwhile, across the GTA, the Brooklin Redmen forced game 7 with the Peterborough Lakers in the other MSL Semi-Final. That game will be played Thursday, August 16th. The Schedule for the Final Series will be determined depending on who advances.