I received a wonderful compliment late Tuesday night from Kevin Light, the former Olympic and World Championship men’s eights rowing champion, who is the team photographer for the Victoria Shamrocks.
“I read the story you tweeted last night (Monday), I really enjoyed it,” he said, referring to my blog. “You guys shouldn’t be giving that away free on your website.
“I enjoy reading people’s opinions,” he continued, “as opposed to this guy scored at this time or this happened at that time.”
I explained, or at least attempted to disclose, that my role is one of a reporter and not a columnist, but that a blog such as this one, allows me an option or a platform to vent or opine.
“Thanks, “ I said, “please keep reading.” (I’ll save the free part of his comment for another day).
If it’s opinion you want, though, it’s judgment and point of view you’ll get.
In a nutshell, Tuesday’s 8-3 Shamrocks loss to the Six Nations Chiefs was a major disappointment in so many ways for the local side, which is attempting to win its ninth Mann Cup – Canada’s Senior A lacrosse championship.
Up 2-1 in the series, the Shamrocks were in a position I referred to the other day, one where they needed to step on their opponents’ throats and provide no breathing room.
Up 3-1 in a series would have surely guaranteed a Mann Cup win for the Shamrocks as the Chiefs would have had to win the three remaining games – a tough task, no matter how good your are.
Instead, the Shamrocks were off in Tuesday’s 8-3 flop – way off.
Unwilling to pay the price, as head coach Bob Heyes clarified afterward (his comments were in today's Times Colonist).
The look in Heyes’ eyes told the media gathered around him that he was as disappointed in the effort as the fans were in the end result and his team requires a great improvement in commitment in tonight’s Game 5 at Bear Mountain Arena.
The likes of Rhys Duch, Scott Ranger, Cory Conway and Mitch Jones – who were all so good in Monday’s win, following the leadership of Jeff Shattler – weren’t as involved or committed on Tuesday, and once Shatter was shut down off the left side, no one else picked up the slack offensively in Game 4.
The level of compete – which has become a cliché in sports - wasn’t where it needed to be and momentum has now swung in the Chiefs’ favour.
Game 5 now becomes a pivotal matchup and it’s very likely the victor of tonight’s game will eventually hoist the Mann Cup as neither team has managed to win two straight.
Six Nations coach Rich Kilgour inserted some fresh legs into his roster on Tuesday in Tom Montour and brought Billy Dee Smith back in the lineup and the moves paid off. He also went to goaltender Brandon Miller, who relieved starter Evan Kirk late in the first period of Monday's loss in which the Chiefs trailed 5-1.
It was definitely Miller time, as sports enthusiasts call it, for the victors – in this case Brandon Miller’s time as he stopped 47 of 50 shots..
“He was great,” Kilgour said of his netminder. “I threw him into Monday’s game, he gave up one goal on his first shot, which was a breakaway, and then he only gave up two the rest of the way over more than two periods. He came back and had a great game (Tuesday).”
The Shamrocks are going to have to find a way to break Miller.
They allowed the Chiefs to get out of a stranglehold and will have to wrestle momentum back tonight.
* * * * *
Much has been made of the off-floor happenings during the Mann Cup and, in my humble opinion, I believe a few members of the local media have torqued the situation, over-blowing various aspects of this great championship.
I stated my opinion in an earlier blog regarding fans, but I fully back Andy Watson – the former U of Victoria sports information guru – in the blog he wrote for Yahoo, which can be found right here: http://tinyurl.com/qanutw2 and his tweet after Game 4 that stated: “Hope focus for #MannCup media can now stay on floor @cfax10170 @CTV_VanIsland owe it to @SN_Chiefs and @WLAShamrocks.”
Well said, and I’m liking that opinion.
Let’s focus on the game, its traditions and an eventual Canadian champion.