Junior 'Bellies clobber 'Rocks, now set sights on A's

When things are humming along, it makes for a happy tune.

The New Westminster junior Salmonbellies are playing in harmony right now, and that's a great sound as the team begins the assent to next month's playoffs.

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By vanquishing the visiting Victoria Shamrocks 11-4 on Sunday at Queen's Park, New West displayed strong foundations at each area.

Considering the Shamrocks were the ones to hand the 'Bellies their last loss -- an 11-9 defeat just over two weeks ago on the Island -- the resounding response can only be chalked up as a positive.

"Offensively we played really well, and have been playing pretty well, for the last while," remarked New West coach Rich Catton. "We had a little bit of a hiccup against Port Coquitlam (a 9-8 win a week ago) but they've worked through it."

Just 2-0 after 20 minutes, the game really opened up in the middle frame when Will Malcom counted his first of two on the night on a powerplay just 57 seconds into the second period. While Victoria would reply at the 5:08 mark, the 'Bellies stormed the 'Rocks' zone for the remainder of the frame, scoring six times. A couple of the goals came on transition, while the defence did a sterling job of limiting the areas that Victoria's talented snipers could access.

The lead was 10-1 early in the third before Victoria notched their second of the night.

Eight players contributed in the goal scoring, led by Malcom's two goals and three assists. Erik Maas and recently acquired Jacob Patterson finished with two goals apiece, while Drew Andre Cam Garlin, Tre Leclaire, Jake Stott and Jordan Trottier added singles.

Keegan Melenychuk would turn aside 34 shots in the win, while New West shooters fired 66 shots at the Shamrock net.

It was the team's fourth straight win, and eighth in the past nine games. They currently sit third overall in the B.C. circuit, with a 9-4 record.

To go along with resoundly shutting down the Shamrocks, the club consumated a deal with the Burnaby Lakers that added more depth to the New West arsenal.

New West received their piece of an earlier swap with the Lakers in the form of Sam La Roue, the first overall pick in the 2019 Midget Draft. La Roue, a native of Surrey, was the return for a trade earlier in the weekend that sent Shane Carey and future considerations north. In his first year of junior eligibility, LaRoue has tallied 13 goals and 25 assists over 15 games with the Lakers, including the game-winning goal in Burnaby's come-from-behind 13-10 win over Delta.

Coupled with the return of defender and fourth-year vet Emmett Donahoe, the lineup has been bolstered with an eye on a lengthy playoff run.

Catton says the moves, and possible moves to come, will continue to boost the club's chances down the road.

"The management does a good job in trades and player personnel moves," he noted. "It's our job as coaches to integrate newcomers into the lineup, help them learn the system and make some tough (roster) decisions on utilizing what we have. With the numbers we have it makes things tougher, we have to sit down with players and talk about deployment, roles and what the plan is."

La Roue may be in the lineup for Tuesday's tilt against first-place Coquitlam, which gives the host 'Bellies a chance to avenge last month's 8-7 loss at Queen's Park.

"Coquitlam brings an aggressive, quick style, just as we do, so it should be a good game," added Catton.

Tuesday's game at Queen's Park faces off at 8 p.m.


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