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By Janice Huckin

May 21 2014 ISN – The WLA season has begun for the defending champion Shamrocks as they saw a 5-2 first period lead get away and they settled for a 13-13 tie on the road against the Nanaimo Timbermen Tuesday night.

Zach Boychuk got the start for Nanaimo and Matt Flindell took up his position between the pipes for the visiting Shamrocks. It was the Rocks getting an early lead, Corey Small scoring just 19 seconds into the opening frame. Nanaimo replied at 1:13 on an unassisted tally from rookie Paul Brebber. It took less than a minute for Mike Pires to restore the Victoria lead at 2:04 and Small, hungry to get back into action after missing the entire NLL season notched his second at 10:01. A T’Men power play goal by Mac McGregor, shooting from the dotted line, drew the home team within a goal at 13:52 but they gave up a pair of unanswered goals before the period ended. Newcomer Bradley Kri got in close, taking advantage of Victoria’s speed on transition to score at 18:07 and call-up Blair Pinnock picked up his own rebound to make it a 5-2 Shamrock lead at the end of 20 minutes. Shots heavily favoured Victoria 24-15 in the period but Nanaimo wasn’t going away.

Nanaimo got the first two periods of the middle frame, Cody Bremner picking up a rebound off the wall in close and scoring at the 2:02 mark. Johnson then collected his second power play goal of the contest, stealing the ball and wiring a shot to the back of the net at 7:43. Once again the Victoria lead had been cut to a single goal and that lead would go back and forth between 1 and 2 for the remainder of the period as the teams traded goals. Rhys Duch scored on a power play for the Shamrocks at 10:43 but his former linemate Cayle Ratcliff, scored at 11:47 for the T’Men, doing what he does best, powering to the front of the net. Small picked up his hat trick marker for the Shamrocks with a hard shot that found the back of the Nanaimo net just inside the post to restore the 2-goal lead at 12:35 but Bremner collected his second on a power play at 16:09 after some great ball control. Once more the teams traded goals – Tyler Hass came in right off the faceoff to score a shorthanded marker for the visitors at 16:18 and Doug Langlois replied for Nanaimo at 18:12 when Victoria goaltender came out to play the ball and was caught, allowing Langlois the shot into the empty cage. Nanaimo had turned the game around and held a 26-18 edge in shots on goal in the period and were behind by an 8-7 score.

Victoria looked as if they might run away with the game as they scored 4 of the first 5 goals in period 3 and special teams played a major role for both squads. Duch capitalized on a power play at 1:17, firing a bullet from the dotted line. Small added his 4th of the game, also on a power play at 2:53. A goal from Nanaimo’s Bremner, shorthanded at 3:38 was the meat in the Shamrocks’ 4-goal sandwich but 2 straight goals from Duch, the first at even strength at the 4-minute mark and the second shorthanded at 4:05 had the boys in green up by a 12-8 margin. Apparently the home team Timbermen were not impressed as they managed to score the next 4 goals. Hugh Weir gave the T’Men some momentum when he scored on a rare penalty shot at 8:19. Jamie Sorensen got in close to beat Flindell late in the 30-second clock at 13:25 and just a minute later Myles Dennett got in close to close the gap to a single goal. Kyle Hofer added the tying goal at 15:35 and that was how things ended after 60 minutes, the teams deadlocked at 12 apiece.

Into the 10-minute overtime we went and it was Nanaimo putting all kinds of pressure on the Shamrocks early but Flindell coming up big in the nets. Doug Langlois took a 5-minute major at the 7:00 mark and Kri, getting his second of the game, at 7:46 on a power play, capitalized to put the Shamrocks ahead. That wasn’t the end of the game, though, and late in the period, Nanaimo pulled their goaltender to go 5-on-5 on the floor and it was Cayle Ratcliff coming through to give the Timbermen the tie, getting in close and scoring with just 46 seconds on the clock. The result goes into the books as a tie, each team picking up a point. By the end of the game, Nanaimo had taken a 71-65 lead in shots on goal.

Leading the Shamrocks offensively were Corey Small and Rhys Duch with 4 goals apiece and 3 and 1 assist respectively. Kri Bradley had a pair with singles coming from Tyler Hass, Blair Pinnock, and Mike Pires. Matt Yager had a pair of assists and Jesse King contributed 4 helpers.

For Nanaimo Cody Bremner picked up the hat trick and 4 helpers for a 7-point night. Cayle Ratcliff and Mac Johnson each had a pair of goals and Johnson added 3 assists while singles came from Hugh Weir, Myles Dennett, Doug Langlois, Paul Brebber, Kyle Hofer and Jamie Sorensen.

The game was almost like a 2013 Jr. Shamrock reunion as the Shamrocks had 4 of last year’s graduating players in their line-up while the Timbermen also had 4 from last season’s crop. Both teams have a wealth of youth in their line-ups and both have players yet to return from school and the NLL – Nanaimo won’t roll over for any team; they want to get into the post-season action. The Nanaimo-Victoria rivalry is certainly alive and these two teams will face off once again in the Shamrocks’ home opener this Friday, May 23 at the Q Center. Game time is 7:45 pm but come out early and enjoy a tailgate party starting at 5:30.