Game Preview: Thunder vs. Timbermen
The season series is on the line as the Langley Thunder travel to Nanaimo to face the Timbermen in Western Lacrosse Association action.
Each team has won once as they head into the rubber match of the three-game series tonight (Sunday, July 23) at the Frank Crane Arena. Game time is 7:00pm.
Langley won 10-5 on June 3 in Nanaimo with the Timbermen returning the favour by winning on the Thunder’s home floor 10-9 in overtime on July 12.
In the first contest, Robert Church paced the Langley offence with three goals and one assist and Frank Scigliano stopped 33 of 38 shots. Zach Manns led the Timbermen with a pair of goals and one assist and Justin Geddie made 33 saves on 43 shots.
The rematch saw Nanaimo score in the final minute to force overtime and then win it 43 seconds into the sudden-death period. Ryan Sheridan (3+1) led the Timbermen in the game while Chase Scanlan (2+3) and Curtis Dickson (1+4) each had five-point games for the Thunder.
Devlin Shanahan picked up the win with a 43-save performance while Scigliano stopped 46 of the 55 shots in what was his first loss of the season.
A Thunder victory (or tie) would guarantee the team could finish no worse than second place in the WLA standings while victories in both this game and their regular season finale would guarantee Langley top spot heading into next month’s playoffs. They enter the final two games of the season tied with the New Westminster Salmonbellies with identical 13-3 records, although Langley did win the season series 2-1. The Timbermen enter this game with a shot at one of the top two seeds as they currently sit in third place (10-5, 20 points), three points ahead of the fourth place Victoria Shamrocks (8-7-1, 17 points) with Nanaimo holding a game in hand.
The Thunder are coming off a 9-7 home victory on July 19 over the visiting Maple Ridge Burrards as Dane Dobbie had a hat trick and six points, while the Timbermen’s last game was a 12-10 road loss to the Victoria Shamrocks, ending Nanaimo’s six-game winning streak. Colton Lidstone’s three goals and five points were tops for the Timbermen.
The Thunder enter tonight’s game allowing a league-low 7.56 goals per game while Nanaimo sits fourth at 9.07 goals against.
Scigliano’s 6.63 GAA and .858 save percentage are both tops among all eligible WLA goaltenders with the Nanaimo tandem of Shanahan and Geddie each sporting a 9.03 GAA while the former has a .816 save percentage and the latter has an .806 save percentage. They are tied for fifth in GAA and are fourth and seventh, respectively in save percentage. Thunder goaltender Aden Walsh has a 9.22 GAA and .836 save percentage, having played in a total of six games, or the equivalent of just over three full games. If eligible (goaltenders must play at least 30 percent of the games), his save percentage would rank second.
Offensively, the Thunder are second at 11 goals per game and the Timbermen are third, averaging 10.13 goals.
Dickson leads Langley – and the WLA -- in assists (44) and points (60), Church is second in both assists (38) and points (64) while Dobbie leads the team in goals (30) and is third in points (59) and Connor Robinson is fourth on the team with 16 goals and 35 points. All four are averaging between 3.9 and 5.5 points per game on the season.
Manns sits first in the league with 78 points and his 39 goals rank third. Taggart Clark is second on Nanaimo with 21 goals and 49 points and Jon Phillips sits third with 16 goals and 44 points.
For special teams, Langley is second on the penalty kill (.673) and fourth on the power play (.379) while Nanaimo is second (.467) on the power play and third on the penalty kill (.651). Both teams are also major threats when a man down as the Thunder have 11 short-handed goals and the Timbermen have 10, six of those coming from Manns. On the power play, Clark leads all WLA players with 10 goals, just ahead of Dobbie’s nine. And in terms of total special teams’ goals, Nanaimo is at +14 and Langley is at +13, to sit second and third, respectively.