Jr. 'Bellies' season ends in a tight thriller in Victoria

The New Westminster junior A Salmonbellies put it all out on the floor, but the Victoria Shamrocks put one more in the net.

By a 9-8 margin, the host Shamrocks knocked New West out of the playoffs on Wednesday in Game 7 of their semifinal and advanced to the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League championship series.

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Because B.C. is also playing host to the Minto Cup tournament, the win also guarantees Victoria a spot in the national series along with defending Minto champion Coquitlam.

While they scored first, the 'Bellies spent a good portion of the night in chase mode, as the Shamrocks shot out to a 5-2 lead midway through the second period. The visitors were diligent in battling back, on markers by Gabe Procyk, Will Malcom and Jacob Patterson in the span of 1:11, and briefly stood even at 5-5.

But just 2:23 later, Victoria replied and corraled a 6-5 lead into the third period, and made it a two-goal margin three minutes into the final stanza. Once more, Patterson and Procyk, the latter shorthanded, pulled New West even with the Island rival, but Ben Preston and Jackson Boyd lifted the hosts back ahead by two with 6:04 remaining.

With a little more than three minutes on the clock, Erik Maas got the 'Bellies within a goal, but they were unable to squeeze out the equalizer.

Cam Dunkerley turned aside 37 New West shots, while fellow Ontario import Kyle Hebert was equally as solid at the other end, stopping 39 Victoria shots.

Malcom and Patterson finished with four-point nights, while Kieran McKay collected the other goal.

New West, who had forced a seventh game with a dramatic 5-3 win on Sunday, and Victoria had finished the regular season tied at 14-7-0.

Victoria and Coquitlam now square off for provincial bragging rights, with their best-of-three final starting Saturday, 2 p.m. at the Poirier Sports Centre in Coquitlam.

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