Game 6 recap: Bellies force a seventh game

by Gary Ahuja

Dane Dobbie scored twice but the Langley Thunder fell 9-6 in Game 6 of the Western Lacrosse Association Finals on Saturday (August 26) night at Langley Events Centre to the New Westminster Salmonbellies, setting up a seventh and deciding game on August 29 in New Westminster. Gary Ahuja LEC photo

The Western Lacrosse Association Finals is going the distance.

The visiting New Westminster Salmonbellies forced a decisive seventh game with a 9-6 victory on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre in Game 6, knotting the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.

The Salmonbellies scored the only three goals of the opening period and that proved to be the final margin of victory as the Thunder twice got to within a goal but could get no closer.

“I think it was Higgins, he was real good. We had some really, really quality chances early in the game,” said Langley coach Curt Malawsky, referencing the game’s first star, Salmonbellies goaltender Zach Higgins when asked about the difference in the game.

“We were down 4-0 but I did honestly feel we were outplaying them. If you go back and look at the film, we had like 10-bell ringers in front of the net, and he played really well.”

Higgins made 46 saves as his team was outshot 52-41.

The teams now have two full days off before Game 7, which is set for Tuesday (August 29) at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Arena at 7:30pm.

“Now we have to bounce back; it’s Game 7, do-or-die,” Malawsky said.

“This is outstanding for B.C. lacrosse; Queen’s Park will be jammed.”

In Game 6, the Salmonbellies opened the scoring at 5:30 and never trailed in the contest. They were ahead 4-0 in the opening minute of the middle stanza before Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie finally solved Higgins, cutting the lead in half. The ‘Bellies would get one goal back with a power-play marker before Chase Scanlan and Robert Church pulled the Thunder to within a goal heading into the final 20 minutes.

The teams traded goals to start the period with Church netting his second but New Westminster tallied twice in 1:34 to pad their lead. Dobbie did get his second of the night with 3:54 to play, but that would be as close as Langley got as the Salmonbellies scored the last goal of the night.

Church and Dobbie each had two goals and an assist while Dickson was the third star with a goal and four points for Langley. Connor Robinson added two assists. Frank Scigliano made 32 saves.

For the Salmonbellies, Keegan Bal (2-2), Kevin Crowley (2-1) and Ryan Martel (2-0) each scored twice while Will Malcom (1-1), Drew Belgrave and Haiden Dickson had a goal apiece. Mitch Jones was the second star following his four-assist performance.

The game was relatively penalty free with New Westminster going 1-for-2 with the man advantage while Langley failed to capitalize on their only opportunity.