Thursday at Queen’s Park Arena the Victoria Shamrocks faced off against the New Westminster Salmonbellies, the Rocks looking to even the season series against the Bellies after dropping a 9-8 decision earlier at home.

It was not a game for the goaltenders, at least in the first 20 minutes that saw 9 goals in the first 6:12 of the game.  The period eventually finished with the Shamrocks holding a 7-5 lead. Starting goaltenders were Cody Hagedorn for the Shamrocks and Alexis Buque for the ‘Bellies and it was the home team opening the scoring a 1:25, Logan Schuss scoring from outside the dotted line.

Victoria replied with a pair, Casey Jackson tallying at 1:49 with a hard overhand shot and Jesse King following up at 2:39 with a hard bouncer from outside the dotted line. New West drew even with a power play marker from Jordan McBride at 4:19 after several shots and saves by Hagedorn.  The Rocks regained the lead just 23 seconds later, Alec Molander, diving across to beat Buque. The home team tied things up with Shuss’ second of the night at 5:02 as he was unmolested at the dotted line. Once again the teams traded goals, Rhys Duch tallying for Vicoria at 5:32 in close and late in the 30-second clock but 19 seconds later Brendan Ranford drew the home team even with a give-and-go in close.

Cue the Shamrocks to pull ahead, Tyson Gibson getting in close at 6:12 only to have the ‘Bellies tie the score at 4 with Mitch Jones’ goal at 11:59 on the power play with a quick stick from the side of the crease. Despite being at a manpower advantage on a 5-minute penalty to McCullough, Victoria picked up a shorthanded marker at 12:29 off the stick of Duch, cutting to the net. They added another before the end of the period, King getting his second at 18:05 with an extra attacker on the floor on a delayed penalty call.  It was the Rocks holding a 7-5 lead on the board despite being outshot 28-19.

The Salmonbellies again got the early start in the middle frame, Ranford getting his second at 4:25 and Mitch Jones added a power play marker at 6:10, that goal coming with a 5-on-3 advantage to tie the score at 7.  They added another power play goal to take the lead at 7:15, Jones again doing the damage late in the 30-second clock. A 5-minute penalty to New West’s Jakob Doucet gave the Rocks a chance and they didn’t waste it, scoring a pair of power play goals of their own.  First it was Jackson getting his second of the night at 13:54 with a hard, low shot from the dotted line to knot the score at 8 and then Gibson picked up his second at 16:32 with a quick stick in close. That allowed the Shamrocks to hold the lead going into the intermission, albeit by a single goal, 9-8 setting up a great third period.

The Shamrocks scored first in the final period, Gibson getting his hat trick marker just 23 seconds in, getting in close to regain a 2-goal lead.  It was very short-lived as Anthony Malcolm got the ‘Bellies within a goal at 5:29. The teams traded goals, Victoria’s Steve Priolo scoring a shorthanded marker at 8:24 after some great loose ball pursuit by Mack Mitchell.  Just 28 seconds later, Mitch Jones replied with a power play goal with a high, hard shot. Victoria’s power play cashed in on Duch’s third goal of the game at 13:25 to make it 12-10 but Schuss replied for the home team at 13:46, getting in all alone.  Despite chances by both teams late in the period, no goals were added resulting in the 12-11 victory for the Shamrocks and the first loss of the season for the Salmonbellies.

Rhys Duch and Tyson Gibson led the Rocks’ offense with a hat trick each and 3 and 1 assist respectively, Gibson being named the game’s first star.  Jesse King chipped in 2 goals and 3 helpers, Casey Jackson had a pair of each while Chris Wardle had 6 helpers. Other goals came from Alec Molander and Steve Priolo.  Cody Hagedorn kicked aside 48 of the 59 shots he faced.

For the Salmonbellies it was Mitch Jones with 4 goals and 2 assists, Logan Schuss with the hat trick and 4 helpers and Jordan McBride with a goal and 5 assists.

The result moves the Shamrocks into a second-place tie with the Maple Ridge Burrards, 2 points behind the league-leading Salmonbellies.  They will be right back at it as the Burrards make a visit to the Q Centre Friday at 7:30 to take on the Rocks. It will be Alumni Night at the arena with a pre-game tailgate party and the #26 jersey of Kevin Alexander, one of the best to ever play the game, being retired and raised to the rafters.