© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News

In anticipation of a possible Mann Cup run, the Victoria Shamrocks stacked the line-up during the off-season with youth and veteran talent. Both brought it Friday night for the home opener of their 68th season.

It was fifth-round pick Cody Nass, who scored the game-winner with 4.8 seconds remaining in the game that sent a near sellout crowd to their feet. The Shamrocks had just taken a timeout with 21 seconds remaining.

“It was a good call,” said Head Coach Bob Heyes. “That was Mike Simpson, my new offensive coach, who made that decision. It looks good on him for a first outing.”

As for Nass, a junior scoring sensation from Delta, “I couldn’t have asked for a better start, that’s for sure.”

The Western Lacrosse Association champions will host the national championships this season and the Shamrocks expect to be there to take a run at a 10th Mann Cup.

The Shamrocks 2016 season looked promising until they became hamstrung by a series of injuries and a tough Maple Ridge Burrard squad. They lost game six of the WLA final 10-9, in a hard-fought battle Sept, 3rd in Maple Ridge.

It was a letdown after a first-place regular season finish, where they amassed a 14-4-0 record.

Friday’s game started with a moment of silence for former Shamrocks player and Victoria Firefighter Doug Angrove, who passed away earlier in the week at the age of 59.

The game took a while to get going, but not for a lack of effort, as the Shamrocks took 12 shots to Langley’s 6 by the mid-way point of the period. Despite the difference in shots, it was the Thunder who got on the board first scoring at 12:32. JP Kealey netted one from Bryce Brochu and Reece Callies.

Just twelve seconds later, Casey Jackson evened the score with an unassisted marker. At 15:59 and 17:18 Mike Triolo netted a pair. The first goal was a conversion of a pretty, three-way passing play with Triolo barging in to the front of the net, going high.

It was Cole Pickup and Josh Fagan assisting on the Triolo’s first goal then Nass and Corey Small assisting on the second. The period ended with the Shamrocks up 3-1 and the shots 19-7, due mostly to three Thunder penalties.

Newcomers Triolo and Jackson scored twice each, while Triolo added three helpers as well as a near solo penalty kill that was textbook. He and Small killed nearly the entire penalty in the offensive zone, much to the delight of The Q Centre faithful.

Nass scored from Pickup and Small at 2:05 of the second period.

The Thunder got one back at 4:27 from Brochu. Assisting on the play were Dylan LaCroix and Steve Hay

Langley got within one with a shorthanded marker from Justin Martin, who got a clear-cut break-a-way from centre.

The ‘Rocks had relinquished a 7-4 lead and got down 8-7 and that is when Captain Corey Small stepped in and scored two point-blank bullets on Davide DiRuscio.

The Thunder came back one more time to tie the score 9-9 with a Johnny Pearson goal.

That’s when Simpson made the call.

With the goaltender pulled and 4.8 seconds remaining on the clock, the Shamrocks pulled it off with good offensive pressure. The bounced off the end boards to Nass near the front of the net, who made no mistake.

J.P. Kealey had three goals and three assists for the Thunder, while James Rahe scored twice and Brett Dobray and Justin Martin added singles.

Shots were 43-37 for the Shamrocks.

The Shamrocks play next Friday at 7:00 pm.