Thunder strike first, take series opener 14-6

by Gary Ahuja

Captain Connor Robinson scored six times as the Langley Thunder defeated the Nanaimo Timbermen 14-6 in game 1 of the Western Lacrosse Association best-of-five semi-final series at Langley Events Centre on August 1. Ryan Molag LEC photo

Judging how his game 1 performance went, Connor Robinson may just run 10 kilometres more often.

The Langley Thunder captain returned to the line-up after a five-game absence and scored a sock trick to lead his team to a convincing 14-6 win over the visiting Nanaimo Timbermen.

The teams were playing the opening game of their Western Lacrosse Association semi-final series on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre.

Robinson last played on July 9 and watched as his team went 2-3 in his absence, including dropping a pair of games against the Timbermen.

“It was awful. I hate watching lacrosse – it is so much more fun playing; it is too stressful in the stands. That is why I play lacrosse, why I don’t coach,” he said.

“I felt like I was letting the team down being out of the line-up. It is nice to come back and make an impact right away (but) the credit can’t go to me – there are four other guys that are (helping me get) open, giving me the opportunity to have that shot to score those goals.

“Whether they are setting the picks or feeding me the ball, it was an awesome effort today by our entire offence.”

Healthy and ready to go for game 1, Robinson did have to endure running 10 kilometres on Sunday in full football gear as a team punishment for coming in last place in their fantasy football league.

“I had an awful fantasy football season, so the fellas and I met up in the Port Moody breweries and they strapped me up in some football gear and I ran a little 10k on Sunday,” he said.

“It was a nice warm-up, get the legs back, get them under me, get that first sweat, that first hard run out of the way. Honestly, it prepared me for this game (but) next year, I have to win more than two games,” he said with a chuckle.

Whether it was the Sunday run or not, Robinson and Langley came out with purpose on Tuesday with the team getting three opportunities on their first possession and after Devlin Shanahan stopped the first two shots, Robinson buried his first 36 seconds into the contest.

He doubled the lead less than five minutes later and after Zach Manns cut the score to 2-1 with a power-play goal, Chase Scanlan, Robert Church and Robinson each tallied in a span of 1:39.

Robinson tacked on one more to end the period and then opened the second with his fifth of the game. Jacob Motiuk and Scanlan (with a pair) would then strike for another three goals, this time in 1:33.

Colton Lidstone, Jon Phillips and Manns (with his second) did cut the deficit to 10-4 before Curtis Dickson and Church responded for the Thunder with goals 50 seconds apart to make it 12-4 after two periods.

Each team scored twice in the final 20 minutes with Nathan Grenon and Phillips tallied for the visitors while Dickson and Robinson responded for the Thunder.

Frank Scigliano made 51 saves as the Thunder were outshot 57-47, with Robinson (6-0), Dickson (2-4) and Scanlan (3-3) each registering six-point games while Church (2-2) and Kinnear (0-4) had four-point games.

“Frank has been our MVP all season long. He stopped the ones that he is supposed to stop and then he made saves on some that he’s not supposed to. We never worry about Frank; we always know he is going to be steady and it calms the defence knowing that he is behind us,” said Langley coach Curt Malawsky.

The coach also added that having their captain back was a big boost for the team.

“He is our leader. He is great in the dressing room and outstanding on the floor and we missed him. He shoots the ball very, very well; he is a very responsible player, a very intelligent player. He is our captain for a reason and the guys love him. He is the straw that stirs the drink, and it was great to have him back.”

Manns led the Timbermen with two goals and two assists while Phillips had two goals and one assist. In goal, Devlin Shanahan allowed eight goals on 23 shots while Justin Geddie surrendered six goals on 24 shots. Nanaimo did lose a pair of key defenders in the first period as both Adam Wiedemann and Tyson Roe went down with injury and did not return.

Nanaimo did convert four of their six power-play opportunities while Langley was 1-for-3.