Kearnan completes hat trick in overtime as Brooklin edges Excelsiors

By Sam Laskaris

Members of the Brooklin Lacrosse Club had their share of challenges finding the back of the net on Wednesday.

But the Brooklin squad did manage to score key goals when it needed them most. As a result, the host Brooklin side was able to register a 7-6 overtime victory against the Brampton Excelsiors, in a Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) contest staged at the Iroquois Park Sports Complex in Whitby.

With the victory Brooklin evened its record at 2-2. The Excelsiors’ mark dropped to 1-4. Brooklin veteran Connor Kearnan, who was appearing in his first MSL match this season, was the OT hero, scoring at the 3:29 mark of the extra session.

For Kearnan it was his third goal of the game. He was also credited with a pair of assists, resulting in a five-point performance. Kearnan’s younger brother Brady, who was also toiling in his first match with Brooklin this season, scored once and chipped in with two assists. Brooklin also welcomed Corson Kealey back into the lineup for the first time this year. He responded by scoring the game’s opening goal.

- photo by Sam Hossack

The match was deadlocked at 3-3 after the opening 20 minutes. Brooklin had an offensive funk in the middle stanza as the Excelsiors scored the only three goals of the period to take a 6-3 advantage into the second intermission. “We had three guys on the offence that hadn’t stepped on the floor this year yet for us,” said Brooklin coach Gavin Prout, explaining why his side scored just seven times on Wednesday.

“From an offensive standpoint it’s always tough to jump into a game and in the lineup and have some production.” Prout was pleased though his charges eventually ended up with the W. “It’s a process,” he said. “These guys have to learn how to play with each other and I thought throughout the game it progressed. The second period I thought we regressed. But then we refocused in the third period and in the overtime and got the win. That’s a positive out of this one.”

Members of the Brooklin squad managed to send the game into OT by keeping the Excelsiors off the scoreboard in the third period and scoring three times themselves. Zac Carrigan forced a sudden-victory OT by scoring with just 46 seconds remaining in the third period and with Brooklin netminder Nick Damude on the bench, pulled in favour of an extra attacker.

Parker Pipher set up Connor Kearnan for his OT goal. For Pipher, it was his fourth assist on the night. Prout explained how the game winner transpired.

“We talked about attacking with speed the whole game, attacking on the inside and outside shoulders of defenders,” he said. “We called it up on the bench. (Connor) wanted his number called and we thought a little rattle cut would work and it actually did. Typically, what we did is coming off the bench we’d run into the corner and instead of running into the corner he got into second gear and ran down the middle. It was a great feed and so at the end of the day it worked.”

Meanwhile, Devin Pipher said he was cheerful to see Connor Kearnan rejoin the Brooklin roster. “He’s definitely a special player and it’s great to have him out there,” he said. “He does the small things so well that you don’t really notice until you look back and you see how many guys he was able to get open or just the offence that he’s able to create with the ball in his stick and without is pretty nice to see.”

Brooklin outshot the Excelsiors 46-42 in the match. But long stretches without any goals was no doubt frustrating.

“It was definitely a game where we just had to be patient and trust our offence and let the ball do the work,” Devin Pipher said. “We had a bunch of guys playing their first game tonight so you’ve just got to let the ball do the work and swing it and find open lanes and hope for the best.”

Liam Osborne also had a goal for Brooklin on Wednesday. Brooklin is now off until next Tuesday, June 20, when it hits the road for a game against the Six Nations Chiefs.

Brooklin’s next home outing is next Wednesday, June 21 against the Cobourg Kodiaks. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.