Church leads way as Thunder down Burrards

by Gary Ahuja

Robert Church scored twice and finished with five points as the Langley Thunder won 10-8 over the Maple Ridge Burrards on June 5 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo

When Cal Slade shoots, good things happen.

Slade scored twice – including what turned out the game winner – on Wednesday night as the Langley Thunder defeated the visiting Maple Ridge Burrards 10-8 in Western Lacrosse Association action at Langley Events Centre.

Slade, a defender whose role on the team is blocking shots and keeping the opposition away from his goal, has played 21 career WLA games. And in that time, he has managed three shots on goal, scoring each time. It marked his first two-goal game since back in 2017 when he was playing at the Intermediate level.

Both of his goals came on breakaways and on the eventual game-winner, he sprinted from the penalty box to pounce on a loose ball ahead of the Maple Ridge goalie and then stepped around him and was able to fire it into the open cage to give his team a 9-5 lead, the Thunder’s biggest advantage of the night.

The victory improved the team to 1-4 while dropping Maple Ridge to 1-3 on the season. It was the second time the two teams met in the past four days with the Burrards winning 16-9 on Sunday in Maple Ridge.

“Getting defensive goals and transition goals, those are huge part of the game. If you can get guys like that, your meat and potatoes guys to get some goals for you … that is always going to give you that extra little boost,” said Langley coach Ian Poole.

Wednesday’s contest saw the score tied at two heading into the first intermission despite the Thunder outshooting Maple Ridge 16-9.

“Stick to the process of what we are trying to do. We came out flying in the first and we had lots of opportunities, but we just didn’t bury them,” Poole said about the message to his players in the locker room following the opening 20 minutes.

And despite the shot clock reading 19-18 for Langley in the middle frame, the Thunder managed to score six times for an 8-5 lead heading into the third. The final period saw Maple Ridge control play with a 23-9 advantage in shots on goal but Langley goaltender Aden Walsh made 20 of 42 saves in the third to secure the victory.

“They came out strong in the third period and (Walsh) held the fort for us,” said Langley’s Robert Church who returned to the line-up and was named first star following a two-goal, three-assist effort.

“We swung the ball. It was only my second game but compared to (the home opener) it was night and day. We did a good job of swinging the ball and getting everyone involved and it was pretty balanced,” he said.

Church’s five-point game was matched by Charles Scanlan’s five assists with Chase Scanlan registering a hat trick. Tristan Kirkham and Slade both scored twice and Clay Scanlan had a goal and an assist.

Special teams were also key with Langley scoring on three of their four opportunities while allowing just a single Maple Ridge man-advantage opportunity in seven tries.

Dylan McIntosh had two goals and five points for Maple Ridge and was the game’s third star while Ryan Jones finished with a hat trick and four points. Brandon Humphrey made 34 saves on 44 shots for the Burrards.

Now after four games in the past eight days, the Thunder get some much-needed rest as they are off until June 12 when they host the Coquitlam Adanacs at Langley Events Centre. Game time will be 7:30pm.

The Langley Thunder lacrosse organization consists of Senior A, Junior A and Junior Tier 1 teams who play in the Western Lacrosse Association, BC Junior A Lacrosse League and BC Junior Tier 1 Lacrosse League respectively. All three teams play their home games at Langley Events Centre.