|Photo by Darryl Smart|
Billy Dee Smith didn’t want to call Sunday’s 8-1 victory over the Peterborough Lakers a comeback.
“We showed up tonight,” said Smith, who was one of the defensive catalysts for the Six Nations Pro-fit Chiefs. “Down 3-0 we didn’t want to be swept.”
With the victory, the Chiefs staved off elimination, with the Lakers still leading the best-of-seven Major Series Lacrosse final 3-1.
“For whatever reason, the last three games we didn’t bring it… mentally, emotionally,” Smith said. “If someone did something good, nobody had their back. No excuses aside, they capitalized on their opportunities more than we did.”
But Sunday at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena was different.
“Tonight we had a goal, and we stuck to our game plan, did what we did all season, and what we’ve always done,” Smith said. “We played some really tight and we swung the ball instead of standing still. Those two or three things make a huge difference and it showed tonight.”
While the defence, led by goalie Dillon Ward di their part, Stephen Keogh got things going offensively midway through the period.
Late in the frame, Cory Vitarelli tied things up, scoring the only goal of the game for the Lakers.
For the next two 40 minutes, the Chiefs took charge.
Cody Jamieson, who was a late game-time decision to play, scored less than a minute into the second period, wearing a knee brace for the first time.
Keogh, Ryan Benesch added to the Chiefs scoring before the Staats brothers, Austin and Randy each netted power-play markers a minute apart.
Austin Staats hustled on a loose ball in the third period to score his second of the game early in the third period, with Benesch rounding out the scoring.
“Give props to Cody. Everybody knows what he’s gone through the last little bit,” Smith said. “For him to put on a brace and go out there really sparked us. He’s not the greatest player in the world for no reason.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I told him, I’ve been here the longest, but he’s the chief. He’s the leader of the team. Guys listen to him. I listen to him. You can’t say enough about the guy. Knowing what he’s gone through the last couple of weeks, and to suit up for a do or die Game 4 is amazing.”
Jamieson said his decision was a no brainer.
“I wanted to play,” Jamieson said. “Every extra day of rest you get, you can take it. I’m sure there are guys over there that are a bit banged up. But when you get a days rest you take it. Our backs are up against the wall and it’s do or die, so now it was time to strap them up.
“I’ve never been braced up before, so it was a work in progress,” he said. “I just wasn’t used to the brace. At the start I was a little tentative on it, but after a while it was ok.”
Jamieson and Smith said, to extend the series, they need the same effort on both end of the floor as there was on Sunday.
“Our backs are still up against the wall,” Jamieson said. “There’s a lot of pride in that dressing room and there are a lot of guys that aren’t ready for the season to be over yet. We want to win. We want to get back here and get back to the Mann Cup. The only way to do that is to win four games out of seven. It’s still there.”
Game 5 is in Peterborough Tuesday, with Game 6, if necessary, back at the ILA Thursday. Both games are at 8 p.m.