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Six Nations Chiefs take 2-0 lead over New West in 2023 Mann Cup series

New Westminster Salmonbellies are down two games in Mann Cup but remain confident they can turn the series around

The Six Nations Chiefs have taken a 2-0 lead in the 2023 Mann Cup series after a nail-biter that kept fans on the edge of their seats for 60 minutes.

The Chiefs defeated the New Westminster Salmonbellies in Game 2 of the national championship before a packed house at Queen’s Park Arena on Saturday night.

The Sept. 9 game saw the addition of some new faces to both teams’ rosters.

Joining Six Nations was Dhane Smith, who recently won the National Lacrosse League championship with the Buffalo Bandits. Like the Chiefs, the Bandits are coached by lacrosse legend John Tavares.

Suiting up for the Bellies were brothers Jeff and Travis Cornwall.

Jeff, who last played for the Salmonbellies in 2016, most recently played Senior B for the Ladner Pioneers, helping the team win back-to-back President’s Cups in 2022 and 2023. The defender had two goals in his first game back in the Bellies’ lineup.

Game 1 of the Mann Cup saw the return of defenseman Mike Messenger, a fan favourite who, according to a press release from the Sr. A Salmonbellies, “is known for his exceptional physicality and intensity on the floor.” He demonstrated that in both Mann Cup games and also put one in the net in Game 2.

The Salmonbellies struck first in Game 2, scoring less than two minutes into the opening period, but the Chiefs answered with two of their own. When the teams headed to the dressing room after one period of play, the Bellies had a 3-2 edge on the scoreboard.

New West again scored first in the second, with the teams seesawing back and forth with goals throughout the period. The teams were tied 7-7 heading into the third period – setting the stage for an intense third period.

Adding to the atmosphere was the thunderous drumming by Six Nations fans each time their team entered the offensive zone. Game 2 also marked the return of the organ music (which reappeared in Game 7 of the Western finals after being MIA for a couple of years), sometimes leading hometown fans to launch into Go Bellies Go chants.

In the third period, Six Nations and New West traded a couple of goals, with the score tied 9-9 at the 10 minutes mark. The Chiefs scored two to take a two-goal lead, but New West responded with two of their own to tie the game at 11-11.

But, with a minute-and-11 seconds left on the clock, Six Nations scored. The Chiefs sealed the deal, scoring an empty net goal with 29 seconds left in the game.

“We showed tonight that we can play with the Chiefs,” said Salmonbellies general manager Ray Porcellato. “So, even though we’re disappointed about the loss in Game 2, we are confident moving into Game 3 that we can get this series turned around.”

Six Nations’ star Lyle Thompson, who had two goals and four assists, was the game’s first star. Bellies captain Mitch Jones, who had a five-point night that included two goals, was the second star and Chiefs’ forward Cody Jamieson was the third star.

The teams get a night off on Sunday, with the best-of-seven series resuming at Queen’s Park Arena on Monday at 7:30 p.m.