Lakers at Bellies: June 2

by Paul Horn

The Salmonbellies started off their home opener slowly, but they gave the fans plenty to cheer about as the game went on.

The Fish opened the scoring on a goal by Captain Mitch Jones, who currently leads the league in scoring.  Unfortunately, it was Burnaby who scored the next six goals. Ryan Martel earned two of them, while James Rahe and Philip Buque each put one behind Zach Higgins. It was really a question of transition as the Bellies were struggling to get the ball out of their zone, and Burnaby was doing everything in their power to take advantage of juicy rebounds and fast young legs. Jones earned a second goal near the end of the first, but the score was 7-2 in favour of Burnaby.

Defences tightened and goals were slower to come in the second frame. New Westminster got goals from two junior callups, Marcus Klarich and Thomas Vela. Both of them have had three games this year in the WLA (with two being on the Salmonbellies). Both have been impressive early and you can tell that they are quickly figuring out the pace of the senior game. It was Klarich who scored first for us, then Burnaby got the next two, including a breakaway by Harrison Smith after a very long rebound. He broke down the floor and put one behind Zack Higgins, but just a few moments later, the story would be different on an equally unusual rebound.  This time Higgins stopped his shooter cold and gave his team a lift in the process. Vela then scored at 16:27 to finish the scoring for the period.  New Westminster went into the room with some momentum and confidence.

Things really started to go our way in the third period.  At 1:07, Quinn Mackay demonstrated what happens when you're willing to battle through adversity. After transitioning the ball down the floor under significant and physical pressure, he got to the crease. With a ball that looked like it could squirt out of his stick at any moment, he managed to put one behind Boychuk and the crowd was visibly lifted. Just 18 seconds later, newcomer Silas Richmond scored his first in the WLA and the crowd began to buzz. Things got quiet for a short while, but the momentum was in our favour. James Rahe scored about halfway through the 3rd with a manshort goal, but we were not done. Our veterans began chipping away, with Mitch Jones earning his third of the night. Just 30 seconds later, veteran Jordan McBride did what he has so often done, scoring at a key time and bringing us within one. Connor Watson scored one for Burnaby, but Haiden Dickson continued his scoring streak by putting the next two in. The first was a heavy but incredibly long shot that found its target with precision. Then, just a few moments later, Mitch Jones took a similar shot from outside. Even though Boychuk stopped it, Dickson was sitting on the doorstep like an Amazon package.  He picked up the rebound and made no mistake. We were tied at 11 and the crowd went wild.

It was back-and-forth for a few moments with the Bellies seemingly having the momentum, but Burnaby was the one who would score last. Ryan Martel had been playing and "seagull" style all evening, positioning himself high and coming out of the gate quickly in transition, getting behind our defence before we were ready. That's what he did this time as well, earning his fourth of the night, and giving his team lead. Both teams took timeouts and New Westminster tried to mount a set play, but a bobbled pass gave Burnaby the chance for one more goal into the empty net.

The score was not what the Salmonbellies faithful had hoped to see - especially after three years with no lacrosse - but there was no denying that the team had provided plenty of excitement and demonstrated an amazing degree of resilience. After falling behind in the first period by score of 7-2 and being out shot dramatically, the Bellies turned the tide in the third period.  We out shot the Lakers 19 to 8 and outscored them 7 to 2, but just weren't able to complete to come back.


Three stars:

1. Ryan Martel (Burnaby)

2. James Rahe (Burnaby)

3. Mitch Jones (New West)

Stonehaus Player of the Game: Drew Belgrave (watch his interview here)

Join us next Thursday at 7 PM as we take on the Nanaimo Timbermen.  Tickets here.

To see more game photos from Paul Evans, click here.