Jr. 'Bellies go down fighting

New Westminster takes Game 3 of B.C. Junior Lacrosse League semifinal to overtime before falling to Adanacs

The New Westminster Salmonbellies played their best in Game 3 of their B.C. Junior Lacrosse League playoff, but it proved not enough.

The Salmonbellies had their junior A post season abruptly ended following an 11-8 loss to the league champion Coquitlam Adanacs in their best-of-five semifinal at the Coquitlam Sports Centre on Wednesday.

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Coquitlam will now await the winner of the other semifinal between the Victoria Shamrocks and the Delta Islanders. Delta currently leads the series 2-0.

New Westminster fell behind 3-1 early in the opening period but found its legs in the middle frame, clawing back to a single-goal deficit on Connor Robinson’s first of two power-play goals midway through the period.

Minutes later, Nathan Stewart, who had a four-point night, sparked a two-goal mini run that ended the period with Dane Sorensen’s game-tying counter at the right crease with two ticks remaining on the time clock.

Deadlocked heading into the final period, Johnny Pearson sniped the 8-7 go-ahead goal on a screened shot from the outside midway.

That goal held up until the final minutes, when league scoring champion Cole Shafer knotted the contest from the right side.

In overtime, it was Shafer again, who made the difference, beating New West goalie Kevin Orleman with a deft behind the back shot in close, after a turnover in the New West end gave Coquitlam a pivotal second-chance opportunity.

Shafer completed the game-winning natural hat trick with a shot that found its way past Orleman. Challen Rogers put the game away with goal into an empty net.

“It (bleeping) sucks to be honest,” said New Westminster captain Tyrell Hamer-Jackson after the game. “We put everything aside to get to this game, but we came out a little short today.

“They were capitalizing on their chances and on our errors.”

Jeremy Bosher led the ’Bellies with a five-point game, while Shafer and late Kitchener/Waterloo pickup Chris Cloutier also garnered five points apiece, including individual hat tricks.

Orleman played well in the Salmonbellies cage, stopping 41 shots in his best playoff outing of the series.

Christian Del Bianco handled 38 shots for the Adanacs.

This season was more of a struggle for the junior Salmonbellies than last year, said Hamer-Jackson.

“We had to work harder and when we didn’t work hard, it showed,” he said. “Every game, we had to match (the work ethic) of the other team. We gave it our all today. We were right there with them. We came into the third (period), saying we had to win the period - we tied - and then had to win another one.”

Delta could close out its best-of-five semifinal in Victoria on Saturday. If necessary, a Game 4 would be played at the Ladner Leisure Centre on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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