By Janice Huckin
Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN
Victoria, BC (ISN) – With a near-capacity crowd in attendance at Bear Mountain Arena, the Victoria Shamrocks took sole possession of first place in the Western Lacrosse Association by virtue of winning their home opener 8-4 over the Maple Ridge Burrards.
Starting in goal for the Shamrocks was Matt Flindell while Chris Seidel guarded the cage at the Burrards’ end of the floor. It was the visitors getting on the board first, Mitchell Bannister putting the ball in the back of the net at 3:35, after a disallowed goal at the other end of the floor.
Maple Ridge’s Simon Giourmetakis, who would score one of the 4 Burrard goals, puts some first period moves on the Shamrocks Spencer Taugher (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)
The Shamrocks responded with a 3-goal run, the first of which came shorthanded. With his team down 3 players to 4, newcomer Greg Harnett fired a low shot past Seidel at 7:29. At 8:43 Matt Lyons scored on a shot over top of the Maple Ridge goaltender and the home team was up 2-1. It took a while for the next goal to be scored and that came courtesy of Mike Pires who faked high and shot low at 15:54.
Victoria’s Jeff Shattler looks for a way around Maple Ridge’s Sam Cook during the third period Friday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
Before the period ended, the visitors pulled back within a goal when Brandon Bertoia squeezed one just inside the post with just 6 ticks left on the clock. It was, despite a large number of penalties mostly to the home team, a pretty quick period with lots of scoring chances at both ends. The Burrards held a slim 18-16 edge in shots on goal but the Rocks had the lead on the scoreboard by a 3-2 margin.
Shamrock goaltender Matt Flindell makes one of his 16 first period saves against Maple Ridge Friday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)
The visitors came out flying in period 2, the first goal coming off the stick of Derek Lowe just 23 seconds into the period, as he found twine with a high hard shot. At 5:25 Simon Giourmetakis gave the Burrards the lead for the final time in the game as he scored on a high shot on which Flindell may have been screened.
The Rocks got things even again at 17:32, Cory Small firing a hard low shot to the back of the net after a successful penalty kill. That was the way the period ended, with things knotted at 4 and Victoria holding a slight lead in shots on goal, 15-12.
Victoria’s Mike Pires would contribute a pair of goals and an assist to the winning cause against Maple Ridge (Photo by Chrisitan J. Stewart – ISN).
While the first period was fast and end-to-end, the middle frame was a little sluggish at times, both teams guilty of coughing up the ball and both teams shooting wide with some frequency. Interestingly after 9 penalties in the first period, only 2 were called in period 2.
The Shamrocks came to play in the final frame and they owned the period, scoring four unanswered goals. The run started with Cory Small’s second tally of the contest at 2:24, a hard low shot that eluded the big Maple Ridge goaltender. Small added his hat-trick marker on the power play at 5:28, a shot that just squeezed inside the post. At 9:21 Pires picked up his second, firing a bouncer across the crease that went in off the post. Lyons tied the victory up with a bow when he scored his second of the game at 13:34, gathering up a long pass from Jeff Shattler after a forced turnover deep in the Shamrock zone.
Victoria’s Corey Small would lead the way with 3 goals and an assist in the Shamrock’s 8-4 win (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
The visitors pulled out all the stops, running the goaltender to the bench at every possession but Flindell and the Shamrocks defense held tight as the home team outshot the Burrards 16-8 in the final period and 47-38 overall.
Maple Ridge’s Simon Giourmetakis tries to drive by Victoria defender Rhys Jones during 3rd period action (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
It was an outcome that sent the fans home happy. Cory Small led the way with 3 goals and 1 assist and was named the game’s first star. Mike Pires and Matt Lyons each scored twice and added 1 helper, Pires being named the game’s third star. Pires also got into a scuffle and held his own at the end of the game with Burrards bad boy Kevin Reid. Jeff Shattler had 3 assists while Greg Harnett contributed a goal and an assist. You could have also made a case for Flindell to pick up one of the ‘star’ positions as he stopped 34 of the 38 shots he faced and also picked up an assist.
Victoria’s Jeff Shattler would contribute three assists to the cause Friday evening (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
For the Burrards, nobody was able to beat Flindell more than once. Goaltender Chris Seidel picked up second star honours by virtue of a 39-save performance.
The victory gives the Shamrocks a 2-0 record early in the season. Their next action is another home encounter next Friday, June 1. Their island rivals the Nanaimo Timbermen will be in town for a 7:45 start time.
It’s always a great battle when these two teams get together and fans will see almost as many Greater Victoria products in the visitors’ dressing room as on the home team. June 1 will also be “Speed Meets Speed” night when every fan will get a free pass to Western Speedway.
Rhys Jones (29, centre) and the rest of the Shamrocks salute the crowd following their home opening win (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).