PREVIEW: Mann Cup Game 3 -- Shamrocks vs Lakers
The Victoria Shamrocks and Peterborough Lakers will play Game 3 of the Mann Cup tonight.
The best-of-seven national championship series is currently all tied up at one game a piece, after Peterborough earned a come from behind OT victory in Game 2 on Saturday night. The Shamrocks had previously drawn first blood in the series after a 13-6 victory in Game 1 -- however they were unable to seize a 2-0 lead after a much better effort from the Lakers in Game 2.
According to Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes -- whose been behind the bench for the team since 2012 -- the last five minutes of the third period was his team's undoing.
"We learned a lesson Saturday night," said Heyes. "They're the reigning Mann Cup champs and they play a full sixty minute game."
Despite an extremely strong two and a half periods to start the game, Victoria would surrender the lead late and eventually fall in the extra frame.
The Shamrocks entered the 2019 WLA postseason as one of the top face-off teams in the league, however in the first two games of the Mann Cup they've been humbled on draws. Through the first two games of the series -- Peterborough has won 33 of the 47 total face-offs taken -- which according to the coach has played a factor in the Shamrocks being out shot the last two games.
"If we're not getting the ball after a goal then we can't create that momentum which is tough," said the long-time Shamrocks bench boss. "It takes a lot of energy out of our draw teams and our defence, because we have to go out and defend instead of trying to compete."
One of the big catalysts in the Shamrocks being able to weather the Lakers' offensive storm throughout the series' first two games, has been the play of Shamrocks goaltender Pete Dubenski. Dubenski finished the 2019 WLA season with the third best Goals Against Average, and has continued his inspired play into the postseason. The Nanaimo-born goalie has been brilliant in the first two games of the Mann Cup, turning aside 123 of 141 shots while averaging over sixty shots faced per game.
Coach Heyes says this is nothing new as Dubenski has worked extremely hard all season long.
"This guy is a legitimate goaltender." said Heyes. "He relies on his reflexes to make those big saves, and he's a huge energy booster for us."
The Shamrocks and Lakers last met in the Mann Cup finals back in 2015, which saw Victoria win the series in six games to clinch their first national title in a decade. This year however, Peterborough entered the series as back-to-back Mann Cup champions, having won the title in 2017 and 2018. Tonight's Game 3 will get underway at 7:00 p.m. and will be no doubt be another intense affair, as both teams look to take a one game series edge.
The Shamrocks have not lost back-to-back games since May.