It was a big game at the Q Centre Friday night. Not only was second place on the line but the Shamrocks were coming off a road loss Wednesday to the Langley Thunder. The Rocks made good on home floor, knocking off the visiting Maple Ridge Burrards 12-5 to leap past them into second place in the standings, still 4 points behind the league-leading New Westminster Salmonbellies with 24 points.
The Burrards were late due to a ferry miscommunication but made it in time to get the regulation warm-up. Adam Shute got the start in goal for Victoria but, with Frankie Scigliano not dressed, it was Brandon Humphrey between the pipes for the visitors. Victoria opened the scoring at 1:46, Derek Lloyd getting a break off transition to get in alone with an unassisted goal. Maple Ridge replied at 2:16 also getting in close, Chase McIntyre tallying to tie the score. Victoria rattled off a pair, the first coming from Casey Jackson at 3:41 from outside the dotted line and the second at 9:12 from Adam Golia with a hard, low shot from the dotted line. Maple Ridge got within a goal at 11:01 when Kyle Marr took a shot that Shute got a piece of but couldn’t quite corral. Josh Fagan restored Victoria’s 2-goal lead at 12:16, going to the net but just over a minute later, McIntyre picked up his second for the Burrards on what looked like a roller from the dotted line. Shots on goal were 19-14 for Victoria and they had the slim 4-3 lead on the scoreboard. Only 2 penalties were called in the period which is odd when these teams get together but they were off-setting major penalties for fighting with Kevin Reid and Victoria’s Ben McCullough tangling.
The Shamrocks seemed charged up coming into the middle frame as they scored 3 straight to open up a 4-goal lead. First it was Tyson Gibson scoring at 4:14 with a quick stick from the side of the crease. Jesse King added another just 24 seconds later and Jackson picked up his second of the game at 9:12 before Maple Ridge once again found the back of the net. They got a pair of goals from Mike Mallory, the first at 11:26 from outside the dotted line and the second at 14:45 on a bouncer off the post. Victoria added one before the period ended, Jackson getting his hat trick marker at 18:59 with a quick stick from the side of the crease. Again just a pair of penalties was called in the period and it made an early night for Maple Ridge’s Kevin Reid for a second major fighting penalty in the game. This time his opponent was Greg Harnett. Shots on goal were again in Victoria’s favour, 26-14 for a 2-period total of 45-28.
The third period was all Shamrocks as they scored 4 unanswered goals. Gibson picked up his second of the contest at 2:38 with a shot to the top corner and made it a hat trick at 11:08 with a quick stick in close. Rob Hellyer added a shorthanded marker at 13:28, getting on a run and a couple of those hard-working defenders got together at 17:47 with Zac Christianson scoring on an assist from team captain Matt Yager. Victoria outshot the visitors 16-10 in the final frame making a game total of 61-38, a very busy night for Maple Ridge’s Humphrey.
The Shamrocks swept the 3 stars with Casey Jackson (3 goals and 4 assists), Tyson Gibson (3 of each) and Rob Hillyer (1 goal and 4 helpers) going 1-2-3. Jesse King chipped in a goal and 2 assists with singles coming from Derek Lloyd, Adam Golia, Zac Christianson and Josh Fagan.
There will be no time to enjoy the win as the Shamrocks are back in action Saturday in Coquitlam before finishing up with a pair of home games next weekend. They will take on Coquitlam Friday, July 27 at 7:30 and wrap up the season against New Westminster on Sunday, July 29 before heading into playoffs.
While it is fairly certain it will be New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Victoria and Nanaimo in the post season, actual rankings have yet to be determined. Nanaimo needs just 1 point in its final 3 games to clinch a spot with Burnaby having an outside chance of catching them. Maple Ridge has just 1 game remaining in their regular season, will not be able to catch New Westminster and could finish as low as fourth. Victoria is still in the hunt for first but will need some help.