The Victoria Shamrocks certainly did not end the season as they’d hoped nor the way they started it. Beginning with 4 straight wins, they finished the season with 3 straight losses, dropping them to 4th place in the standings and earning them a first round semi final match-up with the first place team, whichever it might be.
The Rocks travelled to New Westminster Thursday and, after taking a 4-3 first period lead, gave up 16 over the final 40 minutes while scoring just 4 to drop a 19-8 game. That was the most goals given up by the Rocks all season. While they got a 3-goal performance from Joe Resetarits, the other offense came from ‘d’ guys like Steve Priolo with a pair and Tyler Hass. Aaron Bold gave up 12 goals on 50 shots before giving way to Cody Hagedorn. The win was New Westminster’s 5th to end their regular season.
Back home at the Q Centre Friday, the Shamrocks faced the Burnaby Lakers and were looking for a bounce back game. It didn’t happen as the Rocks found themselves down 5-1 after the first. They had a ‘bounce back’ period in the second, outscoring the visitors 5-4 but penalty trouble killed them in the third to give the Lakers a 14-8 win when the dust settled.
Friday, Aaron Bold got the start for Victoria and Eric Penney was between the pipes for the Lakers. Burnaby scored 3 goals before the game was 5 minutes old. Robert Church tallied before the crowd was seated after the national anthem, with a hard shot from outside the dotted line at the 19-second mark. At 4:13, Jason Jones made it 2-0 again from well out and just 38 seconds later Eli McLaughlin had the visitors up 3-0 with a bullet from outside the dotted line. Victoria got one back, Corey Small scoring at 10:46 from outside the dotted line but the Lakers added 2 more before the period ended, McLaughlin getting his second at 11:29 from outside the dotted line and Brendan Rouse getting a short handed marker unassisted at 17:10 picking up a loose ball and scampering in. Shots on goal were 18-15 for Burnaby and they had the 5-1 lead on the scoreboard.
The Lakers opened the scoring in period two, Scott Jones scoring 1:31 in with a hard shot from the dotted line (detecting a pattern here) but at 1:57 Victoria’s Evan Messenger answered the bell going to the net. McLaughlin picked up his hat trick goal at 4:02 with an extra attacker on and a delayed penalty about to be called, beating Bold with a quick stick from the side. That was the end of Bold’s night as he was replaced by Adam Shute. It was Shute’s first real action since returning to the team after the NLL season, having seen only 1:18 between the pipes to that point this season. Burnaby scored to take an 8-2 lead at 7:43, Jason Jones getting his second on a shot that may have been screened. The Shamrocks seemed to wake up as they rattled off 4 straight to get back into the contest, beginning with a power play goal from the stick of Casey Jackson at 12:15, a hard low shot from outside the dotted line. Another power play goal from Messenger at 12:39 on a quick stick from the side of the net got the Rocks within 4. Joe Resetarits added a goal at 14:06 with the extra attacker on the floor and a delayed penalty about to be called on a 30-second shot clock buzzer beater from the side of the net. A couple of those unsung heroes, Tyler Hass and Tyler Burton combined on a transition break to get the Rocks within a pair, Burton pulling the string in close at 15:54. Before the period ended, Burnaby restored a 3-goal lead, Josh Byrne tallying at 16:28 on a play that may have been in the crease. That was how the middle frame ended, 9-6 for the visitors but Victoria leading 38-32 in shots on goal.
Unfortunately, in a game where very few penalties were called, the Shamrocks took 3 within a couple of minutes, one of them a 5-minute major. Burnaby capitalized on the power plays, scoring 3 goals with the 5-on-3 advantage, two by Dane Stevens and one more from Jason Jones before Rhys Duch replied for the Shamrocks at 10:37 with a bullet from the dotted line, that goal coming shorthanded. Burnaby got two more, one from Church and another into the empty net by Rouse at 14:02 as Victoria tried pulling the goaltender. Corey Small managed his second of the night at 19:48 but that was all they could muster as they fell 14-8.
Evan Messenger and Corey Small each had a pair of goals for the Shamrocks with Small adding 3 assists. Other goals came from Rhys Duch, Tyler Burton, Joe Resetarits, and Casey Jackson who added 3 helpers. The Rocks got some added hustle from Junior ‘A’ Shamrocks Danny Smith and Brad McCulley, the latter getting an assist.
The result leaves the Shamrocks in 4th place which is where they will finish. While Burnaby is tied in points, they have 2 games remaining in their season and would hold the tie-breaker in head-to-head play with 2 wins and a loss. Everything else as far as placement goes is still up in the air. Should Burnaby win their two remaining games, they would finish first, regardless what Maple Ridge does in their final game. Right now, New Westminster sits in first place with 23 points and their season complete, Maple Ridge is next with 22 and 1 game remaining, Burnaby and Victoria are tied with 21 points with Burnaby having 2 games left and Victoria’s season finished.
Playoff dates have been set and the first round dates are August 3, 5, 7, 9 with the first and third games being played in the home rink of the teams finishing first and second. All start times for the first round are 6:00 pm so plan to show up at the Q Centre on August 5 to see the Rocks face someone in game 2 of their series.