Rochester Knighthawks

Vinc Backstops Lakers to Mann Cup Berth

September 1, 2015 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Rochester Knighthawks News Release

Matt Vinc was the difference Monday night as the perennial All-Pro made 40 saves to lead the Peterborough Lakers to a berth in the Mann Cup. Behind his dominating performance, the Lakers knocked off the two-time defending Mann Cup champion Six Nations Chiefs 6-5 in Game 7 of the Major Series Lacrosse Finals.

"He was our best player once again," said Lakers defenseman Mike Kirk. "He stood on his head for the last 30 minutes and made some unbelievable saves to keep us in the game. He made so many timely saves down the stretch."

Vinc stopped 12 shots in the second and made a game-high 15 in the third period, as the Lakers held the Chiefs' offense scoreless for the final 30:16. He made one of his biggest stops with two minutes to play as he denied Six Nations' defenseman Brodie Merrill on a breakaway.

"It was a gutsy team effort to beat the defending back-to-back Mann Cup champs," said Vinc. "We are one step closer to our goal, but have a great team and organization to play in the finals."

With the win, the Lakers avenged their Game 7 loss to the Chiefs last season, and advanced to the Mann Cup Finals for the first time since the 2012 season, which was the last time Peterborough raised the Cup. The Lakers will now fly west to battle the Western Lacrosse Association champion Victoria Shamrocks.

"We can't wait," said Lakers defense Scott Self, who was a member of the 2012 team. "This was such a tough series to win and we're looking forward to the opportunity to compete for the Mann Cup."

Peterborough ended the best-of-seven series by winning the final two games. In Game 7, the Lakers rallied twice from two-goal deficits to edge the host Chiefs at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Peterborough, who scored the game's final three goals, completed its comeback on a goal by Turner Evans at 12:03 of the third period.

"I am so proud of the team. It was a great series," said Lakers general manager Paul Day. "Both teams battled and it was great lacrosse."

Evans (1+2) was one of three Lakers who notched three points in Game 7, joining Mark Steenhuis (2+1) and series MVP Curtis Dickson (0+3). The Chiefs were bolstered by two-goal efforts from Craig Point and Ryan Benesch.

The Chiefs opened the game by jumping out to a 2-0 lead as Point scored on the first shot of the game and Benesch connected for his first of the contest. Peterborough, however, clawed back with a goal from Brad Self and back-to-back tallies from Steenhuis to grab its first lead of the contest at 3-2.

Six Nations took its second lead of the game by scoring three straight goals to start the second as Dhane Smith, Benesch and Point all tallied in the first 10 minutes. Goalie Brandon Miller, who made 35 saves, held the Lakers at bay for over 17 minutes until Tutton scored at 16:53.

In the third, the Lakers tied the game on a marker by Shawn Evans at 2:46 and won it on Turner Evans' driving goal with less than eight minutes to play.

"It was a great team effort right from the get-go," Peterborough coach Mike Hasen told the Peterborough Examiner. "We have a lot of banged up guys and they put everything they had on the floor tonight. The 'D' was good, (Vinc) was great and the offense got enough done."

The Lakers have little time to rest as Game 1 of Mann Cup against the Victor Shamrocks begins Friday, Sept. 4 at the Q Centre in Victoria at 10:00 p.m. EST.

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