The New Westminster Salmonbellies kept themselves poised for final playoff push with an 11-4 victory over the Port Coquitlam Saints in B.C. Junior Lacrosse League last week.
Josh Byrne made his return to the junior Salmonbellies roster, garnering a game-high six points, including four goals. Byrne collected the eventual game-winning goal with his second of the game with less than four minutes left in the first period.
Jeremy Bosher also made his presence felt on the right side with four counters, including the game’s first goal midway through the opening period.
New West led 5-1 after one period and 7-2 after 40 minutes, as Salmonbellie starter Michael Flintoff made 29 saves with a 0.879 save percentage.
Nathan Stewart and Connor Robinson both chipped in with three assists apiece. Matt Symes had a hat trick for the junior A Saints.
Although still ensconced in fourth place, home floor in the playoffs is not out of reach for the junior Salmonbellies.
The New West junior A club are just one win behind third-place Victoria, with both teams having six games left to play in the regular season.
The Salmonbellies hold the season-series edge over the junior Shamrocks and have two upcoming matchups with the second-place Delta Islanders that could well decide which team ends up runner-up to runaway leader Coquitlam at 14-1-0.
New West lost to Delta 9-4 early in the season, but the Islanders have shown inconsistency in their last 10 games, winning just half of them.
The Salmonbellies on the other hand are 7-3 over the same period, including wins in their last four out of five. The only loss coming in a 10-6 defeat to the junior Adanac’s last week.
Two statistics may prevent New Westminster from reaching its goal.
The scoring numbers for the ’Bellies are amongst the bottom four in the league, and while the team’s penalty kill is sound, its power play is also in the lower half of the ladder.
New West could erase those concerns with a win over the lowly Burnaby Lakers on Tuesday at Queen’s Park Arena. Game time is 8 p.m.
The junior ’Bellies then take on the Islanders at the Ladner Arena on Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. tilt and Nanaimo the following day at Queen’s Park in a 5 p.m. start.