Langley, Nanaimo set to battle for WLA crown
Will it be the Langley Thunder hoisting their first Western Lacrosse Association championship trophy since claiming the top prize in 2012 or will the Nanaimo Timbermen capture the trophy for the first time since they re-entered the league in 2005?
The two teams will take up to seven games to answer that question with the winner heading east to compete for a Mann Cup next month against the champion of Major Series Lacrosse, which will be either the Six Nations Chiefs or the Peterborough Lakers.
Both Langley and Nanaimo finished with 12-6 records (as did all four WLA playoff teams) with the Thunder earning the top seed and the Timbermen coming in third once the league tiebreakers were used.
During the regular season, the Thunder took the series 2-1, winning 10-9 in Nanaimo on June 11 and 8-6 in Langley on June 15. The Timbermen prevailed in the most recent contest, 12-9, on July 13 in a game also played at Langley Events Centre.
This marks the first-ever post-season meeting the two teams and the Thunder will host games one and three (August 19 and 23) at Langley Events Centre while games two and four (August 21 and 25) are set for Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena. If necessary, games five and seven (August 27 and 31) would also be at LEC while game six would be in Nanaimo (August 29). All the games are scheduled to begin at 7:00pm.
The Timbermen swept the Coquitlam Adanacs 4-0 in their semi-final series while Langley needed six games to dispatch the Victoria Shamrocks.
Curtis Dickson scored the game-winning goal in all four Langley victories, while Jon Phillips potted a pair of game-winners for the Timbermen.
Goals For Goals Against
Nanaimo was second during the regular season in both goals for (10.72) and goals against (8.67) while Langley was fourth in goals for (10.28) and third in goals against (8.89). The Timbermen were also second in goal differential at +37 and the Thunder were fourth at +25.
In the post-season, the Thunder have scored 11.33 goals per game compared to 9.83 allowed and the Timbermen are scoring 10.25 goals a game while surrendering 7.50.
Dane Dobbie finished second in regular season scoring with 37 goals, 43 assists, 80 points and 5.3 points per game and has not slowed down in the playoffs, leading in assists (27) and points (39) while sitting second in goals with 12, one behind Dickson’s 13 goals. Dickson also has 33 playoff points. In the regular season, Dickson was fourth in assists with 41 and fifth in points with 68 and third in the league with 4.9 points per game. Dobbie (6.5) and Dickson (5.5) are averaging a combined 12 points per game.
Robert Church (30 goals, 31 assists) and Chase Scanlan (29 goals, 15 assists) were second and third on the team in goals, giving Langley four players with 29 or more goals. Captain Connor Robinson finished fourth in scoring with 18 goals and 45 points, despite missing the first seven games of the season.
Robinson and Scanlan each had nine goals and 22 points in the series against Victoria.
Phillips led Nanaimo in goals (28) and points (65) during the regular season while Colton Lidstone (18 goals, 56 points), Taggart Clark (17 goals, 46 points), Zach Manns (23 goals, 44 points) and Teioshontateh McComber (17 goals, 34 points) round out the team’s top five in regular season scoring.
In the series against Coquitlam, Manns led the Timbermen in points with 17 (four goals, 13 assists) and Phillips was the top goal-scorer with seven goals, to go along with eight assists. Lidstone had three goals, 10 assists, McComber had six goals, five assists and Clark and five goals, six assists.
Frank Scigliano led the WLA with a 8.13 goals against average and was second with an .837 save percentage during the regular season while Devlin Shanahan (who joined the Timbermen mid-season from back east) was fourth in GAA (9.17) and fifth in save percentage (.802).
In the playoffs, Shanahan has led all post-season goalies with a 7.23 GAA and .845 save percentage while Scigliano finished with a 9.79 GAA and .812 save percentage.
Langley’s Steve Fryer did see some action in game three, stopping nine of 10 shots in his lone appearance. During the regular season, Fryer won both of his starts and had a 9.50 GAA and .827 save percentage. For Nanaimo, Charles Claxton was second in the league in GAA (8.55) with a .814 save percentage.
The Thunder power play was tops during the regular season with 42 goals on 91 opportunities (.462) while their penalty kill came second, allowing 30 goals on 83 chances. Langley also scored a dozen short-handed goals. Nanaimo was fourth with the man advantage (31-for-73, .425) and fifth on the PK (38 goals on 91 chances, .582).
Both teams had vastly superior special teams than their respective first-round opponents with the Thunder striking on 15 of their 25 power-play chances, a .600 success rate over the six games. The Timbermen only received seven man-advantage opportunities over their four-game sweep but managed to score on four of them (.571). Conversely, Langley only allowed five goals on 26 short-handed situations (.808) while Nanaimo surrendered four goals on 15 chances (.733).
And when factoring in the regular season and playoffs combined, Langley was +28 in special teams goals differential compared to Nanaimo’s -9.
Scigliano played all three games of the season series for Langley while Nanaimo used three different goalies with Shanahan stopping 43 of 52 shots in the most recent meeting for the victory. Scigliano – who made 52 saves on 58 shots in one of the game – finished with an .830 save percentage.
Dickson led Langley with four goals and 12 assists while Dobbie had seven goals and seven assists. For Nanaimo, Manns had six goals and eight assists.