By Janice Huckin
Victoria (ISN) – The Shamrocks lost their second consecutive game to the Langley Thunder Friday at Bear Mountain Arena, falling 14-11 in overtime.
The result makes it 10 games undefeated for the Thunder against the Rocks going back to 2010.
Chris Levis got his first start in goal this season for the Shamrocks while Brodie McDonald started for the visitors. The game started promisingly when Kory Kowalyk scored on the Rocks’ first shot of the contest just 1:30 in, firing a bouncer to the back of the net. Right off the faceoff, however, Joel McCready scored on Langley’s first shot on goal to tie things up at 1:54. And that was pretty much how the whole first period went, the teams trading goals, trading penalties and making the period very entertaining for the excellent crowd in attendance. Ryan Benesch scored at 4:32, picking up a rebound in front to re-gain the Victoria lead. A Langley power play goal on a hard, low shot off the stick of Athan Iannucci at 6:06 knotted things again but the Rocks replied with a power play goal of their own a couple of minutes later, Derek Lowe firing a hard shot from the dotted line that got behind McDonald at 8:01. Just 44 seconds later it was Tor Reinhold replying for the visitors, kind of a weird goal from beside the net. The teams traded power play goals, Corey Small scoring for the Shamrocks at 12:06 and Lewis Ratcliff replying at 13:06 to knot things at 4 apiece. Benesch collected his second for Victoria at 15:27, another marker with the man advantage on an absolute bullet but Ratcliff picked up his second at 17:07 and that was how the first period went into the books. Nothing was solved with the teams tied 5-5 and Victoria holding just a slight edge in shots on goal by an 18-16 margin.
The home team again claimed the lead early in the middle frame, Small collecting his second of the game on a hard low bouncer at 1:09 following a great play by Chet Koneczny to intercept a Langley pass. That was followed by a 4-goal run by the visitors. Kyle Belton tied things up at 3:54 and at 8:12 Iannucci capitalized for his second of the game to give the Thunder their first lead of the game. They would hold the lead from that point right until the final minute of the third period. It also marked the end of the night for Levis in the Shamrocks goal as he was replaced by Matt Flindell. Three minutes later Iannucci picked up his hat-trick marker with a hard shot to the top corner. At 16:27 Kerry Susheski added to the Langley lead, catching the Victoria defense napping a bit and breaking in. The Rocks finally answered back, Mitch McLaren coming in off the faceoff and beating McDonald at 16:41. The teams traded goals once again, Ratcliff scoring for the Thunder at 18:17, another power play marker and Brock Armour replying for the Shamrocks with just 34 ticks on the clock breaking in after Reed MacPhail forced a loose ball. At the end of 40 minutes it was Langley with the 10-8 lead and now holding the lead in shots on goal by a margin of 35-34.
Armour picked up his second of the game 6:33 into period 3, the home team exhibiting a burst of energy after Flindell had come up with several huge saves at the Shamrock end of the floor. Play was a little hit-and-miss for much of the period, certainly lacking any crispness in passing or shooting. An unassisted goal by Langley’s Nik Bilic at 15:58 restored the 2-goal lead but, as Yogi Berra once said – it’s not over until it’s over – or something like that. At the 19-minute mark, with Flindell on the bench for an extra attacker Jeff Shattler got in close to get the Rocks within a goal. Langley tried to run the clock down to hold onto the win but Dan MacRae forced a loose ball and managed to get the ball down the floor where Shattler connected for his second at 19:39. Nothing solved after 60 minutes and this game was going into overtime.
Unfortunately it was all Langley in the extra period as they scored 3 goals to take yet another game away from the Shamrocks.
Rookie Karsen Leung led the Shamrocks with 7 assists, earning him second star honours. Corey Small, Brock Armour, Jeff Shattler and Ryan Benesch each contributed a pair of goals while Mitch McLaren, Derek Lowe and Kory Kowalyk chipped in singles. Matt Flindell kicked out 29 of the 35 shots he faced in relief while Chris Levis stopped 16 of 23.
For the Thunder it was Lewis Ratcliff leading the way with 4 goals and 2 assists and Athan Iannucci adding 3 goals and 4 helpers to be named the first and third stars of the game respectively.
The result solidifies Langley’s hold on first place, now 4 points ahead of both Victoria and Burnaby. Victoria continues to hold 2 games in hand over both those teams. The Shamrocks have no time to re-group as they travel to Coquitlam Saturday to face the Adanacs. They face the Adanacs again next Saturday on the mainland before returning to Bear Mountain Arena for their next home game Tuesday, July 17 against the New Westminster Salmonbellies.