Playing his first competitive lacrosse game in three years, Steve McKinlay did not miss a beat, scoring three times and more importantly, tracking down a rebound in overtime to maintain possession and then setting up Erik Maas for the sudden-death winner.
“I was thinking about shooting but I saw Maas coming down that back side so I just got him the ball and he put it in, and the game was ours,” he explained.
Maas’ goal came 66 seconds into overtime and gave the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club a come-from-behind 15-14 win over the Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club to wrap up week five action of Arena Lacrosse League west division on Sunday at Langley Events Centre.
The Grizzlies were down 14-8 in the opening moment of the fourth quarter before scoring six straight to force overtime – including a Sekawnee Baker penalty-shot goal with 1:31 to play after the Shooting Eagles were called for an illegal substation.
The win improves the Grizzlies to 4-1 while the Shooting Eagles sit at 1-4.
While most of the players in the Arena Lacrosse League are in their 20s, McKinlay will be 36 years old next month. He last played competitively in 2018 before requiring Achilles’ surgery and then dealing with the sport’s pause because of the pandemic.
“I want to play this game as long as I can; I love the game and the amount of joy it brings to me,” he said about what drew him back.
“Any time I can get to come on the lacrosse floor is a good day for me. It is the medicine game for me and the opportunity to play in this league just makes me happy.”
McKinlay scored twice in the opening quarter but the Grizzlies were down 5-3 after 15 minutes and 11-5 at the half. Prior to halftime, the Grizzlies replaced goaltender Brandon Humphrey, who allowed 10 goals on 36 shots, with Kyle Mooney.
“Nothing on Humphrey, he played well, guys just weren’t getting back so transition was happening on him,” explained Grizzlies coach Ryan Williams, who said the move was more about getting a message to the team.
“Once we got them settled down, we talked about the highs and lows, and staying even keel and pick away at one shift at a time, and the guys chipped away at it.”
Williams added a win like this shows character in a team.
Mooney would stop 26 of 30 shots and was the game’s first star. And with the back end solidified, the Grizzlies chipped away at the deficit, cutting the score two 13-8 after three quarters before completely taking control in the fourth, scoring six straight to end regulation and then net the OT winner.
Maas led the Grizzlies with two goals and five points while McKinlay (three goals, one assist) and Baker (one goal, three assists) each had four-point games. James Baker and Mitch McDole chipped in with two goals apiece and a helper with Andrew Gresham (one goal, two assists), Nash Moog and Aaron Skye rounding out the scoring with a goal apiece.
Brody Harris made 41 saves on 56 shots for the Shooting Eagles and was the second star with Baker earning third star honours.
Despite the loss, Shooting Eagles coach Adam Smith saw plenty of positives from his squad.
“In the fourth quarter, they kept being able to just sneak it past us,” he lamented, adding that the fact just needs to get some practice time together to correct the minor mistakes that are costing the team. Three of the team’s four losses have been by a single goal.
“We get a practice and can clean up the defence and bring it down a couple of goals and that’s a win.”
While McKinlay was debuting for the Grizzlies, Ryan Martel played his first game for the Shooting Eagles and led the team with five goals and eight points.
Dylan Laprade (three goals, one assist) and Coady Adamson (two goals, two assists) both had four-point games with Jake Foster finishing with a trio of helpers. Cole Paciejewski, Garrett Winter, Mark Yingling and Declan Fitzpatrick all finished with a goal and an assist.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
Formed in 2017, the Arena Lacrosse League is regarded as the National Lacrosse League’s minor league, and with seven Ontario-based teams in the ALL prior to the launch of the ALL west division, 15 per cent of the current NLL players have played at least one game in the ALL.
The ALL plays under the same game rules as the NLL, providing high-level competition and exposure that provides NLL management and executives the opportunity to monitor individual progress through game webcasting and statistics.
Game evaluations from ALL west coaches will assist in development of players who are currently on NLL practice rosters or are ready for in-season call-ups.
To learn about the league, visit www.arenalacrosseleague.ca.