Thunder keep playoff hopes alive
It may be cliché, but it is true: all the Langley Thunder can do is focus on the next shift and the next game, nothing else.
With their playoff lives needing them to win out plus get some help on the out-of-town scoreboard, that is the reality facing the senior A lacrosse team.
Wednesday night saw the team take that first step to keeping their post-season hopes alive.
“At this point in the season, there is nothing we can really do,” admitted JP Kealey, who led Langley with three goals and one assist, earning first star honours for his efforts.
“We can just worry about what is in our control and what’s in our control is to go out every shift and play our hearts out, so that is what we will do.”
With Kealey driving the offence, the Thunder scored an impressive 11-8 victory over the Maple Ridge Burrards on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre. The win improved Langley to 5-8-1 and with 11 points, they are two back of the fourth and final playoff spot, which is held by Nanaimo (6-6-1). The Timbermen do have a game in hand and hold the tiebreaker over Langley. The loss dropped Maple Ridge’s record to 8-5-1 as they battle New Westminster for top spot in the Western Lacrosse Association standings.
The victory was Langley’s first in three tries against Maple Ridge and came with both sides missing a pair of offensive dynamos as the Thunder were without Dane Dobbie and Garrett Billings and the Burrards were absent Curtis Dickson and Ben McIntosh.
But in their absence, the Thunder’s young core stepped up.
After neither team could find the back of the net in the first 9:30, Kealey got the home side on the board with goals 68 seconds apart and Langley took a 4-2 lead to the locker room.
Maple Ridge cut the lead to 5-4 at the midway point of the game but Langley responded with four goals in less than five minutes and never looked back, leading 9-6 at the second intermission on route to the 11-8 final score.
In addition to Kealey’s four points, Connor Robinson (two goals, one assist), James Rahe (one goal, three assists), Cole Shafer (one goal, one assist) and Tyler Pace (one goal, one assist) each had multi-point games while Andrew Garant and Brandon Clelland had a goal apiece.
And in goal, Jake Sundar continued his stellar rookie season with 41 saves and a pair of assists. He is third in the WLA with an .824 save percentage.
Maple Ridge was led by two goals from Riley Loewen.
Kealey said the entire team delivered in the victory, whether it was the offence getting timely scoring, the goaltender making a clutch save or the defence limiting the Burrards offensive opportunities.
He also admitted the victory was big for the psyche, but the team also must put it in the rear-view mirror as they play in New Westminster against a Salmonbellies team currently holding down top spot in the WLA, on Thursday (July 12).
“This was a big win for our confidence. We had two games this weekend we could have won, and we dropped them,” Kealey said. “It is good to get a win but now we have to turn our focus to New West.”
Tessa Beauchamp Night
Wednesday night also marked the Thunder’s annual Tessa Beauchamp Foundation night as they wore special purple-jerseys in honour of the 18-year-old who passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer.
The Thunder auctioned off the jerseys, which were donated by Mike Vanichuk Transport, raising $1,640 for the Foundation.
For more information:
Gary Ahuja, Langley Events Centre, 604.613.5242 (cell), 604.455.8830 (office) or email.