Game Preview: Thunder vs. Salmonbellies

by Gary Ahuja

For the second week in a row, the Langley Thunder head to Queen’s Park Arena for a first-place showdown with the New Westminster Salmonbellies.

The game gets going tonight (July 6) at 7:30pm at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster.


The Thunder (10-1) and Salmonbellies (9-2) sit one-two in the Western Lacrosse Association standings and Langley looks to complete a sweep of the teams’ head-to-head season series, having won 9-7 at home on May 31 and 13-5 on the road on June 29 to hand New Westminster their only two losses.

Langley looks for a 10th straight victory as they used trailed 5-3 with two minutes to play in the middle period before scoring the game’s final six goals for a 9-5 win over the visiting Victoria Shamrocks. The game marked the return of Curtis Dickson to the line-up, and he delivered two goals and five points. Frank Scigliano was the first star following his 44-save performance as he improved to 10-0 on the season with a 5.82 goals against average, an .873 save percentage and 372 total saves. He leads the WLA in each of those categories.

After being held to a season-low five goals last week against Langley, the Salmonbellies offence bounced back with a combined 32 goals the past two games, defeating Burnaby 18-11 on June 30 and Coquitlam 14-5 on July 4. Both those games were on the road.

In the victory over Coquitlam, Keegan Bal led the way with five goals and 10 points while Zach Higgins made 44 saves on 49 shots.

Both teams boast explosive offences as the Salmonbellies are scoring 11.64 goals per game while Langley is right behind at 11.55 to sit one-two in the league. Defensively, the teams are also one-two with the Thunder surrendering 6.82 goals per game and New Westminster at an even 8 goals against per game. They are each also tops in goal differential with Langley at +52 and the ‘Bellies at +40.

For individual statistics, Robert Church is first in assists (30) and second in points (50) while Dane Dobbie (47 points) and Dickson (41) are third and fifth, respectively in that category. Dickson – who missed four games – is second in the WLA with 5.9 points per game while for the Salmonbellies, Crowley and Bal are tied for third at 5.7 points per game. As well, New Westminster’s Haiden Dickson is tied for the league lead with 30 goals.

And in the special teams’ battle, it will be New Westminster’s first-ranked power-play unit (28-for-52, .538) against Langley’s No. 1 penalty kill (11 goals on 43 chances, .744). The Thunder also have a league-best nine short-handed goals.

Langley’s power play checks in at No. 3 (20-for-49, .408) and the Salmonbellies’ short-handed unit is second (16 goals on 53 chances. .698 with three short-handed goals. Each team’s power play has also allowed four short-handed goals.