After a resounding 11-5 victory on home floor Sunday, the Shamrocks headed for the mainland looking to take the series lead in game 3 of their best-of-seven WLA final series against the New Westminster Salmonbellies. What they got was a rude awakening as they dropped a 14-4 game, giving the ‘Bellies a 2-1 lead.
Starting goaltenders were Alexis Buque and Aaron Bold for New West and Victoria respectively. New Westminster got on the board first when Logan Schuss tallied at 7:55, converting a quick pass from in close. Casey Jackson replied for the Rocks at 9:53 with a quick stick from the side of the crease. That was the only goal Victoria would score until the 14:08 mark of the final period as the game became the Shuss Show. Schuss added the next two New West goals, at 11:20 and 12:19 and Mike Messenger, cousin of Victoria’s Evan, fired a shot from end-to-end into an empty net at 19:58 with Aaron Bold not able to get back between the pipes. Shots on goal were 28-19 for Victoria, including 7 shots on the only power play in the period but all of which were coming from well out and Buque was up to the task.
The second period saw the Salmonbellies score 5 unanswered goals to take a 9-1 lead after 40 minutes. Two of those came with the man advantage and included two more from Schuss and also a pair from Kevin Crowley, Connor Robinson had the other. Again Victoria held the edge in shots by a 17-15 margin but were unable to put anything past Buque.
The Shamrocks made a goaltending change in the final period, giving Cody Hagedorn some valuable playing time but Victoria’s penalty problems continued, assisted by a mainland officiating crew, as New Westminster scored 4 straight goals with the man advantage to go up by a 13-1 score by the 10:35 mark. Victoria finally stopped the bleeding when Jackson collected his second of the game, getting in close with a quick stick at 14:08. Just 48 seconds later the aforementioned Evan Messenger tallied from outside the dotted line with the teams playing 4-on-4. Joe Resetarits added another Shamrocks’ goal at 16:02, an unassisted goal beating the 30-second buzzer with a bouncer from outside the dotted line. Another power play goal from the ‘Bellies Mitch Jones rounded out the scoring at 17:07 as the game deteriorated into a party in the penalty box. Final shots on goal were 58 to 50 for Victoria.
Casey Jackson had a pair of goals for the Shamrocks with Joe Resetarits and Evan Messenger adding singles. Victoria was assessed 42 minutes in penalties resulting in 7 power play goals on 10 opportunities for the Salmonbellies who were called for only 9 minor infractions in the game. The energy and tenacity of young Danny Smith appeared to have been missed as he has returned to school.
As Victoria did in game 2 New Westminster swept the 3 stars in game 3. It was Alexis Buque, Logan Schuss and Kevin Crowley going 1-2-3. Schuss finished the game with 6 goals and 3 assists while Crowley added the hat trick and 5 helpers. Mitch Jones who had been held in cheque broke out with a pair of goals and 4 helpers.
Game 4 is back at the Q Centre on Friday, August 25. Game time is 6:00 pm and the Rocks will be hoping for the same great crowd support they’ve enjoyed all season and those fans will be hoping for a better effort and result also.
For fans interested in who might provide the Mann Cup opposition for whoever wins the WLA championship, Peterborough won game 1 of their series against the Six Nations Chiefs, 10-7 also on Tuesday.