Game Report: Bellies Stun Shamrocks
By Paul Horn
You could tell.
Watching the Salmonbellies warm up before last night’s home game against the Victoria Shamrocks, you could tell that they were fired up. You could see it in their eyes, their tempo and their rhythm.
And it took them no more than 30 seconds to prove it, with Anthony Malcom scoring on the Salmonbellies first shot of the game. Ethan Forgrave scored the first of his three goals just moments later. In fact, the Bellies scored on three of their first four shots, creating early momentum that was too much for the Rocks to overcome. By the time the first period was done, both Malcom and Forgrave had earned hat tricks.
The story was even more compelling at the other end of the floor. Goaltender Neil Tyacke, in just his second start of the season, made it his personal mission to frustrate the Shamrocks offence. In the first 20 minutes, he allowed just three goals on 20 shots, with the score Salmonbellies 7, Shamrocks 3.
We saw just two minor penalties in the first period, but things changed considerably in the second. We witnessed the first fight of the season, with Bellies defender Quinn Mackay taking on talented Victoria shooter Larson Sundown. It was a short-lived affair, with Mackay taking down Sundown in less than 10 seconds.
Both teams ended up spending a considerable amount of time in the box over the second frame, but most of the time it was for very unexciting reasons. Each team notched a single power-play goal despite the parade to the penalty box, and Victoria inched within two goals at one point in the frame. Between 4:45 and the 12-minute mark, Victoria went on a four-goal run, but it was not enough. The Bellies scored the last goal of the period, keeping the momentum as they went into the dressing room.
The third period was a different game entirely. Back-and-forth we went, with both teams managing to reject the other teams’ shooters. By this point, Victoria had changed goalies, and Colin Jeffery was solid. Unfortunately for the Rocks, Tyacke was even more solid. Jeffery allowed one goal in the entire frame (McBride at 11:20) but Tyacke shut out the Rocks for all 20 minutes. The final score was New Westminster 11, Victoria 7.
The win moved the Bellies into a tie with the 4th place Langley Thunder, setting the stage for Langley’s visit to QPA next week.
The games three stars were:
First: Neil Tyacke (87.3% Save Average)
Second: Victoria’s Brad Kri
Third: Mitch Jones (1-4-5)
Not surprisingly, Tyacke was also named the Stonehaus Player of the Game.
News and Notes:
The Bellies had almost all their regulars in the line-up on Thursday. Zach Higgins was away and so was Justin Salt, but Travis Cornwall and Jordan Gilles both played their second games of the season (and both looked great).
Ethan Forgrave (who was added to the Bellies after Nanaimo made some tough deadline roster choices) has been the real deal. In 4 games, he has already scored 5 goals and added 3 assists. He is fearless on the left crease and doesn't seem to know how to score a boring goal.
Both Brett Ginac and Connor Evers have been getting better and better at the face-off dot, thanks to coaching from Tyrell Hamer-Jackson. Ginac has 72 face-off wins in 121 opportunities, while Evers is 42 for 64!
NW Junior points leader Austin Ducommun made his WLA Bellies debut last night. He didn't score, but he did put three on net.
You could be forgiven if you're having difficulty making sense of this year’s standings. If you rank based on points and tiebreakers, the current league leaders are the Nanaimo Timbermen, with 18 points (and a league-best 5-game winning streak).
But the Shamrocks (who currently sit second in the points standings at 16) have three games in hand and the league’s best winning percentage (73%). The Adanacs also have 16 points, but they have 2 games in hand and a 67% win rate.
Meanwhile, the Bellies are equal to Nanaimo when it comes to having the most games under our belts (14). Our winning percentage is 43%, but we have put up two wins in a row. We’re tied in points with the Langley Thunder, so next Thursday’s game will matter a great deal. The season series is tied at one, so the winner of this one will win in a tiebreaker. With the way this season is going, it is very likely that the tiebreaker will matter.
The remaining schedule is tough for four teams (Langley, Victoria, Burnaby, and Maple Ridge) who have 7 games remaining, over a 19 or 20-day stretch. Coquitlam has six left and their last game of the season – August 4th versus the Bellies at QPA – will be a big one.
It’s almost a guarantee that it will matter tremendously to the Salmonbellies, but it might also be the difference between 1st and 3rd for the Adanacs. This year’s WLA is just that close.
The playoffs are still in sight for the Bellies, who showed last night that they are ramping up.
Two things are certain. The Bellies are going to give it their all. And our fans are going to enjoy some dramatic lacrosse!
Photos: Paul Evans Photography