Lucas Wilson, Victoria Shamrocks
On Tuesday night, the Victoria Shamrocks began a new season. Aside from earning home-floor advantage, all of the Shamrocks’ previous accomplishments meant nothing as they began their first-round series against the Burnaby Lakers. The fourth-seeded Lakers came into the Q Centre as the top-rated defensive team in the WLA. For most of the game, this was quite evident. For two and a half periods, game one was a tight, relatively low-scoring affair. Halfway through the third, the Shamrocks offence finally clicked, and they scored four quick goals to pull away from the Lakers. With a final score of 9-6, the Shamrocks took game one, and will bring a 1-0 series lead into Burnaby.
The Shamrocks got off to a fast start in the first. In the first six minutes, the Shamrocks got two goals from Rhys Duch and one from Doug Langlois to give them an early three-goal lead. At this point, the Lakers decided that they had seen enough out of their top-rated goalie, Zak Boychuk, and they put Tyler Richards into the game. This move proved to be smart, as the Shamrocks would be held off of the score sheet for the remainder of the period. A last-minute goal from Robert Church would make it a 3-1 game heading into the second.
An early slashing penalty to Jon Harnett proved costly, as Scott Jones would bring the Lakers to within one goal early in the second period. The Lakers would get another powerplay goal past Adam Shute just five minutes later to tie the game at three. The Shamrocks and Lakers traded goals halfway through the period to bring the score to 4-4. Late in the second, Duch fired up the Q Centre crowd with a buzzer beater, hat-trick goal past Richards to give the home team a 5-4 lead heading into the third.
The Lakers would get two quick goals early in the second to take a 5-4 lead. Richards kept the high-octane Shamrocks offence off of the scoreboard for another six minutes until something finally clicked. After being completely shut down on the powerplay, Duch managed to tie the game with his fourth of the game. Three minutes later, the Shamrocks would pull ahead on a long distance shot from Cory Conway. Jesse King doubled the Shamrocks lead a few minutes later, followed immediately by Duch’s fifth of the night. After struggling to score for so long, the explosion of offence would prove to be enough, as Shute shut the door to give the Shamrocks a 9-6 win.
There was no shortage of intensity in game one, as both teams engaged in some physical play in-between and after the whistles. Game two promises to bring the same intense atmosphere, as the series shifts to Burnaby on Thursday night. The series will return to the Q Centre on Friday night for game three. Fans can get tickets at our extended office hours by calling 250-478-ROCK or at www.victoriashamrocks.com
Complete game stats: http://www.victoriashamrocks.com/stats/game//307/league/83201 (also attached)
Shamrocks playoff stats: http://www.wlalacrosse.com/stats/team/62/307/league//8071
WLA playoff leaders: http://www.wlalacrosse.com/stats/leaders?gametype=playoff
Next game (Away): Thursday August 11th, Victoria @ Burnaby, 7:45pm (Game 2 in best of 7 series)