The Langley Thunder needed every one of its weapons to edge the host Peterborough Lakers in game two of the Mann Cup.
The Thunder and Lakers went blow-for-blow through four periods of play.
When the smoke finally cleared, the Thunder, led by a sublime performance from master playmaker Garrett Billings, earned a 15-14 overtime win Sunday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
The victory gives the Thunder a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. As of Monday afternoon, Langley was two wins away from its first ever Canadian senior A boxla lacrosse title.
The Thunder had a chance to take a 3-0 series stranglehold with a win over the Lakers last night (Sept. 10). Results were not available when the Langley Advance went to press.
This turn of events is pretty remarkable when you consider the Thunder players and coaches were calling themselves underdogs going into the series.
"I'm surprised," Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said, prior to Monday's game. "It hasn't been easy; we've won two games in an environment that's very tough to win in."
Billings led the Thunder's star-studded offence on Sunday. The runner-up for the National Lacrosse League's 2011/12 MVP had a hat trick and seven assists for the visiting side.
Billings was coming off a pro lacrosse season in which he set the Toronto Rock's single-season scoring record, with 114 points.
He also established an NLL record for assists with 82 set-ups.
This year in the Western Lacrosse Association, Billings was limited to six regular season games, splitting his time between Langley and the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse. Even in those six games, he put up impressive numbers: six goals and 23 assists.
"He's incredible, he's totally taking control," Jensen said, regarding Billings. "He's a real good thinker. Not many athletes can see the game a half second ahead of everyone. That's what makes him special. He's not a big guy but he's so smart and so crafty and at the same time, he's very talented."
Billings was just one of a long list of Langley snipers.
Athan Iannucci scored four goals and added three assists to his totals.
Iannucci's fourth of the night, scored 5: 39 into the overtime session, gave the Thunder a 15-13 lead and stood up as the game winner.
Langley's Joel McCready recorded his second threegoal game in as many contests. He also had two assists for a five-point night.
Lewis Ratcliff scored twice and added three assists.
Cory Vitarelli scored four times for the Lakers while Scott Evans had a hat trick in a losing effort.
The Thunder clawed back from a pair of sizeable deficits.
Peterborough led 8-4 with 4: 28 to go in the second period before the Thunder stormed back with goals from Tor Reinholdt, Nik Bilic, McCready, and Ratcliff to tie the game at 8-8.
The Lakers scored three unanswered goals over the opening 5: 18 of the third period but once again, the Thunder stormed back to tie the score at 11-11.
This, in front of a pro-Lakers crowd of 3,343 in Peterborough.
"Were shocking them," Jensen said. "We might be able to pull off this miracle. I'm not saying we are going to win this thing, but [if we do] this will be the biggest upset in 50 years in lacrosse."
The Thunder registered a surprise 13-12 win over the favoured Lakers in the series opener on Friday.
The teams took turns dominating the first two periods.
On the strength of John Grant's hat trick, Peterborough owned the first frame, moving ahead 5-2.
Langley stormed back in the middle frame with five unanswered goals. By the buzzer, the Thunder had scored six goals to the Lakers' one to carry an 8-6 lead into the intermission.
The Lakers outscored the Thunder 6-5 during the third period but in the end, couldn't find a way to score the equalizer.
Rob Van Beek put the Thunder ahead 13-11 at the 19: 04 mark.
Van Beek's marker was answered by an Evans tally just 18 seconds later to narrow the home team's deficit to a goal.
That was as close as the Lakers would come as the Thunder eked out the one-goal victory.
McCready led the way with a hat trick. Iannucci scored twice and added four assists while Alex Turner potted a pair.
Billings scored once and tacked on five helpers while Ratcliff scored a goal and three assists. Kerry Susheski had a goal and two assists while captain Matt Leveque and Shayne Jackson also scored for the Thunder.
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