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Written by Janice Huckin

July 18, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – The New Westminster Salmonbellies came into the Q Centre fighting a battle for a post-season berth but the Shamrocks sent them away on the short end of a 13-5 score.

Shamrocks Tyler Hass chases Salmonbellies Cliff Smith, hoping to dislodge the ball from his stick. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

Cody Hagedorn got his second consecutive start in goal for the Rocks, coming off a 6-3 victory in Langley on Wednesday. For the visitors it was Alexis Buque between the pipes. It was Local Heroes Night at the Q Centre and, after the playing of O Canada by the Naden Band, fans were barely in their seats when New West opened the scoring, Curtis Hodgson scoring off an interception deep in their own zone at the 1:05 mark. OK – the fans got seated and Rhys Duch responded immediately for the Rocks, getting in close to score at 1:29. 

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The Ball gets knocked out of Salmonbellies Jeff Cornwall’s stick. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

Action was fast-paced but the next goal didn’t go on the board until 11:09 and it was Duch with his second, fighting off a check, twisting and turning to get the shot away. The visitors then responded at 12:06, Brendan Ranford going on a run after a poor Victoria pass attempt. The ‘Bellies jumped into a 1-goal lead at 18:39, Jeff Cornwall getting in close to score shorthanded, a shot that Hagedorn seemed to get a piece of. The unsung heroes of most sports teams are the “D” guys and it doesn’t get any better than a defenseman getting an unassisted goal, unassisted and that’s what Victoria’s Tyler Burton did at 19:44 to send the teams to the dressing room tied at 3 and shots on goal pretty even, 16-15 in Victoria’s favour.

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Shamrocks Mike Pires moves along down the floor while staying in possession of the ball. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen)

It looked like it would be one of those back-and-forth roller coaster rides of a game but the Shamrocks put that thought to rest with a dominant middle period, outscoring the visitors 6-0. Burton picked up his second of the game and wouldn’t you know, it was shorthanded and it was unassisted and it came off the opening face-off just 9 seconds into the period. It took a while for the next goal and it came off the stick of Dhane Smith at 8:24 as he rattled a hard shot from just outside the dotted line inside the post. 

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Players on both teams distract one another. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

At 9:07, Brandon Bull found the back of the net, getting in close.  Smith picked up his second of the game at 12:52 on a run, Hagedorn getting the assist on that one after coming up with a great save. The Rocks’ power play has struggled but you can’t say the same for their short-man team as they picked up their third shorthanded goal of the game at 15:25. 

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The ref breaks up an altercation before it goes any further. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

This time it was Duch with his hat trick marker, getting in close. That was the end of Buque’s night in the New West goal as Neil Tyacke came in for him. Finally the Shamrocks’ power play clicked, Duch finding the back of the net with a hard shot from outside the dotted line at 18:38. After 40 minutes, shots on goal were still pretty even, 32-29 but it was the Shamrocks up 9-3 on the scoreboard.

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Intermediate ‘A’ Shamrocks goaltender, Liam Reid, gets a turn between the pipes near the end of the third. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

Period 3 opened with New Westminster getting a goal just 29 seconds in, Colton Clark getting on a run but it took just 59 seconds for Victoria to reply, Smith collecting his hat trick goal. Clark got his second for the visitors on a low shot from in close at 6:37 but the home team finished with a 3-goal run. Corey Small tallied at 10:43 on what was a flukey goal in that it seemed the ball was somewhere close but nobody knew exactly where and then it was over the goal line. He added another at 13:37 with the man advantage and Duch added his fifth of the contest a 15:51 off a rebound. 

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Shamrocks Rhys Duch gets 5 goals and 2 assists. (Photo: Kasey Eriksen ISN)

With just a tick under 2 minutes left in the game, the Shamrocks gave Intermediate ‘A’ Shamrock call-up Liam Reid a chance between the pipes as he faced one shot but had some action around him and got a good stick-slapping reception from his teammates. Pretty cool for an 18 year-old.

Rhys Duch led the way offensively for the Shamrocks with 5 goals and 2 assists. Dhane Smith had the hat trick and 2 helpers for a 5-point night. Tyler Burton and Corey Small each had a pair of goals and 1 assist. Brandon Bull had the other Victoria goal while team captain Scott Ranger chipped in 3 assists. Cody Hagedorn made 37 saves to pick up his third win of the season. Victoria also swept the three stars with Hagedorn, Burton and Duch going 1-2-3.

The Shamrocks next action is next Friday, July 25 when the Burnaby Lakers make their only visit of the season to the Q Centre. Game time is 7:45 pm and there will be another pre-game tailgate party.