If the Maple Ridge Burrards are going to win a Western Lacrosse Association championship on Saturday, they will have to do it in hostile territory.
The Burrards were on their way to Vancouver Island on Saturday afternoon, and the unwelcome confines of the Q Centre – the lair of the Victoria Shamrocks.
The Burrards are up 3-1 on the Shamrocks in the best-of-seven series, with the winner moving on to the Mann Cup – the holy grail of Canadian lacrosse.
“It’s going to be a tough game. It’s always tough when you’re over there,” predicted GM Lance Andre by phone on the team bus.
He said some 30 stalwart Burrards fans will be in the crowd, bobbing like corks in a sea of 3,500 Shamrock supporters, who enjoy hurling invective at the visiting team.
“People love to hate us over there,” observed Andre.
The fans are no doubt feeding off the feeling between the players. The two teams have become fierce rivals since the 2016 championship series the Burrards took from the Shamrocks – a team that had been starting to believe winning the WLA was a Victoria birthright, after three straight. They’ve had more visits to the Mann Cup over two decades than Trump had to lawyers offices.
But the Shamrocks are in tough this year.
The Burrards, and in particular Ben McIntosh, have jumped on the Shamrocks in each of the past two games, as the Burrards big gun has posted hat tricks in the first period in both contests. At the same time, the Burrards defence and MVP-quality goaltending from Frank Scigliano has left the Shamrocks shut out in the first frame.
McIntosh’s 19 goals in the playoffs is second only to teammate Curtis Dickson, who has 24. They are tied for second in playoff scoring with 36 points each, behind only Shamrock Rob Hellyer. McIntosh/Dickson is a one-two punch that the Shamrocks have had no answer for thus far.
While Andre said his team can’t count on a slow start by Victoria tonight, they will again be focused on striking first.
“Don’t give them life. Don’t give them hope,” he said. “Get the lead, and keep the lead, and celebrate on the bus.”
And he doesn’t want to see his team giving up the man advantage to the potent Shamrocks power play.
“The key will be to keep our composure, and stay out of the penalty box.”
Game time is 6:30 p.m.
Watch for coverage tonight at approximately 9:30 p.m. at mapleridgenews.com