Thunder aim to play spoiler

by Gary Ahuja

It's spoiler time for the Langley Thunder.

With five games remaining in the Western Lacrosse Association regular season, the Thunder look to be that proverbial thorn in the opposition’s side.

At 3-10, the Thunder sit 10 points back of the fourth and final WLA playoff spot, but even if they won out and one of the teams they are chasing were to go winless down the stretch, the tiebreakers would not go their way.

Instead, they are relegated to the role of spoilers.

With the season in its final two weeks, just four points separate first-place Maple Ridge (9-5, 18 points) and fifth-place New Westminster (7-6, 14 points) with Victoria (8-4, 16 points), Burnaby (8-6, 16 points) and Nanaimo (8-5, 16 points) sandwiched in between.

All five teams have one game remaining against Langley meaning the Thunder have the perfect opportunity to wreak havoc on the respective teams’ playoff aspirations.

And first on their list is the Victoria Shamrocks who visit the Langley Events Centre tonight (July 10, 7 p.m.).

The Thunder are in search of a second-straight victory and hoping their goal-scoring woes are behind them. After struggling to score a combined eight goals in their previous two games, Langley busted out with 11 their last time out, an 11-9 victory over the Coquitlam Adanacs on July 3.

That win came on July 3 at Langley Events Centre, and the team has been idle since then, resting up and getting ready to go as they play their last five games of the Western Lacrosse Association regular season.

This is the third and final meeting between Langley and Victoria with the teams splitting their first two, both of which came in the provincial capital with Langley winning 6-4 on May 26 before the Shamrocks prevailed 8-5 on June 28.

Despite the lack of success in the win/loss column, goaltender Steve Fryer continues to shine for the Thunder.

He came off the bench in the team's most recent game and stopped 26 of 28 shots as the Thunder turned a 7-4 deficit into an 11-9 victory. 

For the season, he sits top five in most of the WLA goaltending leaderboards with an .839 save percentage (third) 426 saves (fourth) and an 8.92 goals against average (fifth).

At the other end of the floor, a pair of new acquisitions are having solid debut seasons for the Thunder.

Rookie Brad McCulley struck for three goals and a career-high six points in the team's last victory while Coady Adamson (acquired in a trade with Burnaby last month) has five goals and 16 points in seven games since joining the Thunder. 

And Aidan Milburn is having a solid sophomore season in the league, leading the team with a career-high 11 goals and 25 points. He is also one point ahead of McCulley for the Thunder team scoring lead.

Following this game, Langley hits the road for three straight (Burnaby, July 12; Nanaimo July 20; Maple Ridge July 23) before closing the 2019 WLA season with their home finale on July 24 against New Westminster. Langley will wear special jerseys for the game which will be auctioned off with the proceeds donated to the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation. Click here for more.