Strong defense in a defensive game. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2019 – Victoria Sports News

The Langley Thunder defeated the Victoria Shamrocks 6-4 Sunday at The Q Centre in Colwood. They were still reeling from the 11-6 opening-game loss to Nanaimo on Friday.

The last time that the Shamrocks started the season 0-2, they went on to win the Mann Cup back in 2015. The Mann Cup tournament is back on the west coast for 2019 and the Shamrocks have loaded up for a run; just the big guns haven’t arrived yet. Even though Coach Bob Heyes is not pushing the panic button yet, he wanted those two wins and any suggestion otherwise was met with disagreement.

“That’s not the way we want to look at the season. We want to get off to a good start,” said Coach Bob Heyes. “We have the core group of guys here and we are going to work with them for the season.”

However, the Shamrocks are without three of their top players in Jesse King and Rhys Duch, who won the National Lacrosse League Championships title Saturday for the Calgary Roughnecks in overtime 14-13 over the Buffalo Bandits. The other is Bandit Steve Priolo a defensive and shorthanded play specialist.

“We can’t put all of the offense on the shoulders of those guys either,” he added, regarding the power duo of King and Duch.

Also not in the lineup was new acquisition from Nanaimo Timbermen Senior B team goaltender Peter Dubenski. Marshal King, the younger brother of Jesse King was acquired in a trade as he was drafted from junior by the Maple Ridge Burrards in 2019. Also in that draft and chosen 13th overall in the second round was Larson Sundown the two are finishing up their respective NCAA seasons and will join the Shamrocks next month.

The 6-1, 190-pound offensively-minded Sundown is currently attending Limestone College. The Basom, NY native is a first-team all-star and All-American. King is attending Drexel University and is a two-time all-star for the Dragons.

Brad McCulley with a goal, gets the shot off. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Asked if he expects the two high draft picks to play full time in Senior A, Heyes said, “yes.”

The team will look very different mid-season.

For the Roughnecks, Duch scored the winner and King scored once and picked up five assists during the game on Saturday.

Sunday, the Shamrocks got off on the right foot in the opening frame with a pair of goals early at 3:35 and 4:30; they got up to a 2-0 lead. Casey Jackson assisted on both goals. Then Langley lit up Aaron Bold with four straight. Connor Robinson, Dalton Lupul and Garrett Billings each scored for the visitors.

The Thunder scored back-to-back shorthanded markers, which marked a momentum shift.

Heyes had seen enough and pulled Bold at 15:52. Cody Hagedorn took over.

There was no scoring during the second frame – both goalies battened down the hatches – shots after two periods was 37-35 for the Shamrocks. Casey Jackson had several good scoring opportunities. Daniel Smith used up most of the floor on the man advantage and was in on a couple of odd-man rushes, as well as his own break-a-way, but he fired at goaltender’s chest.

“Some of the shots choices were not great. That is one area we need to improve on,” added Heyes.

Tyson Gibson got one back for the Shamrocks, scoring from Chris Bouchy and Cole Pickup at 5:57 of the third. The Thunder got one back a minute later when Brad McCulley scored from Aiden Milburn.

To pull within two, Chris Bouchy buried the ball close-in. Pickup and Jackson with his third point on the night picked up assists on the goal.

The Shamrocks took 52 shots, while the Thunder had 49.

The Shamrocks next play at The Q Centre on Friday, May 31 against the Burnaby Lakers. Game start is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Cody Hagedorn post-game interview: