Shamrocks fans were hoping to reverse the trend of teams losing at home in the WLA finals but, after the Rocks dropped game 5 by a 12-8 score to the Maple Ridge Burrards at the Q Centre Wednesday, they will be hoping the trend continues as they will now have to win on the road to extend the series to a seventh game.
Who’d have thought it? Starting goaltenders were Adam Shute for Victoria and Frankie Scigliano for the Burrards. Maple Ridge quieted the crowd with an early goal, Riley Loewen scoring just 40 seconds in, going across the front of the net. Victoria got that one back on a power play at 4:18 and it was team captain, Corey Small, tallying on a hard shot from outside the dotted line. At 7:55 the visitors regained the lead with an over-the-shoulder shot late in the 30-second clock from Mike Mallory. The Rocks fought back and Cory Conway got the score knotted at 2 with just 7 ticks left on the clock, taking a long outlet pass from goaltender Shute and getting in alone to pick the top corner. That was the score that went into the books after one period, Victoria outshooting the Burrards 19-15 but even on the scoreboard at 2. Some nonsense at the 20-minute mark sent Maple Ridge bad boy Kevin Reid to the box for 14 minutes with a double minor and 10-minute misconduct. He was very brave in taking on junior call-up Braylon Lumb who also was sentenced to 12 minutes, a minor and misconduct.
Maple Ridge got on a 3-goal run to start the middle frame, the first coming on an unassisted goal from Ben McIntosh at 4:11, finding the top corner behind Shute. Loewen added his second of the night at 6:04, going to the net and Dan Taylor made it 5-2 for the visitors, shooting over a defender at 6:45. Cody Hagedorn replaced Shute in the Shamrocks goal and the Rocks got one back, Small picking up his second of the game at 9:37, off a transition break. They were unable to maintain the momentum as Maple Ridge came back with another 3-goal run. Loewen scored his hat trick goal at 9:37 and off the ensuing faceoff Matt MacLeod went in to score unassisted at 9:45. Back to the bench went Hagedorn and back between the pipes went Shute. Maple Ridge made it 8-3 at 10:01 when Owen Barker scored, again seeming to shoot around a defender. Victoria started to make a comeback, Jeff Shattler scoring at 10:52 with a hard shot from outside the dotted line. Rhys Duch pulled the home team within 3 at 14:26 with an unassisted tally but that was as close as they would come in that period. They were down 8-5 on the scoreboard and had been outshot in the period 18-13.
The Shamrocks made it a 3-goal run with the first goal of period 3, courtesy of Corey Small with a hard shot from outside the dotted line at 1:34. There seemed to be no sense of urgency for Victoria’s offense, guilty of numerous give-aways and the Burrards took full advantage, getting goals from McIntosh and Mallory at 2:20 and 4:57. The Shamrocks’ defense tried to take things into their own hands as Ethan Garland took a pass from Matt Yager and put the ball behind Scigliano at 14:25. Zack Porter replied for the visitors, getting in along, crashing the goaltender at 16:25. If you are crashing the goalie, how can you not be in the crease? Good question. Matt Yager, again one of those defensive stalwarts, went coast to coast and beat Scigliano with a shovel shot at 18:09 but McIntosh added an empty netter for the visitors at 19:02 to provide the margin of victory.
The whole series has been rather perplexing. Shamrocks fans expect a lot from their team. They are typically not alone in that the Shamrocks organization also has very high expectations for themselves. They usually are pretty dominant at home because they have the most and the loudest fans in the WLA but something has been lacking in these playoffs. Tyler Burton, probably the league’s best faceoff man all season and even early in the playoffs, has been succeeding only at about 50% in the last 2 playoff games.
Victoria’s offense was led by Corey Small with the hat trick but Rhys Duch was held to just 1 goal and 1 assist. Jeff Shattler, Cory Conway and Matt Yager chipped in a goal and 2 helpers whle Ethan Garland had the other goal. Small was named second star.
Riley Loewen and Ben McIntosh each had hat tricks for the victorious Burrards while Mike Mallory had 2 goals and 1 assist. Matt MacLeod had 3 assists to earn third star honours while Frankie Scigliano with 43 saves was the game’s first star.
So the Burrards have a 3-2 lead in the series and the series moves back to Maple Ridge for game 6 on Friday. A win for the Burrards will send them to the Mann Cup to face an as yet-undetermined opponent in Ontario while a Shamrocks win will send both teams back to the Q Centre for game 7 on Sunday. Been there, done that. Game time for both those contests is 6:00 pm.
Incidentally, out in Ontario the Peterborough Lakers have a 3-2 series lead against the Six Nations Chiefs with game 6 scheduled for Thursday at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.