Well, the Burnaby Lakers have done it again. For the third straight time they have staved off elimination, winning game 6 of their semi final series against the Victoria Shamrocks 14-12 in their home rink. That takes both teams to a 1 game, winner take all game 7 Sunday at the Q Centre.
I don’t think anybody thought the Rocks would sweep, but I doubt very much anyone would have predicted this after they took a commanding 3-0 series lead. In any event, it’s not over until it’s over so game 7 it will be.
As for game 6, the starting goaltenders were Adam Shute and Zak Boychuk for the Shamrocks and Lakers respectively. The Rocks got an early jump, Rhys Duch giving the visitors a lead just 38 seconds in with a quick stick from the side of the net. Just 1:04 after that, the Victoria defense got in on the action as they transitioned up the floor and Taylor Northway collected Jon Harnett’s pass to beat Boychuk and it was 2-0. But then as quick as you could shake a stick, Burnaby picked up a quick pair, beginning with Josh Byrne’s tally at 6:01 from outside the dotted line. At 6:35 Robert Church got the score knotted at 2. Goals were fast and furious as Victoria came right back with another pair within 27 seconds, Corey Small connecting at 7:04 from outside the dotted line through traffic and Cory Conway following up at 7:31 from right in front. That 4-2 lead held up until 13:36 when Dane Stevens pulled the Lakers within a goal on a breakaway but Duch picked up his second of the night at 13:55 from way outside the dotted line. The Rocks took that 2-goal lead to the dressing room and had outshot the home team 20-10.
The second period was a veritable goal-fest with 13 goals scored between the two teams, Burnaby holding the edge 7-6 in goals and 16-12 in shots. Once again it was the Shamrocks connecting early, Small getting his second at 1:17 off a tic-tac-toe passing play. Chris Wardle followed that up at 1:40, going to the front of the net and it was 7-3 for the visitors. As the Lakers have done all series, they replied with a pair, again coming in rapid succession. Church picked up his second at 3:30, looking dangerously close to being in the crease and Eli McLaughlin added another at 3:59. Victoria was trying to keep some distance between them and they replied with another pair of their own, Paul Brebber scoring at 4:28 on a shot that Boychuk thought he had. He didn’t. Duch added his hat trick marker at 4:28, going to the net. The teams traded goals, Byrne picking up a power play goal at 6:12 for Burnaby and Duch getting his fourth from outside the dotted line at 6:39. The Lakers then got on a 4-goal run, starting with Justin Salt’s marker at 7:03 on a quick stick. Scott Jones picked up another power play marker at 7:27, followed by Dane Stevens at 8:35 and Jones again at 13:56, to tie the score at 10-10. During that stretch there were 8 goals in a 5-minute stretch from 3:30 to 8:35. It sounded like a Perry Mason case – The Case of the Disappearing Defense. In any event, Victoria managed to get the 1-goal lead back with a goal from Wardle, his second of the night, on the power play at 18:26.
Whereas in the first few games of the series, the third period belonged to the Shamrocks, in the last couple it has belonged to the Lakers and this was again the case tonight. Burnaby took the lead on the first two goals of the period, McLaughlin scoring just 38 seconds in, getting in close. They took the lead for the first time with a power play goal, their third on four attempts at 7:21 on a quick stick from the side of the crease. The Shamrocks fought back, once again the defense getting the job done as Jon Harnett raced up the floor and scored unassisted at 9:33. But the Lakers added two more, one from Byrne at 13:07 and an unassisted tally from Church at 16:11 after which they were able to run the clock down and force the deciding game.
Victoria outshot the Lakers 51-40 in the game. They got strong offensive performances from Rhys Duch (4 goals and 3 assists), Cory Conway (1 goal and 6 assists), Chris Wardle and Corey Small (2 goals and 2 assists each) and Jeff Shattler (4 assists). Other goals came from Paul Brebber, Taylor Northway and Jon Harnett.
The Lakers got hat tricks from Robert Church, Josh Byrne and Eli McLaughlin while Scott Jones had 2 goals and 3 assists. Tyler Digby and Jason Jones had 7 and 5 assists respectively.
So it is now a 1-game, winner-take-all situation and the ball is back on the Shamrocks’ court. Game 7 goes at 6:00 pm at the Q Centre. Let’s fill the rink and support the boys. Winner takes on Maple Ridge in the league final.