Game Preview: Thunder vs. Lakers
A victory tonight and the Langley Thunder are guaranteed a top-two finish and home-floor advantage in at least the first round of the Western Lacrosse Association playoffs.
That is what is at stake for the team when they take the floor tonight (Wednesday, July 26) at Langley Events Centre at 7:30pm against the Burnaby Lakers.
The Thunder enter the contest with a record of 13-4 and 26 points, which puts them tied with the New Westminster Salmonbellies atop the WLA standings. The Salmonbellies, however, have two games remaining, so to finish in first place, Langley needs a win and for New Westminster to drop one of those two games.
A Langley loss, however, opens the door for the third-place Nanaimo Timbermen (12-5, 24 points) to catch the Thunder in points and the Timbermen would win the head-to-head tiebreaker having won two of the three games against Langley – the only WLA team to accomplish that feat this season.
Following a nine-game win streak, the Thunder are 3-3 in their last six, including their worst defeat of the season, a 16-8 setback at the hands of the Timbermen in Nanaimo on July 23. Langley’s previous three losses came by a combined total of four goals.
Langley led 4-3 early in the second period before surrendering 11 unanswered goals to a surging Timbermen team which has won eight of their past nine games. Dane Dobbie led the Thunder with a pair of goals and five points.
The Lakers (5-12, 10 points) last game also came against Nanaimo, an 11-10 loss in Burnaby on Tuesday (July 25). Toron Eccleston led the Lakers with three goals and five points.
The Thunder are going for the season-series sweep, having won 20-5 on May 24 (the first game of the WLA season) and 16-13 back on June 16.
Langley has been led by Curtis Dickson and Robert Church, who each have 66 points (tied for third in the WLA) while Dobbie is fourth in the league with 32 goals. Church is fifth with 27 goals. Dickson’s 44 assists are also tied for first.
Jacob Dunbar is tops on the Lakers with 41 goals (third in the league) while Eccleston is fourth in assists (39) and fifth in points (65).
In goal, Langley’s Frank Scigliano leads all goaltenders in wins (11), goals against average (6.63) and save percentage (.858). For the Lakers, Keegen Melenychuk has a WLA-best 596 saves. He also has a 10.85 GAA and .802 save percentage and has been in goal for all five of his team’s victories.
The Thunder sit at +16 in terms of special teams’ goals with 27 power-play goals scored, five short-handed goals surrendered, 19 power-play goals allowed and a WLA-best 13 short-handed goals scored.
The Lakers, on the other hand, are at -10 as they have scored 24 power-play goals, allowed 10 short-handed goals, allowed 29 power-play goals and scored five short-handed goals.
In terms of percentage, Burnaby is third on the power play (.414) and Langley is fourth (.391) while the Thunder penalty kill ranks second (.683) and the Lakers are fifth (.603).