The Victoria Shamrocks looked to re-kindle their last WLA Championship in 2015, where they swept New Westminster in four games to capture the league championship, and then the Mann Cup. The Salmonbellies were looking for revenge and trying to keep the momentum going their way after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit against Maple Ridge in round one.
New Westminster found the opening two goals of the game in the first seven minutes, but Victoria was able to muscle back with a pair of their own. Corey Small put the Shamrocks on the board with a power-play goal at the 11:30 marker, with assists to Casey Jackson and Rhys Duch. In his 2017 playoff debut, Duch then upped the ante with his first goal of the postseason with just two seconds remaining in the opening stanza, tying the game at two.
Victoria continued their run in the second as Danny Smith collected his third goal of the postseason to put the Shamrocks ahead. Fellow defender Paul Brebber then scored exactly three minutes later as Victoria held a 4-2 lead. Just as Victoria worked out of a two goal hole in the first, the Salmonbellies were able to in the second with a pair of goals ninety-seven seconds apart. Evan Messenger regained the lead for Victoria, but it was short lived. Mitch Jones, who scored the goal that sent New Westminster to the finals, potted two just fourteen seconds apart as the Salmonbellies led 6-5. Messenger, whose first goal gave Victoria the lead, used his second of the night to tie it just forty-three seconds after Jones’ second goal. The swapping of goals continued as Connor Robinson put New Westminster back in front another forty-three seconds later. Brebber’s goal put Victoria up 4-2 with 12:05 left in the second, and Robinson’s marker gave the Bellies a 7-6 lead just seven minutes later as the hosts had a one goal lead after two.
Justin Goodwin added some insurance early in the third with a goal 2:17 in, before Logan Schuss iced it with 3:17 left, putting New Westminster up three. Rhys Duch scored his second of the game nineteen seconds later, but that was as close as Victoria would get, as they fell 9-7 in the Queen City. Duch was named the game’s third star in his return to the lineup, totaling four points with two goals and two helpers. Brebber, who had just one point in his previous seven playoff games, tallied a three point night with a goal and two assists.
Game two goes Sunday back to Victoria, as the ‘Rocks look to hold serve on their home floor and return to the mainland with a tied series. Game three is on Tuesday night back at Queens Park Arena, game four is Friday at The Q Centre.
Tickets for the WLA Finals are on sale at victoriashamrocks.com, the team store located at 967 Langford Parkway, or over the phone at 250-478-7625. As a reminder, season ticket holders have their seats guaranteed until 5:00 pm the day before the home game.
Next game (HOME): WLA Finals, Game 2, Sunday, August 20th, 6:00 pm, The Q Centre