12 goals in three games did not say much for the Excelsiors, however they made up for that with an eruption Sunday night and managed to upset the Northmen and force a fifth game in Orangeville Monday.
A defensive beginning, not as bad as Game One but coming from the first period of Akwesasne/Green Gaels it was a bit dull and predictable. Definate edge for Orangeville as Brampton goalie Danny Walters was the duck in the shooting gallery. He stopped everything except for a Northmen goal on a 4 on 3 power play.
Scott Gillingham began the second with a quick goal. The Northmen offence continued to press but Walters was even better than before. Not just get in the way of the shots type saves, Walters was pulling some really dramatic rabbits out of his hat - shades of Cole Murray in 2001. Opportunistically Brampton bounced ahead 4-1 then 5-1. After the fifth goal, Agar was pulled, replaced by the Jr.B netminder filling in for injured Scott Patterson(sorry no name available). The Excelsiors extended their lead to 8-1, while Walters continued to frustrate Northmen shooters. It was a tough time for the new goalie to have to face the Brampton offence breaking out of its slump, while the Orangeville defence looked very flatfooted. Power play maker late in the period gave the visitors some life. Then Nathan Sanderson buried a beauty to make it 8-3. This was one of the rare times Jeff Summerfield was not on the floor to shadow #18. The Northmen had a power play the final 2 minutes of the session but Walters again barred the door.
Orangeville struck early in the third, however the Excelsiors answered it. At 9-4 Lindsay Sanderson started to pull his goalie every offensive possession for the rest of the game. It really is something to see. Only the Northmen can be down five goals yet have their opponent scared to death. Sanderson had made a statement to begin the period by reinstating Agar between the pipes, then by pulling his goalie he made it clear there would be no quitting. Still it takes the players to respond to such motivation and the Northmen have always been awesome when it comes to never giving up.
Still it wasn't easy. The Horn Heads got back to 9-5, however their charge was running out of gas with 8 minutes remaining. Walters continued to stand tall, though in less spectacular fashion as his role was reduced to blocking shots from in front of his congested goal. Orangeville scored a power play marker with 7 minutes left and this recharged them. With 4 on 4 lacrosse the Northmen scored twice more to make it 9-8 with less than 2 minutes remaining. 3 on 3 lacrosse followed yet a turnover led to a Sean Felstead breakaway and he hit the open net to secure the win.
Great efforts on the night from John McClure on draws, Ryan Campbell playmaking, both Mayerhoffers, Felstead and Summerfield on defence. Nathan Sanderson great for Orangeville and Jamie Kirk was on fire. Darren Halls had a couple of bull rushes down the floor which picked his teammates up when they were lagging during the disasterous second period. Very impressed with Sanderson. I have always considered him a decent player who picks up loads of power play points, however this season he's bloomed into star material.
Coaching wise, I was very surprised to see Agar pulled. It was like Coach Sanderson was looking ahead - four games in four nights - and wanted to rest his goalie. I'm sure he regretted the move as Agar would have stopped at least one of the three goals Brampton scored during his absence.
Afraid I must complain about the officiating as Gary Martin spoiled what was otherwise an interesting game for me to watch. I even shouted at Martin after Orangeville's sixth goal - very uncharacteristic of me. The only other time I ever shouted at a ref was back in 1994 when Bill Fox really put it to Burlington during a game in Peterborough.
The problem with Martin is a simple one. You never know what to expect from him(what compounds this problem is that he gets more assignments than any other official). Gary Martin and Steve Line made it clear they would let the teams play and call very little the final two periods. There really wasn't need to call much as it was a very cleanly played game. Line was true to this as he only called the odd moving pick over the final forty minutes. Martin was, as usual, inconsistent. Out of the blue he hit Brampton with a penalty with 2 minutes left in the second period. This after the entire period had been penaltyless. Same thing in the third. 12 minutes of no calls then suddenly Martin awarded Orangeville with a power play on a marginal off the ball call against Summerfield. That led to a crucial goal which made it 9-6. The next two penalties came with less than 4 minutes left. Coincidental minors which were not very fragrant as I could see. This meant 4 on 4, which translated to 5 against 4 when the Northmen had possession. This was how they got their next two goals to make it 9-8. Then to top that, with 90 seconds left, two more coincidental minors called by Martin. This meant 3 on 3 lacrosse, 4 on 3 with Northmen possession. A tie game and overtime appeared certain but Brampton got lucky and scored. Give Orangeville full credit for taking advantage, however the referees established a pattern to not call anything unless it was a really bad foul, yet Martin conjured up all these penalties and they came at key moments in the game.
He's done it before - Game 4 1994 Major Final Six Nations against Brooklin. Last minute in a tie game he gave Brooklin a penalty on a very slight slash(the worst call I have ever seen in my life!). Chiefs scored. Won the game, won the series, won the Mann Cup.
1998 Jr.A Final Game Five and the phantom goal Martin awarded which he could not have seen going in because it never went in!
These incidnets should have barred Martin from working any huge games in the future, instead he's gotten every plum assignment available and still does. Someone recently said to me that the problem with the OLA is that it's an Old Boys Club. It will never change or try to improve, it will just keep going and going, tolerating the same flaws as usual. I'm afraid the Old Boys assessment is too accurate. If you shoot pool with John Herd...