'Rocks Win Mann Opener 8-6!

Facing adversity for the first time in the playoffs, the Victoria Shamrocks battled back to out-score the Peterborough Lakers 4-1 in the pivotal third period to take Game 1 of the Mann Cup final 8-6 Friday night at The Q Centre.

The result sent the 2,873 fans home happy in a battle that lived up to the billing.

“We responded in the third period,” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes. “Dan Dawson — and this is why we brought him in here — stood up in the dressing room and said let’s just settle in and the game will take care of itself, and it did.

“Big saves, transition — all of our strengths in the game came up. It was good. There are reasons why we put this team together. Tonight it showed. The game was there for the taking in the third period. That 20 minutes was outstanding.”

Starting with goalie Aaron Bold, the Shamrocks’ playoff MVP who was named player of the game for Victoria. Former Shamrocks netminder Matt Vinc was Peteborough’s player of the game.

“We want to pride ourselves in our character showing when we’re faced with adversity,” said Dawson. “Everyone is a good teammate and everyone is a good player when you’re up, right? What happens when the chips are down? Everyone stood up tonight.

“We have so many leaders in our dressing room and we are so blessed that we rode Boldy that game,” added Dawson. “That was a goaltending duel out there and we were lucky to be up top.”

Luck had plenty to do with it, too, as the Shamrocks nailed seven posts and a crossbar, two from Dawson, who finally sniped the game-winner at 12:15 of the third.

“I know if I keep shooting they are going to drop and Vino [Vinc] had a great game. Obviously, the post is his friend, not mine. A post is as good as a save,” said Dawson, who finished with the goal and two assists.

Rhys Duch had a pair of goals, while Corey Small led the way with a goal (which opened the game) and four assists. Cory Conway had an empty-net goal and three helpers to clinch it, while Daryl Veltman, Dan MacRae and Jesse King had the other goals for Victoria, which trailed 2-1 and 5-4 by periods.

Adam Jones had two goals and an assist for the Lakers, while Shawn Evans had a goal and three helpers. Chad Culp, Mark Steenhuis and junior call-up Eric Shewell had the others.

“Their defence was good, but obviously we have to be better and we can be better,” said Evans. “We have to play harder, get to the net a little more and capitalize on our chances.”

Bold made 40 saves for Victoria, while Vinc stopped 37.

The Shamrocks had three one-goal leads go out the window, twice in the second period, as the Lakers continually battled back, as they did against the Six Nations Chiefs. The visitors did benefit from five straight power plays, scoring on two.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven goes Saturday night at 7.