'Bellies, 'Rocks start playoffs by trading road wins

It’s back to square one for both the New Westminster junior Salmonbellies and the Victoria Shamrocks.

The two B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League rivals opened the semifinals of their best-of-seven series by splitting the first two games, posting road wins last weekend.

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For New West, the momentum from a thrilling double-overtime 9-8 win in Victoria on Saturday was scuttled when the visiting Shamrocks delivered a 10-7 setback on Sunday at Queen’s Park.

The two teams meet Saturday in Victoria, and return for Game 4 Sunday at Queen’s Park Arena (4 p.m.).

In Game 1, Will Malcom provided the final heroic goal, cashing in a powerplay tally 7:26 into the second extra frame – a sudden-death period of 10 minutes.

Just prior to that, the two teams exchanged tallies over the first 10-minute overtime session, with the Shamrocks forging ahead on Teioshontathe McComber’s marker barely a minute into the period. With just 36 second left on the clock and the netminder on the bench for an extra attacker, New West’s Andrew Bishop snapped home the equalizer to force sudden death.

The ‘Bellies controlled the game for most of the first two periods, leading 2-1 on tallies by Erik Maas and Ty Yanko. After tying the game late in the first, the host ‘Rocks responded in the second period by cashing in a pair of goals in 22 seconds to jump ahead 4-2.

Malcom sparked a healthy reply, as New West closed the frame on a four-goal run to lead 6-4. They’d up that lead midway through the third on Tre Leclaire’s tally, but once again momentum shifted and Victoria pulled even by sniping three straight goals, the last one by Patrick Dodds with 5:19 remaining.

That set the stage for overtime.

Malcom finished with three goals and two assists, while Leclaire racked up a goal and five helpers. Gabe Procyk contributed a goal and four assists, Yanko tallied a four-point game and Maas finished with two markers.

A day later, it was the Shamrocks who barged ahead early and never turned back. Up 4-0 and 7-2 in a raucous first period, Victoria faced some pressure as the ‘Bellies counted four times in the middle stanza to get within a goal. However, that’s as close as New West could get, with netminder Cameron Dunkerley proving to be their main foil.

Dunkerley kicked out 48 shots on the day to backstop Victoria’s win.

Leclaire finished the day with three goals and an assist, with singles by Nick Hannay, Kieran McKay, Procyk and Yanko.

The series turns back to Victoria for Saturday’s Game 3, before returning to Queen’s Park on Sunday, 4 p.m., for Game 4.

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