Heading into the Western Lacrosse Association final series against New Westminster, Bob Heyes tossed out a not-so-veiled challenge to his players.
The Victoria Shamrocks head coach said if his talented team gets outworked by the gritty Salmonbellies that the best-of-seven affair would be an uphill battle.
The work ethic that catapulted the Shamrocks from an 0-2 start to another regular season title was in full view last Friday, as the boys in green and white literally dismantled the visitors in game 1 with an 11-3 win at The Q Centre.
That never-quit ethos will no doubt be on display again tonight (Aug. 17) at Queen’s Park Arena in New West for game 2. The teams return to Colwood for game 3 on Wednesday (7:45 p.m. start time).
The Shamrocks made a statement quickly to start the opener, when Corey Small scored the first of his four goals on the night just 24 seconds in. He would add three more, including two in the first 1:25 of the second period to give his team a 6-1 lead.
With Aaron Bold standing tall in the Shamrocks net and turning aside virtually every shot the ‘Bellies fired at him – his 41 saves included several clear-cut breakaways – Victoria never really let the game get in jeopardy.
Leading scorer Logan Schuss responded to Small’s first goal with one of his own 2:46 in, but that was the closest New West could get. It was 5-1 Shamrocks after one and 7-3 after two.
Small finished with eight points on the night, while fellow sniper Rhys Duch notched four goals of his own to go with three helpers. Also scoring in the win were Daryl Veltman, with two, and captain Scott Ranger with a single.
Big (six-foot-five) attacker Dan Dawson was a force on the edge for the Shamrocks, often drawing two defenders and allowing his teammates to get good position. He wound up with four assists.
Keegan Bal scored twice for the ‘Bellies, once on the power play and another shorthanded, but his goals were spaced apart in the second period and barely interrupted the Shamrocks’ flow.
New West goalie Jason Penney was lifted for backup Alexis Buque midway through the third, after stopping 33 of 43 shots. Duch stormed through 31 seconds later and greeted Buque with a nifty goal low on the latter’s first shot, but he saved everything from there.