Josh Fagan. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

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During their second-to-last game of the season, the Victoria Shamrocks managed to take over first place in the final Western Lacrosse Association regular season standings tonight against the Nanaimo Timbermen at The Q Centre. They won 11-8 but it did not come easy.

Entering tonight’s action, the Shamrocks were two points behind the first place New Westminster Salmonbellies with 24, while both teams had 12 wins. With the win the Shamrocks are tied in points, but now have 13 victories to their credit.

“We don’t want to win the league being tied with another team and take the title on a technicality, so we are going to take tomorrow night’s game against Coquitlam seriously,” shared Rhys Duch who earned six points on the night with four goals and two helpers. Tomorrow’s game closes out the regular season for both teams.

Asked about narrowly defeating the Timbermen, Corey Small said, “I am not surprised that they played as well as they did, especially in the third period. They are a young team with some good skill. They will continue to improve.”

The Timbermen, who are out of the playoff hunt, had a very strong third period as well as a good start to the game.  After a slow start, the Shamrocks took control and scored four unanswered goals during the first period.

During a stretch of six minutes in the first period, the Shamrocks had four break-a-ways, scoring on the first one at the 7:09 mark on an unassisted goal by Tyler Burton to go up 2-0.

Matt Yager. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

At 50 seconds of the second period, Duch scored short-handed to make it 5-1. Cory Conway and Chris Wardle assisted on the play.

Mid-way into the second period the high-octane line of Duch, Small and Conway, worked the ball in the Timbermen’s end relentlessly. There were several excellent scoring opportunities with behind-the-back passes to the front of the net and several slick moves by Small, who was credited with 11 of the Shamrocks 48 shots.

Asked if he felt a little snake bit during the game he said, “I’ve been snake-bit for a while, but on any given night there are other guys who can step up, we have a lot of depth.”

Six different Shamrocks players scored with Duch leading the way with his four goals, Wardle and Small scored a pair each and singles were netted by Jeff Shattler, Doug Langois and Tyler Burton.

Four of the top-five and the first three leaders in the league points race are Shamrocks, with Duch sitting a 93 goals. “I would like to get 100, but I am not going to have it take away from us playing to win tomorrow night.”

Corey Small, Cory Conway and Jeff Shattler sit in second, third and fifth spot, with 71, 71 and 56 points.

The Timbermen’s goalie Peter Dubenski made several spectacular saves including one particular point-blank save on Duch with less than a minute remaining in the game. Cody Hagedorn made 33 saves from 41 Nanaimo shots.

The Shamrocks led the first and second periods by scores of 4-1 and 9-4, respectively before getting outscored during the third period 4-2.

Josh Fagan. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Shamrocks next play tomorrow night in Coquitlam and then the WLA first round playoffs start against the Burnaby Lakers in The Q Centre on Friday, August 12 at 7:45 PM.

Post-game video interviews with Corey Small and Rhy Duch>>

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