Written by Janice Huckin
August 14, 2014, New Westminster (ISN) – The Shamrocks are off to the WLA Finals after sweeping the New Westminster Salmonbellies four straight games with a 16-13 win Wednesday at Queen’s Park Arena.
The teams were tied 5-5 after one period, with the Shamrocks jumping out to a 12-6 lead after 2. The ‘Bellies were not going down easily, though, as they came from a 14-7 deficit to 15-13 before the Rocks scored an empty netter late to put the game away. Shots on goal were 62-42.
The same two goaltenders got the starts, Matt Flindell for Victoria and Alexis Buque for the Bellies, although neither would see the end of the game. The visitors got on the board first, Jesse King notching a shorthanded goal at 4:29, getting in close. New West replied with a power play goal at 4:50 on a shot by Jordan McBride from outside the dotted line. The home team took the lead at 5:44, Cliff Smith making good on a low bouncer.
The Shamrocks answered back with a pair, Tyler Hass scoring unassisted at the 7-minute mark, with a hard bouncer on the run off a loose ball pickup. King picked up his second of the game at 8:25 and it was 3-2 Victoria. Once again the lead was short-lived as Jimmy McBride tallied to the top shelf at 8:46. After a quick run of goals, the next didn’t come until 16:26 when Hass picked up his second on a break off a loose ball, that goal another shorthander for the visitors.
Once again, the power play did break through for the Bellies, Jordan McBride with a long shot that beat Flindell at 16:47. Each team scored once in the final minute of the period, Kyle Ross connecting for New West at 19:30 and Scott Ranger finding twine for the Rocks at 19:56, that goal coming with Flindell on the bench for the extra attacker, sending the teams to the dressing room deadlocked at 5. New Westminster actually held an 18-16 edge in shots on goal.
They were 2 for 2 on the power play but also allowed two shorthanded goals.
The second period saw the Shamrocks come out with all kinds of gusto as they peppered Buque with 25 shots and outscored the hosts 7-1. Victoria’s transition speed again paid dividends as Ryan Dilks scored unassisted at 1:50. Dhane Smith opened up a 2-goal Shamrocks lead at 7:51 with a hard low shot. The Bellies got another power play marker from the stick of Cliff Smith at 8:37 but the Rocks fired off 5 unanswered including another shorthanded goal and one on the power play.
Rhys Duch connected with the man advantage at 9:50, jumping up and putting a hard overhand shot in the back of the net. King picked up his hat trick marker, going over top of Buque at 11:32. Three more goals were added, almost exactly two minutes apart as Matt Yager tallied unassisted off a rebound in close at 13:19, that goal marking the end of the night for goaltender Buque as he was replaced by Neil Tyacke. Karsen Lang added another at 15:23 with the teams playing 4-on-4 and at 19:11 Hass collected his hat trick marker to send his team to the break with a 12-6 lead.
One might have thought the game was pretty much a done deal but this series has proven anything is possible. The Bellies came out quickly in period 3, Logan Schuss scoring at 1:25 with the goaltender off for the extra attacker. Victoria replied with a pair, the first off the stick of Leung into the empty net at 3:52 and the second, another shorthanded marker from Hass at 8:10. That made it 14-7 for the Rocks but the home team scored 6 of the next 7 to get back to 15-13, just one Victoria goal, Ranger’s second, coming sandwiched between two 3-goal runs by the 16:20 mark.
Cody Hagedorn replaced Flindell between the pipes at the 13:08 mark, allowing one goal before Hass collected his 5th of the game, another empty netter at 19:11 to salt away the win and the series. Tyacke was outstanding for the Salmonbellies in relief.
Tyler Hass led Victoria’s offense with 5 goals and 1 assist while Jesse King had the hat trick and 2 helpers. Scott Ranger and Karsen Leung each chipped in a pair of goals and 1 assist – good to see Ranger’s hard work paying off for him. Singles came from Dhane Smith, Karsen Leung, Rhys Duch, Matt Yager and Ryan Dilks.
For the Salmonbellies it was Jordan McBride leading the charge with 3 goals and 3 assists for a 6-point night. Cliff Smith added 3 goals and 2 assists with Josh Byrne contributing 2 goals and 3 helpers.
The Shamrocks will now await the other series winner. That series, between Maple Ridge and Burnaby is currently tied at 2-2 with game 5 being played Thursday in Burnaby and game 6 in Maple Ridge Saturday. Should a 7th game be required it will be Monday, August 18.