It’s been a slow and steady climb up the junior A lacrosse ladder for this season’s New Westminster Salmonbellies.
The ’Bellies finally pulled even with the second-place Delta Islanders following the team’s fourth straight win.
New West scored early and often en route to a convincing 19-7 win over the visiting Nanaimo Timbermen at Queen’s Park Arena on Sunday.
Just the day before, the junior ’Bellies came back from a 9-4 second-period deficit, staging an eight-goal third-period rally to eke out a 13-12 win over the Islanders in Ladner on Saturday.
“It’s good competition,” said junior Salmonbellies head coach Dan Perreault. “At the end of the day, we got the win. We want to be playing well and we certainy ramped it up.”
Connor Robinson scored the game-winning goal in Ladner in the final minute of play, with his second of the game.
Josh Byrne, in just his second week back from school, had a monster weekend, scoring 17 total points in the back-to-back wins.
Byrne scored five times in the win over Delta, including three in the comeback final period. He had six more against Nanaimo in a nine-point outing.
In just his third game this season, the rangy lefthander is percolating with a jaw-dropping 7.67 points per game, including 15 goals to date.
Jeremy Bosher and Johnny Pearson both scored twice against Delta, including key tallies late in the game.
Cody Nass led the Islanders with four goals and two assists.
Tyler Landry got the win in goal for New West with 24 saves in little over half a game’s work.
At home, Michael Flintoff rebounded from Friday’s start with a sound 32-save victory in goal over the T-Men.
The Salmonbellies built up an 8-3 first-period lead and then finished off Nanaimo with a seven-goal third period.
Pearson contributed eight points to the win, while Adam Dickson and Bosher had six-point outings.
The recent wins have brought the ’Bellies goal production in line with the top clubs and has resulted in a record of 8-2-0 over the team’s last 10 games.
“It’s important to play games like these. … It gets you prepared for what’s ahead,” said Perreault.
But New West’s final three games will be key to where the Salmonbellies finish off the schedule.
New West played Delta, in its final season series game with the Ladner club on Tuesday (after Recorddeadlines).
The ’Bellies then meet frontrunner Coquitlam on Friday, before finishing off their season in Burnaby against the last-place Lakers on Sunday.
Delta also has a date with the Adanacs on its season schedule.
“Home floor would be nice, but what unfolds, unfolds. We just want to be playing well,” said Perrault.
Juniors go East for help in goal
The junior A New Westminster Salmonbellies picked up a goalie from Kitchener-Waterloo of the Ontario Lacrosse Association.
Kevin Orleman, 19, has been the junior team’s starting keeper for the last two seasons, sporting a 9.27 goals per game average.