Salmonbellies Celebrating 130th Season
Date: Feb 20, 2019
Story by Ian McNaughton, WLA Contributing Writer. Photo credit Paul Evans/Maple Ridge Burrards.
It has been an exciting first round of lacrosse action in the WLA this week with the WLA Finals starting next week.
We already know who one of the teams playing in the finals will be. The Maple Ridge Burrards clinched their spot last night over the New Westminster Salmonbellies in a 4 game sweep.
The other finals spot could be decided tonight as the Victoria Shamrocks host the Nanaimo Timbermen in Game #5 at The Q Centre in Victoria with the 'Rocks ahead in the series 3-1. Here's a recap of each series up to today.
#1 New Westminster Salmonbelllies vs. #4 Maple Ridge Burrards (Burrards win series 4-0)
The Maple Ridge Burrards swept New Westminster, who was the best team in the WLA regular season in a physical and explosive series. Maple Ridge scored at least 10 goals in each game while limiting the 'Bellies to less than 10 goals in each game except Game #3. It was Maple Ridge from beginning to end in this series and New West could not find an answer to contain the Burrards. New Westminster had not lost back to back games before entering this series.
The leading scorer for Maple Ridge is Curtis Dickson, who some would argue is one of the best lacrosse players in the world right now. Since he has come back from the World Field Lacrosse Championships at the end of July, he has not missed a beat as he leads the league in playoff scoring with 22 points. An extremely talented individual that is a challenge for anyone to defend.
After getting swept, New Westminster won't get the chance to defend their WLA Championship they won last season. As for the Burrards, they will make their first WLA Finals appearance since 2016 when they lost to the Six Nations Chiefs in the Mann Cup that season.
#2 Victoria Shamrocks vs. #3 Nanaimo Timbermen (Shamrocks lead series 3-1)
The all-island series has been a favourite between the two fan bases so far. With Nanaimo making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years and after a Game #1 12-11 sudden death overtime win for Nanaimo, which was crazy for everybody who attended that game at The Q Centre in Victoria, the Shamrocks have rolled off 3 straight wins. They now have an opportunity to clinch their own spot in the WLA Finals Friday if they beat Nanaimo in Game #5.
The Timbermen have struggled to get any sort of momentum in these last three games. Since winning Game #1, Nanaimo has led for only 1:48 seconds in the rest of the series. They will also want to give their goalie some support offensively as starting netminder Charles Claxton has been chased the last two games. Claxton has given up 8 and 7 goals respectively after playing nearly 30 minutes in those appearances.
What makes the Shamrocks so tough to match up against is their depth scoring. The Shamrocks have 5 guys with at least 5 goals in the first 4 games with no one scoring more than Casey Jackson's 10 goals. The Shamrocks also have a solid back end that has made life difficult for the Timbermen forwards. Goalie Adam Shute is giving up 7.24 goals against average and posses a .843 save percentage so far in the postseason. This has been a great series that has been exciting for the WLA and fans of lacrosse on the island.