The Senior A Langley Thunder lacrosse team – relegated to the role of spoiler – threw a crimp into the Victoria Shamrocks post-season plans with an 11-8 victory on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre.
The win improved Langley to 4-10 with four games remaining in the Western Lacrosse Association season while Victoria – which finds itself in a heated five-way battle for the four playoff berths – saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end and their record fall to 8-5.
Victoria sits tied with Burnaby and Nanaimo as all three have 16 points, two back of first-place Maple Ridge but just two up on fifth-place New Westminster. Victoria, Nanaimo, and New Westminster have five games remaining while Maple Ridge and Burnaby have four.
Which one of the five watches the post-season from the sidelines will be determined over the next two weeks but one thing all five had in common was a game against the Thunder.
The Thunder will continue to play the role of spoiler over their final four games, in Burnaby (July 12), Nanaimo (July 20) and Maple Ridge (July 23) and then back at Langley Events Centre against New Westminster (July 24).
With Wednesday’s victory, the Thunder took the season series two games to one, holding the Shamrocks to eight goals or less in all three. Victoria entered the game second in the league with 9.12 goals per game.
The Thunder never trailed in Wednesday’s contest, leading 2-1 after one period and then opening the middle frame with three straight goals to chase goaltender Cody Hagedorn at the 5:28 mark. The goaltending change sparked a Shamrock surge as the Victoria visitors responded with three straight of their own to cut the deficit to 5-4 before Langley scored two of the final three goals for the 7-5 lead.
Victoria outshot Langley 23-13 over the final 20 minutes but could never get within two goals as Steve Fryer was solid once again, stopping 46 of 54 shots.
“Hard work will win over talent any day, as long as you are working harder than the talent. That is all we are doing is coming in and working hard,” Fryer said post-game. “You can see from the beginning of the year to now how much better we are playing as a team.”
Despite his team having the second-worst goals against average (10.50), Fryer sits third in the league with 472 saves and an .840 save percentage. He is also fifth in goals against average at 8.83.
When Langley made the decision to trade away arguably their top four offensive weapons, as well as a valued transition player at the deadline, it signalled the team was looking towards the future
Keegan Bell, part of the trade package which sent the Thunder’s Connor Robinson and Tyler Pace to Victoria, had a great game against his old club with a hat trick and four points to earn the first star award.
Langley’s Coady Adamson (another in-season acquisition) had a goal and four points to finish as the third star while Dylan Kinnear and Preston Lupul each had a pair of goals and an assist. Andrew Garant and Brad McCulley both finished with one goal and one helper and Aidan Milburn scored once to round out the attack.
The Thunder had four Junior A call-ups in the contest with Matt Brunsch (two assists) and Carson Rees (one assist) chipping in offensively while Bobby Kidd III and Thomas Rennie had strong games defensively. Kidd was especially noticeable, spending time on the penalty kill in the second period with his team two-men down, breaking up a pass at one end and then drawing a penalty at the other.
Jesse King led the Shamrocks with two goals and five points and was named the second star while Graeme Hossack and Larson Sundown both had two goals and a helper.
The Thunder are back in action on Friday, July 12 when they travel to Burnaby to face the Lakers at Bill Copeland Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.