Chris Wardle

Two-win weekend pulls Shamrocks close to WLA lead

Key road win over Maple Ridge on Sunday closes gap

It was after the Victoria Shamrocks lost two straight games to the Nanaimo Timbermen to open the 2015 Western Lacrosse Association season that they caught fire.

The team didn’t lose two in a row the rest of the way and won the Mann Cup last September. So no one was getting too excited when the Rocks dropped a pair of games recently, least not the players themselves.

Victoria showed their mettle last weekend when they rolled into Maple Ridge on Sunday and dealt the league-leading Burrards a 12-10 loss.

The Shamrocks (5-2) were coming off a convincing 13-3 win over the Langley Thunder at The Q Centre last Friday that ended their short-lived losing streak.

The rough and tumble Burrards (5-1-1), who recently came under fire from the league for being involved in multiple brawls over the past several seasons, led 5-1 after one Sunday but saw the Shamrocks battle back to win the next two periods 11-5.

“We’re kind of developing a bit of a bad habit of getting off to a slow start in the first period,” said veteran attacker Rhys Duch. “(Goalie Cody) Hagedorn came up big in the second period and allowed us to get going.”

Duch continued his hot hand of late, leading the visitors with five goals, including the tying and winning goals late in the third. He added four assists and was named the game’s first star.

Linemate Corey Small had two goals and five assists, while Steve Higgs (2G, 3A) and Ian McShane (4A) also made significant contributions. Chris Wardle added a pair of goals while Tyler Burton scored once for the Shamrocks, who outshot the Burrards 53-37.

Mike Mallory led Maple Ridge with a goal and four assists, while Aaron Davis, Matt Symes, Lyndon Knuttila and Luke Gillespie scored twice each.

Friday’s game in Colwood against the previously winless Thunder was all Shamrocks. The locals led 5-1 after one and 9-3 after two periods then shut the door on Langley in the third.

Duch led the point parade in that game as well, with four goals and five helpers and sits atop the WLA points list with 45 in seven games. McShane recorded his first-ever hat trick with the Shamrocks, scoring three times and adding two assists. Other goal scorers included Jeff Shattler with a pair and Paul Brebber, Wardle, Greg Harnett and Ben McCullough with singles. Goalie Cody Hagedorn won both games on the weekend.

The Shamrocks are in the middle of a nine-day break from WLA action. They next play in Burnaby on June 21 and return home to host New Westminster on Friday, June 24 at 7:45 p.m.

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