Salmonbellies split games on Vancouver Island

New West drops third in a row to Victoria before bouncing back with transition win in Nanaimo

New Westminster fell to second place in the Western Lacrosse Association following a weekend split on Vancouver Island.

The senior A Salmonbellies dropped an 18-8 matchup to a fully complemented Victoria Shamrock club on Saturday, before salvaging the two-game set with a 14-11 win in Nanaimo on Sunday against the host Timbermen.

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The .500 split left New West with a 6-3-0 record at the half-way mark of the season.

“(Victoria) is a good team, but they actually worked hard,” said New Westminster head coach Steve Goodwin. “Like I’ve said before, it comes down to we have to outwork (teams).”

Jordan McBride tallied in the opening minute against the ’Rocks, but Victoria responded with the next six, finishing the first period ahead 5-1.

Luke Gillespie scored a pair of even-strength markers two minutes apart to halve the deficit to 6-3 early in the middle frame, but Victoria replied with seven more in a wide-open 12-goal second period.

Eric Penney took over from starter Alexis Buque in the third period.

Corey Small, who leads nearly every single offensive league category, including game stars, and Jesse King led the Shamrocks with three goals and five assists apiece. Dan Dawson was also a big contributor, scoring once while adding six helpers.

Gillespie led the ’Bellies with a four-point night, while Logan Schuss and McBride, with a hat trick, finished with three points apiece.

In Nanaimo, a different group of Salmonbellies made their presence felt, responding with six goals from transition play.

Richard Lachlan potted a game-high four goals to move into second place in team scoring with 13 markers to date.

Second star Tyler Crompton had two goals and two assists, while defender Jeff Cornwall tallied his first three goals this season.

Earlier in the season, New West was beating teams with its running game and Saturday’s win was a good reminder of how the club needs to play, said Goodwin.

“(We talked about) on Saturday, coming out and leaving it on the floor,” said Goodwin. “We worked hard.”

Buque bounced back from Saturday’s loss with a 40-save performance before leaving late in the game to post his league-high fourth win this season.

New Westminster took an early 3-0 lead and managed to hang on to the advantage for the remainder of the contest despite Nanaimo’s reluctance to roll over and concede.

Third star Mac Johnston shaved the deficit to 5-3 to end the first half and Tyson Roe got the T-Men to within a single marker with six minutes left in the middle period, before Lachlan spoiled any chance of a comeback with a natural hat trick that stretched into the final stanza.

The third-year righthander then sparked a five-goal Salmonbellie run midway through the third, with his fourth of the game from Colton Clark. Cornwall got the game winner with his hat-trick goal at the eight-minute mark of the period.

But New West is not out of the woods just yet.

On Thursday, the Salmonbellies host a return match against Victoria at Queen’s Park Arena. The following night they are in Burnaby for a tilt with the steadily improving Lakers at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. Both games are 7:45 p.m. starts.

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