Colin Doyle has been there many times before - the guy who steps up in a big game to score a big goal.
It was no surprise in the third period of Game 6 of the best-of-seven Mann Cup championship series that Doyle assisted the game-tying goal and netted the game-winner to give the Six Nations Chiefs their fourth Mann Cup in team history (others came in 1994, 1995 and 1996).
The Chiefs won the series 4-2 and won the eighth consecutive Mann Cup for Ontario. The last Western Lacrosse Association team to win a Mann Cup was the Shamrocks, and they won on home floor in 2005. This was just their second Mann Cup series loss as the host team (their first came in the 1950s at Memorial Arena).
Cody Jamieson, who finished with 29 points (13G, 16A) officially, was named the Mike Kelly Memorial Trophy winner as the series MVP with three goals and four assists in Game 6 and a strong showing in every game in front of sold out crowds of about 3,000 at Bear Mountain Arena.
"They (the Shamrocks) were a tough team, and we beat the best goalie in the world," Jamieson said of his Rochester Knighthawks teammate, Matt Vinc. "What we said all season long was that with this much firepower we have out front, anyone can have a big game. We needed guys to step up and guys did."
"We knew teams may be able to stop one or two guys, but they're not going to be able to stop the third, fourth, fifth right up to the eighth or ninth guy."
Jamieson was the Game 6 MVP and was the consistent offensive spark for Six Nations in the series, but it was the offensive heroics of Doyle (finished the series with 4G, 14A) coupled with Brandon Miller's spectacular goaltending that made the biggest difference in the final period. Miller stopped all 15 Shamrocks third-period shots and finished the series with a 4.45 goals against average and a .904 save percentage, allowing just 15 goals on 157 shots to earn three straight wins (G4, G5, G6).
Doyle credited a full team effort for the championship.
"We've worked hard for this for four years," Doyle said. "And we took our lumps along the way, but it's amazing this - it's an amazing feeling. An amazing win against an amazing team in an amazing building."
"Today (this championship) ranks No. 1," said Doyle, the scorer of two game-winning goals in the series. "This is the most awesome feeling ever, I'm pretty proud of my teammates."
And who knows, this may very well be Doyle's last crack at the Mann Cup trophy. The Toronto Rock star pro is unsure of his status for 2014's summer season.
"We'll see how tonight goes... that's a long ways away. I may not be able to walk in a month so who knows," Doyle said with a grin. "It's hard to say."
What is certain is the Chiefs didn't win the deciding game easily. Victoria played one of its best games of the six-game series. Doyle credits the Shamrocks for a great series and for making it difficult.
"It's a war of attrition, you need to be the last man standing," the Kitchener, Ont., native said. "We believed in our heart, in our toughness, and these guys worked us, it was not an easy task. They represented Victoria well, we had to work for this. And that's what makes this feel so good."
"But give them credit," he added. "They represented Victoria well. I think it's just a credit to how good they are that we couldn't pull away."
"And, in the long run, it's a credit to us, we're a resilient bunch," Doyle added. "Our hearts are as big as the moon right now - it's just what you need to win a Mann Cup."
The Chiefs and Shamrocks were tied at 2 after the first, and the Shamrocks held a lean 5-4 lead entering the third period.
Between periods, Doyle said his squad regained focus.
"The coaches said let's imagine this as our game 7. We don't want to be here tomorrow night. Just go out and play, give everything you've got, see what happens," Doyle recalled. "That was our mentality and it worked."
For Miller, the Mann Cup was even sweeter. Playing the role of backup goaltender for most of the season - including all eight games of the Ontario Major Series Lacrosse playoffs - he came in and played magically to win the Mann Cup.
"I'm used to feeling a lot of pressure but I'm not sure if in my role this year as a backup, with the team not relying on me as much, that I just came out here and just expected to be supporting Kirky (starting goaltender Evan Kirk)," Miller said. "And he was great this series too, so when I got the call I just reacted to it as it came and that makes a big difference."
Miller credited adjustments by the Chiefs' defence as a major factor in the Six Nations success.
"To be honest, our defence hasn't played that good all year, the last three games they were especially good," Miller said. "We got a little spread out the first two, actually first three games, but we made some adjustments. And our guys are so big, when they pack it in, it makes it difficult to get to the net."
And in the end, that was what hurt the Shamrocks' offence, unable to beat Miller consistently from outside and unable to get to the interior.
The Six Nations team overcame their first playoff losses (Games 1 and 3), two game misconducts to goaltenders for illegal equipment, allegations of racism from Victoria fans, the challenge of playing in another team's home barn for the whole series and a second-period deficit in Game 6 to win the Mann Cup.
"You don't win these championships without going through adversity," Miller said. "We knew the days of coming out and sweeping were long gone. We just told our guys not to believe the hype coming in that we were the clear favourite. And even then, Victoria was better than we expected. Give them credit."
"In the end, we knew if we stuck to our game plan... we'd do well."
Jamieson, being mobbed to sign drums, sign autographs and take pictures, was gracious in taking time to reflect. He said everyone on the team trusted each other.
"(Going in to the third period of Game 6) we knew if we won one period, we won the Mann Cup," said Jamieson, who has now won two National Lacrosse League MVP titles and the Mann Cup MVP in the past 18 months. "We had balance on offence, but our defence is the backbone."
"Our defence had struggles at times, but they really did what we had asked for all year and they backstopped for us tonight and they were key in this victory for us."
And as the interview ended and we shook hands, the mob surrounded Jamieson once again: a fitting tribute to the star of the series.