Penalty problems plague Thunder

by Gary Ahuja

Langley's Matt Abbott takes a hit up high from New Westminster's Drew Belgrave during Western Lacrosse Association action at Langley Events Centre on May 29. Ryan Molag photo

Having nearly as many penalty minutes (31) as shots on goal (32) is not a recipe for success. But that is the situation the Langley Thunder found themselves in on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre.

Langley was short-handed 13 times – and the 31 minutes does not include any coincidental penalties or misconducts – as the visiting Salmonbellies won 11-2 in the Thunder’s Western Lacrosse Association home opener.

“We spent way too much time in the penalty box. Our composure and our discipline were not there tonight,” said head coach Ian Poole. “We can’t play short-handed for half the game. The takeaway is we (need to) be more composed and play five-on-five lacrosse.”

The Salmonbellies struck for six goals in the first period and led 11-2 after 40 minutes with neither team able to find the back of the net in the final frame.

“Let’s start over at 0-0 and win the period. Our goal was to work hard and outwork the other team, doesn’t matter what the score is,” Poole said of his messaging to the team at the second intermission.

“It’s a tough message when you are down by quite a few goals, but the guys responded. The third period was a little bit better.”

Nathaniel Kozevnikov (1-1) and Nathan Lam had the Langley goals with goaltender Aden Walsh making 38 saves as the Thunder were outshot 49-32. Ashton Leclaire had 30 saves for New Westminster with Will Malcom registering a hat trick and nine points. Logan Schuss chipped in with a pair of goals and three assists.

Three of the ‘Bellies goals came with a Thunder player in the penalty box while Langley managed one power-play goal in six opportunities.

The Thunder (0-2) have a pair of road games this weekend, Friday (7:30pm) in Burnaby against the Lakers (1-1) and Sunday (7:00pm) in Maple Ridge versus the Burrards (0-1). The team’s next home game at Langley Events Centre is June 5 (7:30pm) as they complete a home-and-home series with Maple Ridge.

The Langley Thunder lacrosse organization consists of Senior A, Junior A and Junior Tier teams who play in the Western Lacrosse Association, BC Junior A Lacrosse League and BC Junior Tier 1 Lacrosse League respectively. All three teams play their home games at Langley Events Centre.