ike the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, the Bulls and Knicks, or the Yankees and everybody else, there is no love lost between the Victoria Shamrocks and Maple Ridge Burrards. The two will meet for the second consecutive year in the WLA Finals starting Friday, August 16th right here in Victoria as the Shamrocks look to return to the Mann Cup.

Victoria finished the regular season in first place and handily swept the Nanaimo Timbermen in the first round of the playoffs; Maple Ridge tied Victoria for points at the end of the regular season but was at a slight disadvantage in the head-to-head matchup, putting them in second place. They prevailed against the New Westminster Salmonbellies in six games to advance to this final round of the WLA playoffs.

The Shamrocks will be looking to play to their strengths and get off to a strong start early, particularly on the face-off. During the first round, Tyler Burton dominated the dot winning 67 of 79 face-offs, while Maple Ridge took a few games to settle into Reece Cailles as their face-off man, winning 36 of 75 in the last four games of their series against the Salmonbellies.

On offence, both teams are deep on the front end with Tyler Pace (15 points in the first round), Jesse King (15), Chris Boushy (12), and Connor Robinson (11) leading the charge. The Shamrocks’ defence will be looking to keep Dane Dobbie (26), Curtis Dickson (21), Ryan Keenan (20), Dan Taylor (12), and Ben McIntosh (12) away from the crease.

Speaking of the crease, the Shamrocks have relied on Pete Dubenski in their last four games, where he put up a league-leading 5.78 goals-against average, and .879 save percentage. Projected starting goaltender for the Burrards, Frank Scigliano, is going into the finals with an 8.46 goals-against average, and .841 save rate, which was right behind Dubenski in goalie rankings. Both ‘tenders have exceptionally talented teammates to platoon with Cody Hagedorn for the Shamrocks and Christian Del Bianco for the Burrards.

From the top of the roster down, it’s clear that this will be hard-fought series with both teams exceptionally evenly matched. It will be up to head coaches Bob Heyes and Rob Williams to keep their squads focused and in the game from the first minute until the last.

Game #1 goes in Victoria on Friday, August 16th at 7:00 pm. The series continues in Maple Ridge on Sunday, August 18th at 6:00 pm, Victoria on Tuesday, August 20th at 6:30 pm, and back in Maple Ridge on Friday, August 23rd at 6:30 pm.