Victoria – After splitting last weekend’s road set, the Victoria Shamrocks sit atop the Western Lacrosse Association standings. Victoria is four points clear of both Maple Ridge and Burnaby, but by the time this weekend plays out, most teams will have a game in hand on them. The ‘Rocks are 5-1 after falling in Coquitlam last Saturday, then rebounding to defeat Maple Ridge on Sunday.
Saturday’s game was the second of a home and home between the Shamrocks and Adanacs, and after Victoria defended their home floor a week prior, Coquitlam did the same. Victoria showed resilience, clawing their way back into the game, and shutting out the Adanacs in the third period, but falling 7-6. The last meeting between the Salmonbellies and Shamrocks was a defensive battle, finishing 5-4 in favour of the visiting ‘Rocks. Victoria shut out New Westminster 4-0 in the second period before the Salmonbellies responded outscoring Victoria 2-0 in the third, but they could not crack Cody Hagedorn for that tying goal. Both Sheldon Burns and Tristan Rai scored their first WLA goals in the win, and Chris Wardle had the game winner. Hagedorn stopped forty-five of forty-nine in the win. Speaking of the men with the big pads, Victoria has a pair of familiar names back with the team after the conclusion of the NLL Final. Aaron Bold is back in Victoria and making his debut tonight after leading the Saskatchewan Rush to a third straight NLL Final. Victoria’s third goaltender Adam Shute was a member of the Champions Cup winning Georgia Swarm.
The Shamrocks have played well at both ends early in the season, they score the second most goals per game (9.67) and allow the least (7.00), good for a differential of +2.67, the best in the league. They also have the league’s leading scorer in Corey Small with 13 goals, 19 assists for 32 points in six games. Victoria also gets a scoring boost from the back end as 2015 Shamrock Tyler Hass returns for his sixth season in Victoria and is making his season debut. Hass brings experience, speed and strength along with his offensive punch, in 111 games, including regular season and playoffs, he has totalled 104 points. Hass was also awarded the Bill Ellison trophy in 2014 as the MVP of the WLA playoffs.
New Westminster Salmonbellies scouting report
If the first meeting between these teams was any indication, lacrosse fans are in for a treat. Both teams play fast, disciplined lacrosse, and take lots of shots. New Westminster is taking just under fifty shots per game and allowing just over forty. They don’t take many penalties and when they do, their penalty kill efficiency is 83%, where the league average is 68%. The Salmonbellies do not have anyone in the WLA top ten in scoring (Victoria has three Small, Triolo, Nass), but they spread the points around with four players between spots eleven through seventeen. Mitch Jones and Logan Schuss lead the team with fifteen points each, Schuss doing so in just three games. Alexis Buque has been strong in the Salmonbellies crease although his record doesn’t show it. He has started two games, allowing four goals on forty-three shots in a win, and the teams previous meeting, where he stopped thirty-four of thirty-nine.