Jr. 'Bellies' playoff match-up still up in the air

Although they don’t know who their first-round dance partner will be, the New Westminster junior A Salmonbellies are ready to rumba.

The B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League team closes out the regular season with two games this weekend and a shot at securing home floor advantage in the first round.

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They could finish as high as second and low as fourth, but what New West would like to have is some more feel-good moments to pump up the playoff momentum.

On the heels of Tuesday’s 10-8 victory over Delta, where Will Malcom scored three goals and set up three more, the junior ’Bellies head into first-place Coquitlam on Friday hoping to make an impression.

They also hope to get recently acquired Kyle Hebert on a roll. The Ontario netminder, who joined the club last week in a transfer with Oakville of the Ontario junior A circuit, has played four times and had to learn the subtle differences between the two leagues on the run.

His debut with New West came 10 days ago in a 10-4 decision over Burnaby, where Hebert stopped 31 of 35 shots.

Against Delta, Gabe Procyk’s shorthanded tally with 5:46 left in the middle frame broke a 5-5 tie, just 2:23 after the Islanders had erased a two-goal deficit to draw even.

Tre Leclaire finished with a pair of tallies and five assists, while Ben Stewart and Procyk finished with two apiece. Hebert started the game and turned aside 20 of 25 shots, with Keegan Melenychuk stepping in to block 20 more shots in the win.

Delta’s Matt Hills made 46 saves.

On the weekend, New West split a series against Island opponents, edging Nanaimo 9-8 in the Hub City on Sunday, a day after the ‘Bellies fell 15-10 to Victoria at Queen’s Park.

In the win, Malcom’s marker with 1:19 remaining proved to be the difference in a crucial battle with the fourth-place Timbermen.

The 2018 first team all-star posted another three-goal, three-assist game, while Leclaire contributed two goals and two helpers. Registering seven assists was Eric Maas, while Hebert turned aside 26 shots in the win.

Victoria proved too hard to contain last Saturday, rolling up a 5-2 lead after 20 minutes and maintained their lead the rest of the afternoon.

Ty Yanko, acquired from Burnaby at the trade deadline, made his debut in ‘Bellies colours a good one, scoring four times, as New West outshot Victoria 62-53.

The Shamrocks’ goalkeeper, Cam Dunkerley, kicked out 52 shots.

Who their first-round opponent will be remains undetermined, but it’s looking more and more like they’ll need to make a reservation on BC Ferries.

New West and Victoria share second place with 13-6 records, although the Shamrocks hold the tie-breaker after winning their series 2-1. Nanaimo is fourth at 12-7, and could still leapfrog into second place, while Langley has an outside shot at catching the T-men.

Following Friday’s game in Coquitlam, the ‘Bellies wrap up the regular season on Sunday, 7:30 p.m. in Langley.

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