Thunder crowned champs

by Gary Ahuja

Ryan Molag LEC photo

The Langley Thunder are the 2022 Western Lacrosse Association champions. 

The Thunder used an 8-0 run bridging the first and second periods to break open a tie game and defeat the Nanaimo Timbermen 11-5 on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre in game five of the WLA Finals to win the best-of-seven series four games to one.

The championship is the third in the history of the organization and comes 10 years after their last title (2012).

Dane Dobbie was the first star of the game with a pair of goals and four points while Curtis Dickson paced the Thunder attack with four goals. Chase Scanlan (two goals, one assist) and Connor Robinson (two goals) each potted a pair and Matt Abbott finished with a goal and an assist. He was also dominant in the face-off circle, winning 15 of 19 draws.

“It is awesome. I haven’t done it (winning a WLA championship) in my career. Getting out of the west is very difficult. We played against two great teams there. Nanaimo gave us a good fight. They are fast, they are young, and they move the ball well,” Dobbie said. 

Dobbie was named the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs as he finished with 62 points and an average of 6.2 points per game but was quick to deflect credit, stressing that it should have gone to goaltender Frank Scigliano.

“It should have (gone) to Frank. Frank’s goals against was like eight a game. Our offence is our offence, but our young defence is playing unbelievable and Frank’s the backbone back there. We are excited to get some practices in and see who we play against,” Dobbie said.

Scigliano posted an 8.79 goals against average and WLA-best .832 save percentage over the Thunder’s 11 playoff games.

The Timbermen had fallen behind 3-0 in the series but staved off elimination with a convincing 12-6 win in Nanaimo on August 25. A victory in game five would have sent the series back to Nanaimo on Monday. Langley was coming off a six-game series win in the opening round over the Victoria Shamrocks meaning another game would have been their sixth trip to Vancouver Island in a span of 24 days.

“We knew we weren’t good on the island (in game four). We just wanted to come back and start playing our game and bring the intensity right off the bat,” Dobbie said.

“Travelling over to the island for two straight series wears on you. This was a big one for us, we knew going back there was going to be a lot tougher, so we really wanted to put the pedal down tonight.”

The Timbermen led just once after opening the scoring on the game’s very first shot and the score was tied at two with just over four minutes to play in the first period, Langley scored three straight to close the opening frame and then another five-spot in the middle stanza. The Timbermen would end a nearly 29-minute scoring drought with a power-play goal late in the period to make it 10-3.

Nanaimo scored two of the three third-period goals.

Langley outshot Nanaimo 62-49 with Devlin Shanahan making 26 saves on 33 shots while Charles Claxton came in after the seventh goals and stopped 25 of 29 shots.

Colton Lidstone led the Timbermen with a goal and four points while Jon Phillips. Evan Messenger, Taggart Clark and Coady Adamson had the other goals.

The Thunder now sit and wait to see who they will face for the Mann Cup which will be hosted by the Major Series Lacrosse champion, either the Peterborough Lakers or the Six Nations Chiefs.

The Mann Cup best-of-seven series begins on September 9.