Cole Shafer (Langley Events Centre/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley Thunders look for victory over Salmonbellies tonight

Langley’s senior A lacrosse team fell to the Victoria Shamrocks at LEC Wednesday night, 14-7.

There is something about the second period.

Tied at three following 20 minutes on Wednesday night, the Langley Thunder were out-scored 8-2 over the middle stanza, and that proved to be too much to overcome for the senior A lacrosse team as they were handed a third consecutive defeat, 14-7 to the visiting Victoria Shamrocks in Western Lacrosse Association action at Langley Events Centre.

Victoria improved to 2-2, while the Thunder fell to 1-3.

It continued a troubling trend as Langley has been out-scored 24-9 in second periods of the team’s three defeats.

If you include their season-opening victory, the score in the middle stanza is 26 for the opposition and 13 for the Thunder. By comparison, over the remaining 40 minutes, the Thunder are ahead by a collective score of 23-21.

“We have had trouble in the second period of all three losses. We have been cooked in the second period,” said Thunder head coach Rod Jensen.

The simple explanation might be that the Thunder are struggling with the long line change in transition during those 20 minutes, but Jensen doesn’t feel that is the issue.

“We just seem to take the foot off the gas pedal there,” he explained.

The other factor is his young team sitting back way too much and letting the opposition’s offensive weapons pick them apart.

Last week, it was Curtis Dickson putting up a 10-spot on the Thunder and this time it was Casey Jackson leading the way with four goals and eight points for Victoria. And he had plenty of help as well, with Chris Wardle (three goals, two assists), Jesse King (one goal, four assists) and Alec Molander (one goal, four assists) each with five-point games.

The team is consistently getting beat by the same play and players over and over again and not making the necessary in-game adjustments.

“We just seem to give them way too much time to look around the floor and basically pick us apart,” Jensen said. “We need to gamble, send someone over, take some chances. If we get beat, fair enough, but don’t keep getting beat the same way.”

Another area for the team to improve is the amount of trips to the penalty box.

The Thunder were whistled for 10 infractions – compared to just one Victoria minor penalty – in Wednesday’s defeat.

And while Langley added a league-leading sixth short-handed goal, they allowed three power-play goals and spent a total of 17:12 in the penalty box, nearly a full period.

Six of those penalties were in the decisive second period when Victoria took control, and Jensen said the Shamrocks thrive on playing with the lead, and by spending so much time exerting energy killing off penalties, the Thunder fed into what the ’Rocks wanted to do.

Langley was led by the quartet of Connor Robinson, Aidan Milburn, Tyler Pace and Andrew Garant, who each had three points.

Robinson has two goals, while Milburn, Reece Callies, Dylan Riley and JP Kealey scored once apiece.

And Kealey had an off-shooting night, finishing with just one goal despite a team-high dozen shots. He entered the game with seven goals on 25 shots, a shooting percentage of .280.

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Back at it tonight

The team is back in action tonight (Thursday, June 7) as they visit Queens Park Arena for a showdown for the WLA’s lone unbeaten team, the 3-0 Salmonbellies.

It will be a tall task for the Langley Thunder as they face the New Westminster team.

The Thunder are up against the 3-0 Salmonbellies – the Western Lacrosse Association’s lone unbeaten team – when the two senior A lacrosse squads hit the floor at Queens Park Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Jensen said all areas of the team’s game need to improve.

“We need to be a little grittier on our loose balls and battle a little harder and get more people in there,” the head coach explained, pointing out the fact his team is losing the loose ball battle by a nearly 2-to-1 margin through four games.

“We are young and athletic, but I don’t think we are anticipating as best as we can.”

And offensively, the team has shown signs of good things to come.

Pace and Kealey share the team-lead with eight goals through four games. Pace also has a team-high 14 points with Kealey and Robinson right behind at 13 points.

“We just need a little more time to get some more reps with each other and to feast on the things they are having success with,” Jensen said.

Another area the team needs to improve is spending less time in the penalty box. They took 10 minor penalties against Victoria, compared to just drawing one penalty.

Langley is averaging 22.5 penalty minutes per game, nearly five minutes higher than the league average (17.8).

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