'Bellies drop fifth of six to WLA Lakers

New West Salmonbellies are in the midst of a mid-season slump following a 9-7 loss in Burnaby last week

The New Westminster Salmonbellies suffered their fifth defeat in six starts following a 9-7 upset loss to the Burnaby Lakers on Friday.

Burnaby’s come-from-behind victory over the former first-place ’Bellies at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre was New West’s fifth defeat in its last six Western Lacrosse Association games after beginning the season on a torrid 6-0 run.

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Burnaby looked ripe for the picking in the opening 20 minutes falling behind 5-3 on the scoresheet, but settled down in the final two-thirds, outscoring the visitors 6-2 the rest of the way.

Shane MacDonald, Luke Gillespie and third star Jordan McBride all scored to give the visitors a 3-0 advantage in the opening four minutes of the Western Lacrosse Association matchup.

Starter Eric Penney provided the stops the Salmonbellies needed to win, making 40 saves in the New West cage.

But after an unlucky outcome earlier in the week against Langley, Burnaby continued to show similar the emerging loose-ball skills and improving back-end play that was evident in the first two periods against the Thunder. In the end, those two strengths proved the difference in the match for the Lakers

Once again it was the inspired play of first star Robert Church, who found a way past the goalkeeping of New West’s Eric Penney.

The talented righthander opened the second-period scoring with low bouncer at the seven-minute mark and then set up Dane Stevens for the game-tying goal a minute later.

After Keegan Bal gave New West a brief one-goal lead on an off-balance shot from the right side that beat Tye Belanger, Church replied quickly, knotting the contest off the bench with a deft move on a transition counter.

Scott Jones put Burnaby in the lead for good, burying the ball behind Penney from the right crease on a power play with just seconds remaining in the period.

Jones also set up second star Jamie Lincoln at the left crease on a power play for the game winner midway through the final period.

Former Salmonbellie Peter McFetridge, with his second transition goal of the game, iced the contest scoring into an empty net with the New West keeper pulled for an extra attacker.

“We got to get some wins,” said McBride after the game.

But while the New West assistant captain was hopeful the team’s strong start will pay dividends in the final push for a playoff position, the Salmonbellies have still yet to lock up season series wins against any of the contending clubs for the remaining playoff spots behind first-place Victoria.

Church led all scorers with a six-point outing, while Lincoln had two goals and three assists and Jones chipped in with four points, including a pair of markers.

Jordan McBride, who scored on a penalty shot in the final two minutes of the contest, had a hat trick for the 7-5-0 Salmonbellies.

Burnaby is right behind with a record of 6-5-0.

“We have to buckle up,” McBride added. “We should have won that one tonight.”

New West will play host to the Maple Ridge Burrards at Queen’s Park Arena on Thursday. Game time is 7:45 p.m.

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