Back-to-back wins as Thunder down Salmonbellies

by Gary Ahuja

Charles Scanlan celebrates his first-period goal -- one of four he scored in the game -- as the Langley Thunder defeated New Westminster 8-5 in Western Lacrosse Association action at Langley Events Centre on June 19. Ryan Molag photo

Sunday night it was all about the offence, but on Wednesday, it was the defence’s time to shine as the Langley Thunder strung together back-to-back victories.

On the road in Maple Ridge on June 16, the Thunder offence erupted for a season-high 18 goals as they defeated the Burrards 18-11. Back at home three nights later at Langley Events Centre, the Thunder rode a 43-save performance from goaltender Aden Walsh in an 8-5 win over the New Westminster Salmonbellies.

The five goals allowed was also a season-best for Langley, which improved to 3-5 in the Western Lacrosse Association standings. New Westminster’s record slipped to 4-2.

“Our defence stood strong and our goaltending played well. Walsh has been the backbone for the whole season and if he is playing the way he is, and our defence can stay structured and work together, we have a very good chance of success,” said Langley coach Ian Poole.

The Salmonbellies led 2-1 after a period, despite Langley outshooting the visitors 18-13. But the second period saw the Thunder offence find its rhythm as they outscored New Westminster 5-2 in the middle stanza.

“We were coming over the top and getting our shots. Trusting each other, trusting the system, and most of all, my little brother was feeding me the ball,” said Langley’s Charles Scanlan, the game’s first star following his four-goal, six-point effort.

He was referencing younger brother Clay Scanlan, who assisted on three of his four goals.

The rest of the Langley offence came from Robert Church, who had a goal and four assists, a pair of goals courtesy of Nathaniel Kozevnikov and one goal from Graydon Bradley. Nathan Lam also had three assists.

The key was getting shots from all over.

“Everybody has to shoot more, not just two or three people, it has to come from everywhere because that opens up everybody else,” explained Charles Scanlan.

While the eight goals were less than half what the team tallied the game before, it was more than enough with Walsh standing tall in the Thunder goal.

“Countless amount of shots that they soaked for me. Probably 10-plus shots they stopped for me, so they definitely made my job easier, especially when we were down a man,” Walsh said.

He was refencing the team’s penalty kill which thwarted all three New Westminster man advantage opportunities, including the final 3:44 when the Thunder were given a five-minute major.

“The penalty kill in the last three or four games has been one of our strong points,” Poole said, adding the fact the team has also significantly cut down on the amount of penalties they have taken, leaving less time they are battling while a man down.

“If you are going to try and play these games 5-on-4, that is not a very good recipe for success.”

For New Westminster, Will Malcom led the way with two goals and two assists while Jake Govett (1-3) also had a four-point game. Neil Tyacke stopped 43 shots as the Thunder outshot the Salmonbellies 51-48.

While goals were hard to come by on Wednesday night, Langley and Maple Ridge combined for 29 goals on June 16 in the 18-11 Thunder victory. The Thunder had trailed 2-0 early, before their offence exploded.

The trio of Chase Scanlan (4-8), Charles Scanlan (5-5) and Clay Scanlan (5-4) led the way as they combined for 14 goals and 31 points.

The Thunder now have a week off before they wrap up the first half of their 18-game regular season when they host the Nanaimo Timbermen at Langley Events Centre. Game time will be at 7:00pm instead of the usual 7:30 home game start time.