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Kings face formidable challenge as playoffs commence

July 6, 2014

Kingston Kings will open their 2014 Ontario Junior C Lacrosse League playoffs tonight at Centre 70.

Game time is 8 o’clock.

Their opponent is a formidable one. The Peterborough Lakers finished first during the regular season in the Far East Division with a 14-2 record, ending the campaign with a nine-game winning streak, a stretch that included four victories over the Kings.

Peterborough won those games, all played in the final month of the season against a Kingston lineup that was depleted by injuries, high school graduations and work commitments, by a combined score of 70-21.

Indeed, the injury bug bit the Kings so hard this year that only three of them — captain Logan Rose, Nick Silva and rookie Eric Brick — played all 16 games. That was no small factor in the team finishing 1-14-1, ending the year with 13 straight defeats.

The Lakers’ 222 goals (13.9 per game) was second among the 17 junior C teams in Ontario only to Clarington (227 goals) and their goals-against average (6.81) was second only to Cornwall (5.81).

The Lakers were led by Cole McWilliams, who shattered the league scoring record and finished the season with 103 points, meaning he was involved in 46.4 per cent of his team’s goals; 51.2 per cent of the goals the Lakers scored in the 14 games he played.

McWilliams, who played a handful of games with the Lakers in 2011 and 2012, had 20 goals and 41 points last year — he had 12 of those points in two games against Kingston — and he broke out in the playoffs with seven goals and 20 points in six games.

This year he had 30 goals and 73 assists — more assists than all but four other players in the league had points — to surpass the old single-season scoring record, held by former Lakers teammate Brandon Johnson, by 27 points. Johnson, who won three scoring titles in four years, 2010-13, had his best year, 76 points, in 2011.

McWilliams collected 30 points in three games against Kingston this year, games in which the Lakers averaged 20 goals per game. In the only game the man involved in roughly half of his team’s goals didn’t play against the Kings, it’s perhaps logical that Peterborough scored just 10 goals.

Dealing with the powerful Lakers is an imposing challenge for the Kings, who had the worst defence in the league, 15.31 goals against per game, almost a goal per game worse than the next-most porous defence.

Though he only played one game against Peterborough — due to a late-season shoulder injury — Zach Masterson was involved in almost 20 per cent of Kingston’s goals against the Lakers this year: He had three goals and an assist in a 17-4 loss in Kingston June 26.

Held to just 10 games in an injury-plagued season, Masterson scored 21 goals and had 50 points. His 5.0 points-per-game average was fifth in the entire league, behind McWilliams (7.4), Aaron Woods of Clarington (5.8) and Mike Nicolucci of Halton Hills (5.3) and former teammate Josh Smith of Innisfil (5.1).

Masterson was involved in 40.7 per cent of his team’s goals, and a startling 56.2 per cent — 50 of 89 — of the goals Kingston scored in the games he played, two of which he left early due to injury.

Certain other Kings had degrees of success against Peterborough. Logan Rose had almost a third of his points (eight of 26) against the Lakers. Mid-season addition Bryce Drew, who closed with nine goals and 22 points in nine games, had almost a third of his points (2-5-7) in just two games against Peterborough. Jonah Lewis, who averaged a point per game this year, did twice as well, a goal and an assist, in each of his three games against Peterborough.

In 14 regular-season games in the modern (post-2009) era Kingston has never beaten Peterborough. The only time the teams have met in the playoffs, in the Cavaliers’ first season, 2009, the Lakers won an opening-round series in three straight games.

Game 2 in the best-of-three division semifinal will be played Monday night at the Kinsmen Civic Centre in Peterborough. Game time is 8 o’clock.

The Cornwall Celtics opened the other Far East semifinal Saturday night at home with a 17-6 win over the Gloucester Griffins. The second game of that series will be played Sunday afternoon in Ottawa.

 

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