The playoff picture in the Western Lacrosse Association greatly solidified Friday night as the Victoria Shamrocks clinched a spot and the Burnaby Lakers virtually assured themselves of making the postseason, albeit it very different fashions over a pair of teams fighting for the last spot. The Shamrocks dumped the New Westminster Salmonbellies 15-6 to leave the Bellies in fifth spot, one point behind the Maple Ridge Burrards. The Burrards scored 3 goals in the last minute of their game in Burnaby but it wasn’t quite enough as the Lakers held on for a 10-9 win.
Victoria now sits in second place with 20 points, two behind Langley, while the Lakers have 18. Burnaby’s win gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker over Maple Ridge, who is in fourth place with 14 points and two games remaining. The one wrinkle that makes things a little unclear is that Coquitlam has 11 points with four games remaining and could theoretically create a three-way tie for fourth. That scenario would take a highly unlikely series of events to unfold but is still possible.
Burnaby led 7-3 after two periods and Justin Salt’s second goal of the game gave them a 10-6 lead with just 3:07 to play, so they looked to be in good shape. Then Scott Rouse put the Burrards on the power play by instigating a fight with Kevin Reid with 1:22 to play and Maple Ridge went to work. Curtis Dickson and Jarrett Davis took advantage of the extra man with goals 25 seconds apart and suddenly the Lakers weren’t breathing quite so easily.
Twenty seconds after Davis’ goal and with just 15 seconds remaining, Dickson added his fourth of the game to make it 10-9. That was all they Burrards could manage, though, and the Lakers pulled out the win.
In Victoria, the Shamrocks have been struggling lately, but they showed no signs of it against the Bellies. “We only had the three games left and, let’s face it, we weren’t playing our best lacrosse,” Victoria GM Chris Welch told the Times-Colonist. “With playoffs right around the corner we had to step it up. Tonight was a big game and the guys responded.”
The Shamrocks scored 4, 6 and 5 goals while giving up only 2 in each period as they got back on track after a back to back losses. Karsen Leung had a hat trick and an assist for the Shamrocks while five other players scored twice each, including Cory Conway, who added 6 assists for a game-high 8 points.
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