Written by Janice Huckin

July 17, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – The Shamrocks finished the road portion of their 2014 schedule Wednesday and, with a 6-3 victory over the Langley Thunder have clinched top spot and home floor advantage throughout the playoffs.

Rookie Cody Hagedorn got his second start in goal for the Rocks with Mike Lowe suiting up for the Thunder in the absence of Brodie MacDonald due to a suspension.

Corey Small got the Rocks on the board early, putting the ball over top of Lowe just 1:05 into the game. Captain Scott Ranger made it 2-0 on a hard low shot at 4:36 and that was all the scoring in the opening frame, despite Victoria holding a 21-9 edge in shots on goal. Only one penalty called in the period, to Langley late in the frame so it was a very fast period.

The game wasn’t particularly sharp on the part of either team, both guilty of turnovers, but Langley more so. The Shamrocks ran up the lead with the first 3 goals of the second period. Brandon Bull tallied unassisted at 4:36, grabbing a rebound and putting it over top. Mitch McLaren added another unassisted goal at 9:57, this one the result of a loose ball pick-up and a run up the floor. Rhys Duch made it 5-0 at 13:53 when Ranger got a pass to him right in front. Before the period ended, Langley finally solved Hagedorn, Athan Iannucci getting in close, perilously close to being in the crease but the goal counted, that coming at 14:54. The period ended with the Rocks up 5-1 and once again outshooting the Thunder, although it was closer – 20-16.

Langley scored first in the final frame, Daniel McQuade firing a high, hard shot from well out at 7:59. The sloppiness continued, making the game only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry at times. Victoria re-gained the 4-goal lead at 15:13, Ranger getting his second of the night as he got unmolested to the front of the net. Langley managed one more but too little, too late as Ian Poole scored shorthanded and unassisted at 18:31, running away from the defensive coverage with a delayed penalty about to be called. Again Langley on the short end of shots on goal by a 19-9 margin, making it 60-34 overall.

The Shamrocks’ power play continued to struggle, not that there were a lot of penalties but they did go 0-4 with the man advantage and allowed a shorthanded goal. Only Scott Ranger managed more than a single goal, finishing with a pair of goals and an assist. Corey Small and Rhys Duch each managed a goal and 2 helpers while Mitch McLaren and Brandon Bull had the others. Cody Hagedorn picked up his second win of the season, stopping 31 shots, definitely not as busy as his counterpart but very solid when called upon.

The victory gives the Shamrocks 26 points, 9 ahead of second place Maple Ridge who has just 4 games remaining. Burnaby sits in third with 14 points, followed by Langley with 12 and New Westminster and Coquitlam still in the hunt for the final playoff berth with 10 points each.

The Shamrocks finish the regular season with 3 straight home games.  Beginning this Friday, July 18 they will face off against the New Westminster Salmonbellies at 7:45 at the Q Centre. The Rocks will look to sweep the series against the ‘Bellies, having won the two previous contests. It will also be Local Heroes Night at the Q Centre as the Shamrocks honour local firefighters, police officers, paramedics and military personnel. They will then host Burnaby on July 25 and finish up the season against Nanaimo on August 1.