Bellies choke, Shamrocks up 2-0

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Written by Janice Huckin

August 9, 2014, New Westminster (ISN) – The New Westminster Salmonbelllies held a 12-9 lead in game 2 at home, with less than a minute and a half left in the third period but the Shamrocks rained on their parade.

Victoria scored 4 goals in 59 seconds and pulled out a 13-12 victory to go up 2-0 in their best of 7 semi final series Friday. 

The home team led pretty much from start to finish but I guess it must be said, it doesn’t matter who leads throughout – it just matters if you lead at the end of the game. Starting goaltenders, as in game 1 were Matt Flindell for the Rocks and Alexis Buque for the Bellies. New Westminster jumped out to a 2-0 lead early, just as they did in the opening game. 

Jordan McBride scored both goals, the first at 1:52 in close and reaching around and the second at 2:19 with a hard shot from outside the dotted line that beat Flindell through the 5-hole. Victoria responded at 7:02, Rhys Duch with a swim move and a corkscrew shot in close to pull within a goal. Exactly 6 minutes later the home team regained the 2-goal lead, Keegan Bal diving across. 

The Shamrocks power play went to work when New West took a 5-minute penalty as Dhane Smith Tallied at 15:02 with a quick stick in close. The tying goal came from Shamrocks captain Scott Ranger, also a power play marker, at 15:57. Unfortunately the visitors got into some penalty trouble of their own that allowed the Bellies to score a couple of man advantage goals of their own. 

Both goals came from Jr. ‘A’ call-ups as Nathan Stewart fired a bouncer at 19:35 with his team holding a 5-on-3 advantage. That released one Victoria player but Josh Byrne fired a shot from the dotted line that deflected off someone and that made it 5-3 New West, that goal coming at 19:52. You might have thought the period was over but, not quite yet as Tyler Burton won the faceoff and sent rookie Chris Wardle in and he made no mistake, scoring at the buzzer to pull the Shamrocks within 1, down 5-4 after 20 minutes. Shots on goal favoured Victoria 17-16. 

The visitors got things tied up off the opening faceoff in period 2, just 11 seconds in, as Mitch McLaren got in close. They were unable to get any traction and New West regained the lead at 3:16 off the stick of Byrne. Flindell was replaced briefly by Cody Hagedorn in the Victoria net and Corey Small got the Rocks even once again, picking the top corner at 6:26. Flindell went back between the pipes and the Bellies tallied once again on the power play, Logan Schuss finding the back of the net late in the 30-second clock. 

The Shamrocks weren’t going away and they responded with a shorthanded marker at 13:23 off transition as Karsen Leung did a spin-a-rama in front and fired in a backhander. The teams traded goals once more before the period ended, Byrne getting his third of the game for the home team with a hard, low shot through traffic at 14:15 and Small adding his second of the night for the visitors from well outside the dotted line at 16:05. That was how the middle period ended, with nothing solved, the teams deadlocked at 8 and Victoria ahead by a shot 36-35 after 40 minutes.

It looked like the Salmonbellies were going to run away with the game in period 3 as they came out with 3 goals to start the period. Schuss picked up his second at 2:27 with a low shot from the dotted line. Byrne added his fourth off the penalty kill rag, getting in close at 7:40. Colten Clark made it 11-8 getting in alone and scoring on a bouncer at 9:10. Once again, Hagedorn took over in the Victoria net and Matt Yager responded with an unassisted goal to close the gap to 2 at 10:19. 

Another Bellies power play goal restored the 3 goal lead at 18:33 and it looked like they were going to pull off the victory. One thing you can say about the Shamrocks is ‘they don’t quit’ and they didn’t tonight either. Enter game 1 hero, Small, scoring on a hard shot from well out at 18:58. The rookie Wardle picked up his second off a rebound right in front at 19:22 and the Rocks were within a goal. Small wasn’t done yet and he tied the score at 12-12, breaking in and finding twine at 19:37. It looked like overtime was in the cards but with 2.3 seconds left, Dhane Smith gave the Shamrocks the win, getting right in front. 

It was another hard-hitting game as is the type usually played by New West but they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a 1-minute meltdown late in the game and are facing now an uphill battle. Leading the Shamrocks offensively once again was Corey Small with 4 goals but Dhane Smith had another 7-point night with 2 goals and 5 helpers. They were named first and second stars respectively. Chris Wardle had a pair of goals with singles coming from Rhys Duch, Mitch McLaren, Matt Yager, Karsen Leung and Scott Ranger who also chipped in 3 assists. Jesse King contributed 4 helpers. Matt Flindell made 26 saves on 37 shots before being relieved by rookie Cody Hagedorn who stopped 9 of 10.

Josh Byrne scored 4 goals for the Bellies and was named the third star of the game. They also got a hat trick and 3 assists from Logan Schuss, and 2 goals and 3 helpers from Jordan McBride. Alexis Buque went the distance between the pipes and made 46 saves.

These teams meet up again at the Q Centre Sunday for game 3 in the series. That game starts at 6:00 pm – not the usual start time. It promises to be another barn-burner.

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