Thunder, 'Bellies ready to battle

by Gary Ahuja

Playing from behind right off the get-go is not a usual recipe for success, and that is the situation the Langley Thunder found themselves in in back-to-back games this weekend.

The team was able to overcome a 3-0 deficit that first game, rallying to beat the Coquitlam Adanacs 12-9. But the following night in Maple Ridge. The hole was even bigger, 6-0, and there would be no come-from-behind win, with Langley losing 10-7 to the Burrards.

Both games were on the road, but Langley returns to the friendlier confines of Langley Events Centre on Wednesday (June 27) as they welcome the first-place New Westminster Salmonbellies in Western Lacrosse Association action.

The Salmonbellies are on top of the seven-team senior A lacrosse team loop at 7-1 while the Thunder are in a dogfight for the fourth and final playoff spot at 3-6-1. At seven points, Langley is two back of fourth-place Nanaimo (4-5-1) with the Burnaby Lakers (4-4) sitting in between with eight points.

“They have the swagger and the experience,” Langley head coach Rod Jensen said about the Salmonbellies who are first in the league in goals for (12.88), third in goals against (8.50) and first in goal differential at +35. Their special teams are also stellar, with a power play connecting at 53.06 per cent of their chances (first) and a penalty kill which has been successful 62.79 per cent of the time (second).

While rising young stars Tyler Pace (17 goals, 31 points) and Connor Robinson (nine goals, 24 points) lead the Thunder in scoring, a couple of veterans have added a spark to the team’s offence.

Dane Dobbie and Garrett Billings have each played in three of the Thunder’s 10 games, with Dobbie scoring 11 goals and 18 points while Billings has a goal and 14 points, but both were absent from the line-up in the back-half of the doubleheader, and their absence was missed, especially playing in such a hostile environment such as the Burrard’s, Jensen said.

That contributed to too many unforced errors which a veteran team like Maple Ridge is going to take advantage of.

The Thunder’s biggest problem through the first 10 games of the 18-game season has been their lack of a consistent effort, as they are showing glimpses of their potential, but failing to deliver a 60-minute effort.

“We are just not playing consistent lacrosse, and that is what separates us from the big boys,” Jensen said.


For more information:

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