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The Victoria Shamrocks hosted the Burnaby Lakers at The Q Centre in Colwood for game four of their first-round Western Lacrosse Association playoff series. They won a proverbial nail-biter 12-10.
The Shamrocks, up in the series 2-1, won the first two games 8-9 and 9-6, but the Lakers came back hard in Burnaby to outscore the Shamrocks 13-4 on the strength of a seven-point night from Robert Church.
“They were a desperate team and they played like it in Burnaby, down 2-0,” said Coach Bob Heyes. “He is very difficult to defend against and contain.”
Church set up five markers and scored a pair of his own before the night was done.
Coming into Friday’s action, Church led the league in points during the playoffs with 17. The regular season leader in goals, assists and points, Shamrocks’ Corey Small, leads the league with 11 assists. He has also tallied four times for a total of 15 points.
Wednesday, Church, with too much time on his hands, opened the scoring at 38 seconds.
With the Lakers up 2-0, the Shamrocks buried three unanswered, to end the first period up 3-2.
Joe Resetarits scored at 11:16 with a bullet from the stick side of goaltender Eric Penny – he had no chance. Small spotted Resetarits and fired the pass hard – Penny couldn’t move fast enough. At 12:54 Player of the Game, Steve Priolo buried the ball from Mike Triolo and Resetarits, score tied 2-2.
Priolo was acknowledged for his two-way play on the night. “I always think defence first. I like to get down the floor and contribute, but I want to play well at both ends.”
With Paul Brebber in the sin bin, Chris Wardle scored from Evan Messenger and Priolo shorthanded, to put the Shamrocks up 3-2.
Casey Jackson scored at 3:06, and then Sheldon Burns scored at 3:15 to go up 5-2.
Jackson was the recipient of a short, inside pass from Small; he pivoted alone in front of Penney and buried the ball high.
Resetarits threw a bullet that went top-right corner, cross-net at 6:31 from Small and Priolo. It was six consecutive goals to go up 6-2.
“It’s a game of patterns,” said Resetarits. “You have to manage the patterns, to make sure you stay in the game and limit the other guy’s goals against.”
After the six by Victoria, Burnaby threatened a comeback with three in a row from Eli McLaughlin, Matt Spanger and Church for his second of the game.
Triolo put one away from stick side, cross- net to go up 7-5. Resetarits and Small assisted.
The Lakers got two more, one on the powerplay, one unassisted, both from Byrne, score 7-7.
With the score 11-10, unknown speedster Danny Smith – so new, he wore no name on his back - broke in alone and buried one unassisted at 19:34. He ran the floor and was chased by three Lakers, none of whom could catch him. On goal, he went 1-on-2 for the insurance marker, to a standing ovation.
“We have the best players in the world in this game, right here,” said Heyes. “I think that goal was worth the price of admission right there.”
Resetarits earned eight points on the night with three goals and five assists. Small earned six points, Jackson had five, while Triolo four and Priolo three with his stellar defensive play.
Josh Byrne with six and Church with five points led the Lakers offensively, who were outshot 51-48.
Aaron Bold manned the Shamrocks’ net, Penney stayed the distance for the Lakers.
The series resumes Friday in Burnaby.
Elsewhere: The Maple Ridge Burrards lead the New Westminster Salmonbellies 2-1 in their series. They reconvene on Thursday in Maple Ridge.