After what can only be termed a lackluster performance in game 3 of their semi final series against the Burnaby Lakers, a game which they lost 13-4, they bounced back with a character win at home in game 4. Despite falling behind early, the Rocks held a 3-2 lead after the first period, saw the Lakers tie things 7-7 by the end of the second but gutted out the third period for a 12-10 decision.
Starting goaltenders were the same as in all previous games, Eric Penney for the Lakers and Aaron Bold for the Rocks. Just 38 seconds into the opening period, on the Lakers’ first shot, Robert Church found the back of the net from outside the dotted line. Both teams battened down the hatches until the 10:24 mark when Eli McLaughlin made it 2-0 for the visitors, getting in close and cutting in front of the net. Joe Resetarits brought the rather smaller crowd to its collective feet, finishing a series of quick passes to put the ball behind Penney at 11:16. At 12:54 big defender Steve Priolo went to the net and got the score knotted at 2. Chris Wardle gave the home team the lead at 14:26 going to the net, that tally coming shorthanded and ending the first period scoring as the Rocks took a 3-2 lead to the dressing room.
The Shamrocks had some momentum, scoring the first 3 goals of the middle frame, starting with Casey Jackson’s tally at 3:06 on a quick stick right in front. Just 9 seconds later, Sheldon Burns found twine with a shovel shot in close. Resetarits picked up his second of the contest at 6:31 with a 30-second clock buzzer beater from the dotted line and suddenly the Rocks were up 6-2. Burnaby has a good team and they responded with 3 goals of their own. McLaughlin picked up his second at 7:24 from the dotted line with a crowd in front of the net. Matt Spanger got a rare goal on a transition run at 9:52 and at 10:50 Church collected his second of the game from the dotted line as the ball seemed to go in off Bold’s leg. Now it was a 1-goal game. Big Mike Triolo regained the 2-goal lead at 13:15 but before the period ended, Burnaby’s Josh Byrne scored twice, an unassisted goal at 14:20 as he walked around the defense and again at 14:34 from the dotted line, that goal coming on the power play. Nothing settled after 40 minutes and a big third period coming up for both teams.
Burnaby took the lead at 2:26, McLaughlin getting his hat trick goal in close. The Rocks were not going to let the Lakers have this game in their house and Evan Messenger tied things up at 6:31, going to the net. Jackson picked up his second for the Rocks at 8:11 to regain the lead with a hard shot from outside the dotted line. Corey Small has had trouble finding the net despite contributing with several assists but he found the back of the net at 12:42 with a bouncer from the dotted line after a great penalty kill from his teammates. Burnaby got within a goal again at 15:35, Church getting his third, unassisted from in close. Cue Resetarits as he connected with his hat trick goal at 16:38, walking around a defender to put the home team up again by a pair, that goal coming with the goalie on the bench for the extra attacker. Nobody was leaving this game early. Church connected for his fourth at 18:48 and it was nail-biting time for most of the fans. With time running down, Steve Priolo ran the floor and scored at 19:34. But wait! Although the on-floor official signaled a goal and the scorekeeper put it up on the board, with the Lakers whining and pleading, the goal came off the board. Who knew the referee had not blown play in!?? But they did allow the play to go all the way down the floor. Not to worry, Junior ‘A’ Shamrocks call-up Danny Smith got the ball in his own end, twisted and turned around a few guys in his way, took the ball the length of the floor and put it into the empty net at 19:45. Not sure what Burnaby was complaining about after that but the 12-10 lead held up.
Joe Resetarits, who has been one of the more consistent forwards in Victoria’s line-up, led the attack with 3 goals and 5 assists and earned first star honours. Casey Jackson had a pair of goals and 3 helpers while Corey Small had a 6-point night with a goal and 5 assists. Steve Priolo had a goal and 2 assists from his defender’s position and was named the game’s third star. Other goals came from Sheldon Burns, Chris Wardle, Evan Messenger and Danny Smith, his first ever WLA goal as a call-up. With Tyler Burton missing from the line-up Josh Fagan was proficient in the face-off circle winning 13 of 23. Aaron Bold kicked out 41 of the 51 shots he faced to collect the win.
For Burnaby, Robert Church led the attack with 4 goals and 1 helper but Josh Byrne earned second star honours with 2 goals and 4 assists. Eli McLaughlin had the hat trick with Matt Spanger the only other Laker to find the back of the net.
The series moves back to the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby for game 5 Friday. A Victoria win will move them into the league final against either Maple Ridge or New Westminster. A Burnaby victory will send the teams back to the Q Centre on Sunday, August 13 for game 6. All games in the series are 6:00 pm starts.
In the other WLA series, Maple Ridge leads 2-1 with game 4 in New Westminster Thursday.