The dream of a BC Junior A Lacrosse League championship and a spot in the Minto Cup came up two games short for the Langley Thunder.
Facing elimination on Saturday afternoon at Langley Events Centre, the Thunder were on the short end of an 11-8 final score to the visiting Victoria Shamrocks in game six of the championship series as Victoria won four games to two.
It marked the first time in the series that a visiting team was victorious on the home team’s floor.
The Thunder jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the Shamrocks scored a pair of late goals to send the teams to the locker room tied at three. Victoria would go ahead early in the second period and for the rest of the game, Langley was playing catchup, trailing 8-6 after 40 minutes and then 10-6 with just under eight minutes to go.
“They hit their shots and we didn’t,” said Langley coach Adam Smith. “(Adam) Bland saved them early when we had lot of chances. And later in the game, their D stepped up, forced us to take bad shots.”
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In the first period, Langley fired 21 shots on goal but only managed 24 over the final 40 minutes. By comparison, the Shamrocks had 16 in the first period and then 19 apiece in periods two and three.
Noah Armitage led the Thunder with a hat trick and six points while Drew Kask (two goals, one assist) and Declan Fitzpatrick both had a pair of goals. Kyle Brunsch added a goal and an assist. Brayden Wandler finished with 42 saves on 52 shots.
The Shamrocks were led by four goals and six points form Patrick Dodds and two goals and three assists from Mitchell Sandberg. Bland had 37 saves on the 45 shots he faced.
This marked the first time Langley had advanced to the BCJALL championship series and comes on the heels of a 10-4 regular season, the team’s best-ever winning percentage.
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“We were kind of written off at the beginning and came out 5-0. Then we had a couple of losses, and you start hearing people say that the bubble has burst or whatever, but we bounced right back and built on it, so we were battling for first place in the league,” Smith said.
“Going into playoffs, everyone says Nanaimo is going to take us and we are lucky that we even made it there and we didn’t even take the full five to get through them. And then they say Victoria is going to kill us after the first game and we push them to game six.”
The Shamrocks won game one 16-9, but in games two to six, the score was 51-50 for Victoria.
“These guys are a tremendous group of athletes. It was a pleasure to be a part of. The success they had is because of their work ethic and because they never gave up,” Smith said.
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