Playing for pride, Thunder stop Shamrocks

by Gary Ahuja

Jake Taylor joked that he blacked out and all he knew was that the ball had gone in the net.

Taylor, not known for his offence, scored his first goal of the season, scooping up the loose ball and scoring in transition to pull the Langley Thunder even at 7-7 with the Victoria Shamrocks on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre.

Johnny Pearson would then score back-to-back goals to close things out as the Thunder played spoiler, knocking off the Shamrocks 9-7 in Western Lacrosse Association action.

“It was nice to get the monkey off the back,” Taylor said afterwards, about his first goal in 16 games this season. He scored four times in 14 games in 2017, although three of those came in the same game.

The win improved Langley to 6-9-1 with two games to go but the senior A team already knows they will be on the outside looking in when the WLA playoffs begin next month. Victoria – barring something totally unpredictable – should make the post-season as they sit at 9-5 with four games to go, but their shot at top spot is likely gone and they are in a fight just for home-floor advantage in the first round.

And at this point in the season, with the playoffs out of the question, stopping a rival is enough motivation to keep the players’ interest piqued.

“Throwing a wrench in the Island (team’s plans) is always a nice feeling. You go over there and it is always hard to win,” Taylor said.

In fact, it was a two-day stop in Victoria and Nanaimo at the start of this month, both losses, which really cemented Langley’s 2018 fate.

This was the third meeting between the Thunder and Shamrocks, with Victoria winning 14-7 in Langley in early June and then 13-11 in Victoria.

But this time the Thunder held the Shamrocks to single digits in earning the victory.

Langley had a great start in Wednesday’s contest, racing out to a 4-1 lead and leading 4-2 after 20 minutes. But as has been the case much of the season, the Thunder had a poor second period with the Shamrocks rallying to take their first lead before the teams went to intermission knotted at five.

“That has been an ongoing battle all year, having a weak second (period). Every intermission, we try to come out positive, shut down the transition and it went our way tonight,” Taylor said.

The Shamrocks scored two of the first three goals in the third period before Taylor tied it and Pearson closed it out, first with a power-play goal, and then a few minutes later, having a defender bounce off him as he drove to the net and went up high.

“We know what we need to do. At this point in the season, things didn’t go our way, a lot of teams might fold up at the end of the year and mail it in but we showed a lot of heart tonight , worked hard and it paid off,” Taylor said.

Pearson and JP Kealey were the first and third stars, respectively, as each had two goals and one assist. Victoria’s Rob Hellyer (two goals, three assists) was the second star.

Taylor, Andrew Garant, Tyler Pace and Dylan Riley each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder and Brandon Clelland had the other goal. Connor Robinson and Kai MacDonald had a pair of assists apiece and Jake Sundar made 38 saves for the victory.

Langley closes the WLA season with games against the Burnaby Lakers. The teams play in Burnaby on Friday, July 20 and back at LEC on Wednesday, July 25.


For more information:

Gary Ahuja, Langley Events Centre, 604.613.5242 (cell), 604.455.8830 (office) or email.