Salmonbellies Sweep Semi-final Series Against Shamrocks

by Paul Horn

It doesn't get much closer than that. In a game three that saw the New Westminster Salmonbellies and Victoria Shamrocks tie the score 5 separate times, it was the Bellies who emerged victorious with a 10-8 win. That win sealed the fate of the Rocks who scored just 5 goals fewer than the Bellies in their three consecutive games. 

The Shamrocks opened the scoring on a goal by Marshal King at 4:42 of the first, but Mitch Jones tied things up less than 2 minutes later. Both goalies played well, and the score remained square until the elder Jones brother, Jason, sunk one. Tom Vaesen would even things for Victoria 90 seconds later and that would end the scoring in the first frame. Even though both teams feature some of the game’s best shooters, the period ended with a measly 2-2 on the board.

Ryan Martel, who handled face-offs and played out the back gate for much of the night, earned a gritty one to start the second period scoring. Then both squads decided to score in bunches. It was the Shamrocks first, getting the game’s first 2-goal lead at 5-3, but the Bellies were literally equal to the task, and Crowley, McBride and Dickson fired in three goals in the next 2 and half minutes. The second ended with New West up by a single goal at 6-5.

The third began with all sorts of defensive heroics at both ends, with Victoria’s Casey Wilson finally breaking the stalemate at 7:41 for the game’s fifth tie. But something seemed to click for New West when Victoria scored, and it showed on the ensuing play. Within 20 seconds, Haiden Dickson notched his second goal and gave the Bellies a lead they would not relinquish. Will Malcom and Kevin Crowley soon followed, and the Bellies were up by three at the 10:28 mark. The Shamrocks would manage two more, but Will Malcom’s second of the evening provided the insurance.

Despite the incredible action and intensity in the game, just one powerplay was awarded in the entire 60 minutes. New West killed that powerplay and both teams relied on even strength for every goal.

Higgins was named the game’s third star and the Stonehaus Player of the Game after allowing just 8 goals on 49 shots. Victoria’s Marshal King was second with 1 goal and 4 assists. Captain Mitch Jones was the first star, earning 1 goal and 5 helpers.

Both teams saw distributed scoring, with New West also getting goals from Will Malcom (2-2-4), Kevin Crowley (2-1-3), Haiden Dickson (2-1-3), Jason Jones (1-1-2), Jordan McBride (1-1-2) and Ryan Martel (1-0-1). Noah Armitage had three assists, with Keegan Bal and Drew Belgrave each getting two. Sorichetti and Goodwin each had a single assist.

The Bellies will now have to await the winner of the Langley – Nanaimo series. That semi-final currently sits at 2-1 for Langley, after an OT win by Nanaimo on the road on Tuesday evening. The series continues at 7:00 tomorrow at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena. If needed, a fifth game would be played in Langley on August 14th.

No matter what happens in the other series, the Bellies know they will play next on August 16th at Queens Park in game one of the best of seven final. Tickets for that series will go on sale soon and will be available both on-line and at the gate.

Photo: J. Walliser 2023