It was game 3 in the season series between island rivals, the Nanaimo Timbermen and the Victoria Shamrocks as the Rocks travelled to Frank Crane Arena Saturday. With a 10-7 victory, the Shamrocks swept the series and vaulted over the idle Maple Ridge Burrards into first place in the WLA standings. The game was hard-fought with Victoria leading 5-4 after the first, only to see the T’Men tie things at 6-6 after 40 minutes but exploded for 4 in the final frame before Nanaimo managed a goal in the dying seconds.
Starting goaltenders were Aaron Bold for the Shamrocks, getting his second consecutive start while Mike DeGirolamo got the call at the Nanaimo end of the floor. The Rocks opened scoring at 3:24, Joe Resetarits scoring with a quick stick inside the dotted line. Nanaimo tied the score at 4:01, Jake Cullen letting go a bouncer from outside the dotted line and took a 2-1 lead at 7:59 with Dan Michel’s goal as he got in close. Josh Fagan tallied for the Shamrocks at 9:22 from the dotted line to knot the score at 2 but once again the home team took the lead, Chase Fraser using speed on transition and taking a long lead pass from Jordan Cunningham to beat Bold at 12:59. Victoria got on a bit of a roll, scoring 3 straight in a span of 35 seconds beginning at 17:05 with Resetarits picking up his second, unassisted, diving across in front of the crease. Paul Brebber got in alone off the ensuing faceoff to make it 4-3 Victoria at 17:13 and at 17:40 Casey Jackson opened up a 2-goal Victoria lead getting in close. Before the period ended, in fact just 32 seconds later, Jon Phillips got the Timbermen within a goal and that’s how the period ended, with the Shamrocks holding a 5-4 lead on the scoreboard and outshooting the home team 25-18. The period was actually suspended for about 10 minutes after glass in the penalty box broke so the teams did not take an intermission after the end of the period but went right into the second.
The middle frame saw just 3 goals scored, 2 for Nanaimo including the opener, a power play goal at 7:49 from Quinn Smith as Nanaimo forced a loose ball and took it on a run. Victoria replied at 10:53, Corey Small tallying with a hard, low shot after a great Shamrocks penalty kill. The T’Men got things even at the 13:30 mark, Phillips getting his second of the night with a hard shot from outside the dotted line. Nanaimo had the edge in shots on goal 19-15 in the period and had evened things up on the scoreboard going into the dressing room.
The Rocks dominated the third period offensively, scoring 4 straight to put some distance between the teams. It started early with Small’s second just 29 seconds in with a hard overhand shot from the dotted line. He added his hat trick marker at 12:18 after Paul Brebber got the ball down the floor on transition. Chris Wardle made it 9-6 Shamrocks at 13:42, cutting to the net and an unassisted goal from Victoria’s Sheldon Burns into an empty net at 17:10 pretty much put the game away. Nanaimo continued to press and it resulted in a goal at 19:50 off the stick of Jake Cullen, his second of the game on a bouncer from outside the dotted line. Final shots on goal were 60-55 for Victoria and they had the 10-7 victory.
Corey Small led Victoria’s offense with the hat trick and 3 helpers to be named first star of the game. Joe Resetarits added 2 goals and 2 assists with Casey Jackson chipping in a goal and 4 assists. Other goals came from Sheldon Burns, Chris Wardle, Josh Fagan and Paul Brebber. Aaron Bold was named the third star with his counterpart at the other end of the floor, Mike DeGirolamo taking second star honours.
It was a game that at times lacked fluency as players returning from injury or newly-acquired become accustomed to one another but it was another game where the Shamrocks played with intensity, something that will be required come playoff time.
The Shamrocks now sit with 21 points one point ahead of the Maple Ridge Burrards who hold a game in hand. Third place is held down by the Burnaby Lakers with 17 followed by the New Westminster Salmonbellies with 15. In other Saturday action the Coquitlam Adanacs defeated the Langley Thunder 10-8 to move the Adanacs into 5th place with 10 points, one ahead of Nanaimo. Langley sits in the basement with 6 points.
Next action for the Shamrocks is next Friday when they travel to Burnaby to take on the Lakers, another important game as the season comes to a close. Next home game is Friday, July 28 when those Lakers will visit the Q Centre for the final regular season home game and fan appreciation night.