Game Preview: Thunder vs. Shamrocks

by Gary Ahuja

For the second Wednesday night in a row, the Langley Thunder get set to host the Victoria Shamrocks at Langley Events Centre.

The two teams conclude their Wester Lacrosse Association regular season series tonight (July 5) at Langley Events Centre in the third and final meeting with each team having won once. Langley’s loss – a 12-11 setback on May 26 in Victoria – is the team’s only loss this season and they are riding an eight-game winning streak. Langley defeated Victoria 9-3 in the rematch last week (June 28) and combined with a 12-5 win the next night in New Westminster against the Salmonbellies, the Thunder improved to 9-1.

Combined with their defeat at the hands of the Thunder and a 11-9 loss two nights later at home to the Nanaimo Timbermen, the Shamrocks (4-5-1) are mired in a four-game losing streak as they hold onto the fourth and final playoff spot as the season hits the stretch drive.

Against the Salmonbellies, the Thunder scored four goals in the opening 5:24 and held a multi-goal advantage throughout their 13-5 win. Robert Church led the offence with three goals and eight points while Tre Mason potted a pair of transition goals and finished with three points. Frank Scigliano was solid in goal with a 41-save performance, improving to 9-0. He also leads the WLA with a 5.91 goals against average, an .870 save percentage and 328 total saves.

Church sits second in both WLA scoring with 48 points and 29 assists while Dane Dobbie is in third spot with 47 points and fourth in goals at 25. Curtis Dickson – who missed the past four games while representing Canada – is second in the league with 6.0 points per game with a dozen goals and 36 points.

In Victoria’s last game, the Shamrocks found itself tied 8-8 with the Timbermen with a dozen minutes to play but the Nanaimo visitors scored three times for the 11-9 victory. Tom Vaesen led the Shamrocks with a hat trick and four points.

Vaesen is first on his team in goals (19) and second in points (35), trailing Marshal King who has 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists). In goal, the team has gone with the tandem of Cam Dunkerley (7.63 GAA, .831 save percentage) and Pete Dubenski (10.53 GAA, .772 save percentage). Each goalie has played once against Langley with Dubenski earning the victory in his start while Dunkerley was in goal when the teams played last week.

In terms of team statistics, Langley boasts the top offence (11.8 goals per game), top defence (7.00 goals against) and goal differential (+48). The Shamrocks are fourth in goals scored (9.4) and third in goals against (8.90). They are also fourth in goal differential (+5).

For special teams, the Thunder are third on the power play (19-for-47, .404) and first on the penalty kill (11 goals allowed on 42 chances, .738). Langley has also scored 9 short-handed goals, nearly matching the 11 power-play goals they have allowed. The Shamrocks are fourth with the man advantage (18-for-55, .327) and third on the penalty kill (14 goals on 42 opportunities, .667).