The Western Lacrosse Association’s Vancouver Island rivalry kicks off its 2017 chapter Sunday as the Victoria Shamrocks visit the Nanaimo Timbermen at Frank Crane Arena. Both teams come in on one full day’s rest, Victoria tied New Westminster in a high-scoring thriller in Victoria, while Nanaimo took down Maple Ridge at home.
Victoria sits three points clear of second place Burnaby in the league standings after claiming a single point Friday, while Nanaimo sits in a tie for fourth. The Timbermen are five hundred through their first six games, going 2-1 on their home floor. Victoria won 2 away from The Q Centre, picking up wins in New Westminster and Maple Ridge.
The Shamrocks will look for another strong performance from new addition Tyler Hass. Hass forced overtime scoring his first goal of the season on a breakaway with just over two minutes remaining, tying the game at eleven. After getting the majority of Friday night off, Cody Hagedorn will be back in the Shamrocks goal. He is 5-1 on the season and stopped two of three shots vs New Westminster two nights ago.
Corey Small still holds a comfortable lead in the league’s point category, but Mike Triolo has worked his way into the top three as well. Triolo is on a four-game point streak, recording at least three points in each contest. He has also been a big catalyst to the Rocks power play, recording 11 of his 22 points a man up.
Nanaimo rode a five-goal third period to a 10-7 win Friday, defender Mason Pynn had a four-point night including three goals. Colton Clark wears number ten and leads Nanaimo in scoring with 20 points in six games. The Timbermen are one of the better defensive teams in the WLA, allowing 8.5 goals per game, the third least in the league. Nanaimo has controlled the face-off circle early in the season winning sixty-three percent of their face-offs, the best mark in the league. Leading the department is Chase Fraser, who also is tied for the team’s lead in goals with nine. Fraser is 67-36 on draws this year, good for 65%.
Two great special teams units will go head to head, as Victoria’s league-best 44% power play takes on Nanaimo’s 68% penalty kill, and while the T-men’s percentage is only fourth best in the league, they’ve scored three shorthanded goals this season, second-most in the league. Victoria’s power play has distanced itself from anyone else, scoring a league-high twenty goals on the man advantage, and doing so at more than seven percent difference than second place Langley, who has had nearly half the power play opportunities.
The Shamrocks took all three games between the teams last season, this time the task has two of the three games being played in Nanaimo, the lone meeting in the BC Capital is June 30th.