The now 5-2, Victoria Shamrocks got one back on the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Thursday at Queen’s Park Arena, by handing them their first loss of the season by the score of 12-11. It was payback on the Salmonbellies for spoiling the Shamrocks home-opener 9-8 at The Q Centre on June 3rd.
Friday, the Shamrocks were up against the second-place Maple Ridge Burrards, for the second of back-to-back games. The Shamrocks won with a spirited and organized team effort winning by the score of 14-9 in front of 1,909 fans.
“This was an important weekend for us,” said Jesse King. “It could have been a bad weekend too so it was good that we came out with the wins. Credit goes to the coaching staff and Rhys Duch, who gave me a few words of encouragement earlier this week. “
King opened the scoring at 2:07. It was a seeing-eye shot that entered the net on goaltender Frank Sciglano’s right side that King snuck in between the stick and body. Chris Wardle and Derek Lloyd earned assists on the play.
With Maple Ridge called for too many men, the Shamrocks powerplay went to work, dishing the ball around the Burrards’ end until Wardle spied an opening and buried his first in a four-goal game for the hometown boy. King and Duch picked up assists on the play.
On the night that the Shamrocks retired legend Kevin Alexander’s jersey, King fired his own Alexander-patented shot along the floor – a sub-shot, but Scigliano made the save on the play. Several more sub-shots were taken, two going in, in apparent tribute to the legend.
“I think everyone was channeling a little Kevin Alexander tonight,” said Coach Bob Heyes.
After a few minutes of a relentless attack by the Shamrocks, the Burrards came back against the flow and scored at 8:23. It was a Curtis Dickon shot, in-close. The goal seemed to ignite the Burrards and they launched a furious attack. One-minute at 14 seconds later, Jean-Luc Chetner scored an unassisted marker to tie the game.
The Shamrocks settled the play down a little and mounted their attack again finding pay dirt when Tyson Gibson scored off of a beautiful 40-foot pass from Duch, who found Gibson breaking in on goal.
Asked about Duch becoming a playmaker instead of being the dominant goal-scorer, Heyes said, “he had a difficult season in the NLL this year and is focussed and serious and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Duch ended up with seven assists and a goal.
The Burrards, called for their second too many men penalty, gave up another superbly directed shot by King for his second of three on the game at 15:48. Duch earning the only assist on the powerplay marker.
The Shamrocks started the second period, shorthanded. They killed off back-to-back penalties, then went back on the attack.
They scored five unanswered goals between 13:02 and 17:57, to take a 10-5 lead. Duch, Fagan and King scored as well as Casey Jackson and Wardle twice each during the period – Wardle completed the hat-trick. It was a 10-goal period.
The Burrards entered the game with the best penalty kill in the league, but five of the Shamrocks goals were scored on the man advantage.
Burrards’ Owen Barker, who could be seen losing his cool earlier in the period, chased Derek Lloyd into the boards and flattened him with a dangerous hit from behind. He was assessed a five-minute major as well as a match penalty, giving him the gate for the game.
Wardle would score his fourth goal of the game at 2:50 of the third, while on the powerplay. Three of his goals came on the man advantage. Duch and King assisted, it was King’s third assist and sixth point. Wardle had an outstanding game picking up eight points.
The Burrards would try to make a game of it during the third period with Riley Loewen completing the hat-trick with back to back goals at 12:17 and 13:09, to bring the Burrards to within three goals, they were trailing 12-9 with 7:20 remaining.
With 4:22 remaining in the game, Steve Priolo was delivered a pass with Scigliano running from the bench back into the net (he was pulled in favour of the extra attacker) – Priolo double clutched, held the ball and faced the goaltender one-on-one and buried the ball five-hole – he could have taken the empty-netter.
Ben McCullough was rewarded with an empty net opportunity of his own – after his typical hard-working defensive game – it was a team effort.
Maple Ridge outshot Victoria 53-49.
The Shamrocks next play Friday, June 22 in Burnaby, then at The Q Centre when they host the Nanaimo Timbermen on Friday, June 29 at 7:30 pm.