Written by Janice Huckin
July 21, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – The Langley Thunder hosted the Victoria Shamrocks Saturday night and, in a hard fought game, it was the Shamrocks coming out on the losing end of a 9-8 score.
Starting goaltenders were Matt Vinc for the Shamrocks and Brody MacDonald for the Thunder. Langley came out quickly, scoring on their first two shots of the game. Working on the power play, Athan Iannucci scored at the 1:30 mark with a quick stick from the side of the crease. Just 6 seconds later, off the faceoff, Nik Bilic got in alone and it was 2-0 Langley. The Shamrocks got on the board at 2:02 on a power play of their own, Corey Small scoring from the dotted line. The Thunder restored the 2-goal lead on a tally from Adam Jones that found the top corner at 5:16. Another power play goal from Victoria’s Tyler Hass off transition got the Rocks within a goal at 6:50 and Cory Conway tied things up for the Shamrocks at 11:12 getting away a quick release from well out. Unfortunately more penalty problems for the Rocks gave the Thunder the opportunity for another power play goal off the stick of Mark Matthews at 14:01. Iannucci collected his second at 17:29 with a low shot as he cut to the net. After 20 minutes, it was the home Langley Thunder with a 5-3 lead despite being outshot 21-13 in the period.
The second period saw only 3 goals scored, the first coming at the 7:52 mark when Langley broke up the play and Scott Johnston, coming off the bench, got in alone to beat Vinc. Victoria picked up the other two goals. Small picked up his second of the game at 14:02 with a hard low shot from outside the dotted line and Karsen Leung, who was a sparkplug for the Shamrocks Friday night capitalized on the power play at the 19-minute mark. That brought the Rocks within 1, down 6-5 but being outshot 16-11 in the period.
The Shamrocks tied things up very early in the final frame, Cory Conway scoring his second just 42 seconds in on the power play. They couldn’t sustain the momentum and the Thunder came back with a pair. Shayne Jackson scored at 2:02 on a hard bouncer through traffic. Another bouncer off the stick of Iannucci from the other side of the floor restored the 2-goal Thunder lead at 3:33. The Rocks battled back and got a goal from team captain Scott Ranger at 8:22 but just over a minute later Langley’s Kyle Belton managed to squeeze a shot by Vinc who got a piece of it but couldn’t keep it out of the net. The Shamrocks took a 5-minute major late in the period but Vinc and his penalty-killing teammates didn’t allow another goal. In fact the Rocks managed to get a shorthanded marker late in the game as Dan MacRae fought through the entire Langley defense. Unfortunately for the boys in green, that was as close as they would come, dropping the 1-goal decision.
The result clinches first place for the Thunder, giving them home floor advantage throughout the playoffs as they seek to make their third straight appearance in the Mann Cup as WLA champions.
Leading the way for the Shamrocks offensively was Cory Conway with 2 goals and 3 assists. Corey Small also had a pair of goals while Karsen Leung and Dan MacRae each had a goal and 1 helper with Scott Ranger scoring the other.
The Shamrocks have one game remaining and that is at home next Friday against their island rivals, the Nanaimo Timbermen. The T’Men will miss playoffs once again but have been competitive in most games and in fact dropped a 9-8 decision to Coquitlam in the other Saturday night contest. Game time next Friday at Bear Mountain Arena is 7:45 p.m.