The Western Lacrosse Association’s playoff picture is as clear as your average Rorschach test – with five different teams seeing different outcomes.
With both the Burnaby Lakers and New Westminster Salmonbellies having six games in which to seal their post-season fates, and only two points separating the top-five teams, the separating factors between in or out could be one single blotch.
New West bumped its way into the top four by sweeping its two games this past week, hammering Burnaby 15-7 last Thursday, then doubling up Coquitlam 12-6 on Saturday.
Scoring the game’s first four goals and holding the high-powered Lakers off the scoresheet until 3:40 into the second period, the ‘Bellies set an early pace that Burnaby struggled to meet. The visitors did pull within a goal, thanks to a three-goal run by Graydon Bradley and Robert Church with a pair, but they couldn’t contain New West’s sharpshooters, who counted three of their own.
The game ended in an offensive display of fireworks, with four goals scored in the final 1:41.
Keegan Bal led the way with four goals and seven assists, while Jordan McBride counted four goals. Ex-Laker Justin Salt tallied twice, with singles by Mitch Jones – who racked up seven assists as well – Logan Schuss, Anthony Malcom, Mike Messenger and Austin Shanks.
The Lakers got two each from Church and Digby, and a four-point game from recent acquisition Dean Fairsall.
The Lakers would also stumble in Victoria one night later, losing 13-6 to the Shamrocks.
Just as against New West, Burnaby fell behind 3-0 in the first period and trailed 5-1 before mounting much of a response. Markers by Fairsall and Church 19 seconds apart did make it 5-3, but Victoria outscored the visitors 6-2 in the middle frame to make it a foregone conclusion.
Digby and Fairsall finished with two goals apiece.
Wrapping up its successful weekend, the ‘Bellies shook off some early pushback from the Adanacs en route to a solid win.
Goals by Quinn Mackay and Lyndon Bunio 22 seconds apart busted a 1-1 tie to propel the visitors into the driver’s seat. Although John Hofseth countered for Coquitlam to make it a one-goal game, New West finished the first period with tallies by Shanks and Bal. After the Adanacs deposited the first goal of the second period, the ‘Bellies exploded for five, including a pair by Jones.
Jones and McBride finished with hat tricks and six-point games, while Bal racked up a goal and six assists.
New West, at 7-5-0, pays a visit to Maple Ridge on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) in a game which will decide the tie-breaker, if needed, between the two teams. They’ve split their two games so far. On Thursday, the ‘Bellies host Coquitlam.
For Burnaby, who at 8-5-0 sit tied with the Burrards and Victoria – although the ‘Rocks have played one less game – for a piece of first place – the next step is Tuesday (7p.m.), when they play host to fifth place Nanaimo at the Copeland arena. The visiting Timbermen hold the same record as New West, two points back of first.
The Lakers also host Langley on Friday.