WLA Power Rankings: No changes as things get a little tighter through the middle of the pack

Things are heating up out west as everyone is fighting for a play-off spot. (Photo: Garrett James)
Things are heating up out west as everyone is fighting for a play-off spot. (Photo: Garrett James)

While the Victoria Shamrocks extend their lead in the Western Lacrosse Association standings, the Maple Ridge Burrards and the rest of the clubs try to keep pace. Just five points separates 3rd from 7th so there is still plenty to play for with only three weeks remaining in the regular season. For now though we are seeing some fantastic performances and even better lacrosse played out west.

It’s becoming very evident that no game is guaranteed in the league as we’ve seen games that should be locks go completely side-ways and others that turn into instant classics. Only two players from BC teams will represent Canada at the Wold Field Championships in Denver so it will full steam ahead for all seven clubs as we get close and closer to the post-season. Victoria has a a seven point spread over second place Maple Ridge and they don’t look like they want to give that lead up anytime soon. The question is, who’s going to be there when the dust settles on August 1st.

1- Victoria (1)- 10-1-2

Last week- W 12-6 vs Langley, W 8-5 vs Coquitlam

This week-  @ Burnnaby

The leaders got right back on track after a tough couple games last week. After suffering their first loss of the year last Saturday, the Shamrocks gained some revenge a week later versus the Adanacs on their home floor, twenty-four hours after knocking off the Thunder. Dhane Smith is starting to find his form out west picking up up seven points in the two games last week. Matt Flindell bounced back nicely picking up the win in both games. Flindell doesn’t get a lot of credit but since last year he’s sporting a record of 15-2-2. Just one game on the road this week for the Rocks who will be without Jesse King who’s representing Canada in Denver.

2- Maple Ridge (2) 7-5-1

Last week – W 10-5 vs Coquitlam

This week- vs Coquitlam

A Tuesday night clash with the Adanacs went as planned for the Burrards, who used a 5-0 middle twenty to pick up their seventh win of they year. Maple Ridge is starting to assert themselves as as the #2 club in the WLA as they now have a three point lead on Burnaby and Langley. Many thought that without Curtis Dickson (who joins King in Denver) this club wouldn’t be able to compete but having only played in three contests this year, it’s apparent that there is life without Superman. Youth, depth and balance have allowed this club to exceed expectations under first year HC Chris Gill. A re-do with Coquitlam on Tuesday again is their only action this week as they try to maintain their hold on second.

3 – Burnaby (3)- 6-5

Last week-  L 11-9 vs New Westminster

This week- @ Langley, vs Victoria

The preseason dark-horse in the WLA is lurking in the weeds however the boys form the swamp are going to need to string some wins together if they’re going to gain any ground. Tyler Richards and  Dan Lewis have both seen action between the pipes in the past few games with mixed results but the most experienced goalie tandem in the league needs to start stealing some games for this club going forward. The Burnaby offence could be the most balanced one in the league with ten players in double digits with great distribution of those points. Only seven unassisted goals all year for the Lakers means there’s plenty of ball movement going on.  A big match-up with the Thunder to start their week will decide the season series and could be a very crucial tie-breaker come season’s end.

4- Langley (4)-  6-7

Last week- L 12-6 vs Victoria, L 15-12 vs Nanaimo

This week-  vs. Burnaby

It wasn’t exactly the best of trips to the island for the Thunder. Not only did they lose back to back games but they also lost goalie Brodie MacDonald for two games. MacDonald was handed a two game ban by WLA Commissioner Casey Cook for a stick swinging incident in the Nanaimo game. Heading into a crucial game with the Lakers tonight, Mike Lowe, who’s only seen 86 minutes this year, will most likely get the call in net . Brett Baron and Tyler Melnyk have been real bright spots for Langley this year. In their first season in BC, the Calgary boys have fit in nicely and given a positive youthful injection into the club. The lone game this week is a huge one against Burnaby.

5- Coquitlam (5) 5-7

Last week- W 9-6 vs New Westminster,  L 8-5 Victoria, L 10-5 vs Maple Ridge

This week- vs Nanaimo, @ Maple Ridge

After extending their winning streak to three games, the Adanacs were brought right back down to earth by the top two teams in the west. After giving up an average of 5.3 goals per game during that heater, Coquitlam surrendered an average of 9 in losses to Victoria and Maple Ridge. However the win streak helped the Adanacs get back into the play-off picture and are now just two points back of 3rd place. After having just three players in double digits a couple of week ago, the offence has started to heat up and much of that has to do with the play of  Darryl Veltman. After missing the first four games of the year and not registering a point in his first game back, DV has racked up 24 points including 19 assists giving the Adanacs another weapon besides Brett Hickey. Two big games this week if Coquitlam wants to stay in the hunt.

6- New Westminster (6) 4-8

Last week-L 9-6 Coquitlam, W 11-9 vs Burnaby.

This week- vs Nanaimo

Coming off a six game losing streak, New Westminster has won two of three including a pair of wins over Burnaby to give them the season series.  By no means are the Fish out of things in the WLA but they can’t afford to be dropping points to the teams above them. Alexis Buque continues to get the bulk of the minutes in net over Neil Tyacke and is starting to get more and more comfortable with the speed of the senior game. GM Dan Richardson didn’t make any moves at the deadly but a few other GMs mentioned he had a player a two up on the trading block but nothing could be finalized. A win Thursday night at home could do wonders for this team that has had it’s struggles.

7 – Nanaimo (7)- 3-8-1

Last week- W 15-12 vs Langley

This week- @ New Westminster, @ Coquitlam

In his first game of the season, first round pick Brodie Eastwood had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Tmen. Maybe it was just a coincidence but it was Nanaimo’s highest offensive output since their 13-13 tie with Victoria back on May 20th. Nanaimo found themselves down 6-1 after the first period only to rattle off 14 goals over the final twenty minutes to secure a much needed two points. Much like New West, all is not lost for Nanaimo but they’re going to need a serious run if they are going to make the play-offs. It all starts with a battle against the Bellies Thursday night and with a win, they’d get out of the basement and have their first winning streak of the season going into Coquitlam 48 hours later.

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 ted.jenner@ilindoor.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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