Salmonbellies silence Thunder just in time
The New Westminster Salmonbellies did themselves a big favour in their fight for a Western Lacrosse Association playoff spot by upsetting the first-place Langley Thunder 10-9 at Queen's Park Arena Thursday evening.
The victory put New West (7-7-0) in a tie for second in points with Victoria (7-5-0) and Burnaby (8-5-2), but both of those teams held games in hand on the Salmonbellies heading into play Friday night. Coquitlam (6-6-0) was also just two points in hand but having played two fewer games while Nanaimo (5-5-1) was three back with three games in hand.
It appears Langley (10-5-0) has first-place locked up but the fight for the other three playoff spots will be a tight one with the 18-game regular season ending in two weeks.
The Salmonbellies will be in Victoria to play the Shamrocks on Tuesday before playing host to the Nanaimo Timbermen on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. They finish the season with a home game against Coquitlam on July 26 and at Maple Ridge versus the last-place Burrards on July 29.
Thursday's triumph came it in dramatic fashion with rookie goaltender Neil Tyacke, subbing for starter Tyler Richards who was unavailable due to another commitment, making 46 saves and by overcoming a 7-4 deficit midway through the second period.
Jordan McBride and Corbyn Tao scored 13 seconds apart with four minutes left in regulation to put the Salmonbellies ahead and they held off the Thunder from there.
Langley had taken a 4-2 first period lead, and by the time former Salmonbellie and New Westminster native Kerry Susheski had scored his fourth goal of the game, the Thunder had a 7-4 lead.
Tao had two goals and two assists with New West's other goals going to Curtis Hodgson, Tom Johnson, Ilija Gajic, Alex Gajic, Eric Lewthwaite and Sean Robinson.
Langley got contributions from a couple of other players with New Westminster connections. Former Jr. Salmonbellie Alex Turner had two goals and an assist, the same as ex-Victoria Shamrock star Lewis Ratcliff, and New West native Matt MacGrotty also had a goal for the Thunder. Athan Iannucci, a former WLA scoring leader with the Salmonbellies and Langley's top scorer, was held to one assist.
• Tyler Barrett, who has yet to play even a minute of junior A lacrosse let alone in the senior ranks, served as Tyacke's backup.