Special teams and goaltending are two things commonly mentioned when teams talk about what it takes to win in the postseason. The Langley Thunder displayed both in what felt like a playoff game on Sunday afternoon at Langley Events Centre.
Hosting the Nanaimo Timbermen in BC Junior A Lacrosse League action, the Thunder scored six times on the power play while also playing more than half of the second period short-handed, allowing just two goals during that time in a 10-9 victory.
Officially, the Timbermen power play was three-for-nine on the game while Langley was a lights-out six-for-eight.
“Our penalty kill has been good all year and it bailed us out,” said Langley head coach Dane Dobbie. “And I thought Torin (Van Rheenen) was playing great in the second period. It definitely gave us a little spark there.”
Van Rheenen made 15 of his 39 saves in that middle stanza.
Buoyed by their penalty kill and goaltending in the period, the Thunder offence was razor sharp in the third period — going a perfect 4-for-4 with the man advantage.
“That was a must-win. Season series are very important and we are tied 1-1 now,” Dobbie said of the team’s head-to-head record with the Timbermen.
They will play the rubber match in Nanaimo on June 22.
The teams are tied in points as Langley is 8-6 while Nanaimo is 8-4, having played two less games than the Thunder, and the first tiebreaker is head-to-head record.
Both are in the cluster of five teams battling for the BCJALL’s four playoff berths with Coquitlam (10-2, 20 points) sitting first, Victoria (9-4, 18 points) second, and New Westminster (7-4, 14 points). Just four weeks remain in the regular season.
The Thunder own the season series record with Victoria but are 0-2 against New Westminster and 0-1 versus Coquitlam.
In Sunday’s victory, Ryan Martel led the way for the Thunder with four goals and eight points.
He continues leading the league in both with 39 goals and 76 points as well as a league-best 6.3 points per game. He also has three or more goals in five straight games and has scored four or more points in 11 of the dozen games he has played this season.
After the game, he was more interested in talking about the team’s victory rather than his individual accolades.
“The O guys are just starting to gel and we are just running plays, and whoever scores, scores. That is kind of how we run as an offence, we don’t care who is putting them in. If they are going in, that is all that matters,” Martel said.
Nanaimo held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 but was only ahead for a grand total of 1:37. And once Ryan Jones made it 3-2 for the home side with just over five minutes to play in the opening frame, the Thunder held the lead for the rest of the night.
Dylan McIntosh scored twice and added three helpers while Caleb Pearson (one goal, three assists), Connor Watson (one goal, two assists) and Jones (one goal, one assist) also registering multi-point games. Trevayne Hunter rounded out the scoring.
The Timbermen were led by six-point games from both Arthur Miller (two goals, four assists) and Thomas Vaesen (three goals, three assists) while Colton Lidstone and Ryan Sheridan each had a goal and two helpers.
Up next for the Thunder is a road game in Coquitlam on Friday, June 14 as they battle the Adanacs for the second time in eight days. The Adanacs won the first match-up 11-10.
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