The winds of change don’t like to stay long out west. Well actually they just never stop blowing so it seems like they’ve left after three weeks of Western Lacrosse Association action. Victoria stays atop the WLA Power Rankings but could’ve dropped a few spots just as the Burrards could have moved even higher had the Bellies not put their foot down. But in 2013 that’s just the way it goes out west. Former Victoria Shamrocks’ player Andrew Suitor, who’s sitting out this year rehabbing an NLL knee injury, went to twitter to give his two cents about the play out west: “@Suits20: Love how competitive the WLA is this year! high intensity and you can be held accountable! Figure it out ola! Leave our game alone #union?”
Now that’s not to say there isn’t some excellent ball being played out East, cause there is, but every game out west is a dog fight and not even a coin toss would decide things. Winning streaks came to an end while some were started but it all means that each game is as competitive as the last and the next one will be even better.
1- Victoria Shamrocks (1) 5-1
Last Week: L13-10 Maple Ridge, W8-7 Nanaimo
This Week: @ Burnaby
Even though they would have liked to, there wasn’t much chance the Shamrocks were going to go undefeated in 2013. After running out to a 4-0 start, the Rocks dropped their first game of the year Sunday to the red-hot Burrards. Wake up call or not, the Shamrocks will remember that having the better line-up on paper won’t give them the win. They were in tough again Wednesday when Scott Ranger poured salt in the wound of his former team. Ranger scored the game-winner with a minute left, giving the Rocks an 8-7 win over Nanaimo. Josh Phillips got his first start of the year and looked solid between the pipes but with only a couple weeks until Matt Vinc arrives, it might be his only start of the summer.
2- Maple Ridge (3) 4-2
Last Week: W13-10 Victoria, L10-8 New West.
This Week: vs. New West
The Maple Ridge Burrards haven’t been this high in the standings this late in the season in quite some time. Ever actually. After rattling off four straight Ws they came crashing back down to earth against New West Thursday night, although they did show a ton of heart battling back to make the score a little more respectable. But it was a night-and-day performance between their win over Victoria and Thursday’s loss to the Bellies. Curtis Dickson has enough goals alone to sit 5th in WLA scoring but he’s now starting to get some help from the other guys on the floor and when Benny Big Bucket, Ben MacIntosh, makes his WLA debut he’ll get even more help. A return engagement with the fish at home will show us how much the Burrards learned about themselves last week.
3- New Westminster (4) 3-2
Last Week: W10-8 Maple Ridge
This Week: @ Coquitlam, @ Maple Ridge, vs. Burnaby
How good is the Bellies youth core? Their three prized rookies are in the top ten of team scoring. Keegan Bal (16pts), Logan Schuss (15pts), and Jeff Cornwall (6pts) have had immediate impacts in 2013. All the hype around Schuss is on display as he recorded his first WLA hat-trick vs Maple Ridge. Cornwall is using his NLL experience to become one of New West’s best two way defenders but the play of Bal could be what has HC Goodwin smiling ear to ear. Bal coming off a great year at Lake Erie College is showing a poise and floor vision many didn’t think he had. Neil Tyacke has been the go to guy in net so far this year as Tyler Richards still has yet to get a start but the way Yak is playing, there’s no real rush.
4- Langley Thunder (2) 3-2
Last Week: L9-8 Burnaby
This Week: vs Nanaimo
So who becomes the more important loss for the Thunder in the early part of the season; Rod Jensen or Lewis Ratcliff? It’s still early and while Rat was a key offensive weapon for the back-to-back WLA kings, not having Jensen behind the bench may be more imperative than at first thought. Jensen continues to sit out due to his CLA imposed suspension stemming from last year’s Mann Cup debacle and while Fred Klump and company know the game plan and personnel, sometimes not having the pilot of the plane can be crucial. Look at the season the Stealth has two years ago when Chris Hall was out for cancer treatments…. We’re not saying the Thunder will finish dead last but at this early part of the season, they’re going to need their veteran core to start to assert themselves.
5-Coquitlam (7) 1-4
Last Week: W18-7 Nanaimo
This Week: vs New West
Hanging 18 on the Timbermen might be the best thing that every happened the Adanacs. After struggling to start the season, the A’s exploded for the most goals by any team in one game this season. Dane Dobbie had his usually solid eight point night but it was the Jesse Guerin and Marty Dinsdale that made everyone take notice. Guerin transferred west from Peterborough this summer and has fit in well so far but his nine point gem is exactly why he was brought out. Dinsdale is known for putting up big numbers in purple and mustard but this was his best Sr game to date. Adam Shute continues to be a wall in net and now that Nick Rose is back practicing the A’s can get back to shutting teams down and winning dirty grimy one goal defensive slugfests.
6- Burnaby (6) 1-3
Last Week: W9-8 Langley
This Week: vs. Victoria, @ Nanaimo, @ New West
An old lacrosse coach used to say if you can win the 7-6, 9-8 ball games you’ll be a better team than if you blow the other team out every game. The Classic 9-8 game was just what the Burnaby Lakers needed to get rookie HC Rory McDade his first WLA win as a coach and their first win of the season. The Lakers aren’t flashy nor full of high priced fly-ins or NLL All starts. They’re built with gritty, hard-nosed role players who have bought into the the system and it’s starting to pay off. Tyler Digby played his first summer game in a couple years and while he didn’t tally any points, he adds another versatile stick to the offence that moves the ball extremely well. A busy week ahead will be a major test to see where they stand in the west.
7-Nanaimo (5) 1-4
Last Week: L18-7 Coquitlam, L8-7 Victoria
This Week: vs. Burnaby, @ Langley
Their 8-7 loss to the high-powered Shamrocks should show the Tmen that they can hang with the big dogs in the WLA. Much like Burnaby, they don’t posses many big names but they play an in-your-face unrelenting style of lacrosse that wears on teams. Zach Boychuk had another impressive game in net and if it wasn’t for his formate team-mate Ranger, he may have stolen that game from Victoria. A couple wins here and there would give the Tmen some confidence as we move into the middle part of the season and give them some hope as we push to the post-season.
Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.
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