The Victoria Shamrocks apparently don’t like to do anything the easy way. Even if they did, the Burnaby Lakers have no intention of making it easy for them in their best of seven semi final series. Playing their third game in four nights, the Shamrocks came up with another win, 10-7 over the visiting Lakers to lead the series 3-0.
Starting goaltenders were Tyler Richards for the visitors and Adam Shute for the Shamrocks and it was the home team scoring first, Jesse King getting in close on a break at 5:09. Unfortunately, King was helped from the floor and did not return. Lakers’ leading scorer, Robert Church got the visitors even at 6:49 from inside the dotted line before the Shamrocks went on a 3-goal run before the period ended. First it was Rhys Duch finding the back of the net at 16:11 on a run off the bench as he collected a long outlet pass from goaltender Shute. Chris Wardle added another just 31 seconds later with a shot that beat Richards just inside the post. Richards was knocked to the floor on the play and was replaced by Zak Boychuk for the remainder of the game but it didn’t really matter to the Shamrocks as Duch picked up his second of the game at 18:42 to give his team the 4-1 lead after 20 minutes despite being outshot 13-11.
Victoria increased their lead to 4 goals with Duch’s third of the game on the power play just 46 seconds into the middle frame. Burnaby made good on their own power play at 2:16, Tyler Digby scoring from the side of the crease. That was the start of a 3-goal run as Jason Jones tallied at 3:58, finding the top corner from outside the dotted line and added a shorthanded unassisted goal at 13:02 with a steal in the offensive zone. The teams traded goals before the period ended, Corey Small getting into the action at 14:41 on a shot that Boychuk seemed to get a piece of. Church added his second of the night for the visitors to bring his team back within a goal at 16:09. Once again Burnaby had the edge in shots on goal by a 17-13 margin.
As has been the case in the previous two games of the series, Victoria came up with a strong third period but again, it didn’t come easy. Burnaby scored on an early power play, Church getting his hat trick marker at 1:43 from well out to tie things up. Victoria got the lead back at 8:56, Jeff Shattler with a quick stick. That lead help up for about 3 minutes before yet another power play goal from the Lakers’ Digby, his second of the night, tied things up at 7. Lest you get the impression there were lots of penalties in the game – well, yes there were plenty and then again plenty uncalled. In any event, Duch got his 4th goal of the night at 12:19 to put the Rocks ahead, cutting to the net. A 2-goal lead came courtesy of Jr. ‘A’ Shamrocks call-up Braylon Lumb. Lumb got his first ever WLA goal, cutting in and scoring on a quick stick at 15:20. That was enough to win the game and the Rocks did kill a lot of time but when fate – or the Lakers – give you a chance to put a ball into an empty net, you’d best take it. Taylor Northway did just that at 17:45, going coast to coast and beating Boychuk back to the net. It was also his first WLA goal as he took the ball for a souvenir. Shots on goal were 18-10 for the Shamrocks and they pulled out another win.
As mentioned, there was a steady parade to the penalty box but nobody was pleased with the level of officiating. Certainly the fans weren’t happy. Neither team was very happy apparently. There were blatant infractions not being called, borderline tactics being called and the lack of consistency or even competence could certainly be questioned. I don’t know when the level of officiating will ever live up to the greatness that lacrosse can be when played and refereed at a high level. I can say it definitely wasn’t happening tonight.
Rhys Duch led the Shamrocks’ attack with 4 goals and 1 assist and was named first star. Jeff Shattler with a goal and 4 helpers and Cory Conway with 5 assists also had 5 point nights. Corey Small, happy to be back in the line-up after a 1-game suspension added a goal and 3 assists with other goals coming from Chris Wardle, Taylor Northway, Braylon Lumb and Jesse King. Adam Shute made 33 saves to pick up the win. Defensive stalwart and assistant captain Greg Harnett was named second star – nice to see those ‘d’ guys get some recognition.
Robert Church led Burnaby’s offense with the hat trick and 2 assists to earn third star honours. Jason Jones and Tyler Digby each chipped in a pair of goals.
Both teams can now get ready for game 4 which takes place Sunday at 6:00 pm in the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby. Should a fifth game be required, it is scheduled for 7:45 pm on Wednesday, August 17 back at the Q Centre.
In game 2 of the other semi final series, Maple Ridge Burrards have taken a 2-0 series lead with a 7-6 win in game 2. Game 3 is Saturday back at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster.