Cory Conway – photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2016 – Victoria Sports News

The defending Mann Cup Champion Victoria Shamrocks took on the New Westminster Salmonbellies tonight in front of a near sold out Q Centre crowd and won by the score of 11-9, but it didn’t come easy.

The Shamrocks, coming off of an 18-6 season-opening win last Friday at the Q Centre against the Nanaimo Timbermen were up against a Salmonbellies team that is off to an 0-2 start entering tonight’s match-up, including a loss Thursday night at home to the Timbermen14-10. The Salmonbellies proved they were going to be a tough competitor.

The first period ended 3-2 for the Salmonbellies on a buzzer beater, power-play marker at the 19:59 mark, unassisted by Patrick Miles, it was a great effort.

The game was off to a conservative start, however, it was the Shamrocks who opened the scoring at the 6:31 mark with Chris Wardle scoring the first of two goals in the period and five on the game.

Wardle complimented his teammates and added, “we were down for three quarters of the game and faced adversity, but I like the way we persevered and ended up getting the win.”

The second period ended with the Shamrocks again down by one goal with the score at 7-6, however, they were down at one point by a score of 7-4 and were climbing back.

Shamrocks’ rookie Cole Pickup scored his first ever WLA goal at the 9:09 mark of the second on a shot that was set-up by Greg Harnett.

“It was nice to get a goal in this building that I grew up playing in,” Shared Pickup, who also played for the Victoria Grizzlies.

Myles Kenny – photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Shamrocks pressed hard and were up on the shot clock through two periods 31-22.

Eight seconds into the third period, right off the draw, short-handed and unassisted Tyler Burton tied the score 7-7. He almost repeated the effort on the subsequent draw moments later.

At 2:44 with the Salmonbellies pressing to re-gain the lead they thought they had scored, however, the shot clock ran out on them. For the remainder of the third it was all Shamrocks. They took their first lead since the Salmonbellies scored at 7:31 of the first with another of Wardle’s five to put the home-side up 8-7.

Just as the public address announcer Cliff Lequesne was finished announcing the Salmonbellies 8-8 game-tying goal, Rhys Duch walked in to score his second of the game, short side.

The game ended with the Shamrocks pinning the Salmonbellies in their own end for sustained periods of time and out-scored the visitors 7-2 starting from 14:38 of the second. The 11th goal, was an empty netter by Ben McCullough.

Cole Pickup earned third star honours, while Chris Wardle, on the strength of a five goal night earned the first star nod.

The Salmonbellies dressed one of the oldest players in WLA history, Assistant Coach Russ Heard, who is 52 years, four months-old. He has had his jersey retired with the Burnaby Lakes, after a long and productive career where he amassed over 1000 points.

Brett Dobray had a five point night netting two goals and three helpers.

The Shamrocks outshot the Salmonbellies 48-31.

The Shamrocks play again tomorrow night in Nanaimo and are back at the Q Centre Friday, June 3rd, after playing two road games.

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