'Bellies beat Thunder in WLA season opener

New Westminster hosts Coquitlam in home opener tonight (Thursday) at Queen's Park Arena

The New Westminster Salmonbellies got off on the right foot, edging Langley in the opening game of the season for both teams in the Western Lacrosse Association.

The senior A Salmonbellies never trailed in the low-scoring contest, narrowly edging the hometown Thunder 6-5 at the Langley Events Centre on Wednesday night.

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Keegan Bal, back after a modest 2014 season, led the ’Bellies with a goal and two assists, while Logan Schuss chipped in with three helpers.

Bal’s goal gave the visitors a 3-1 first-period lead after former junior ’Bellie Anthony Malcom, Langley’s first-round pick in the 2015 draft, scored the Thunder’s opening goal of the season.

Langley tied the contest in the first minute of the middle frame, but that deadlock was shortlived after Patrick Miles, an off-season pickup from the NLL Minnesota Swarm, scored his first goal as a Salmonbellie to put the Fishmen back in the lead for good.

Miles’ goal also sparked a three-goal rally that concluded with Brendan Ranford’s unassisted game-winning tally seven minutes later.

The Thunder closed the gap to 6-4 later in the period and former New Westminster juniors Alex Turner and Malcom teamed up early in the third to shave another point off the deficit, but that was as close as it got.

Steve Penney did the rest, turning away 12 Langley shots on goal in the final period and 41 overall to post his first big-league victory for the Salmonbellies.

New West opens at home tonight against the Coquitlam Adanacs. Game time is 7:45 p.m. at Queen’s Park Arena.

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