Rocks Open Semi-Final With Win

by Janice Huckin

Game 1 opened the B.C. Tier 1 Junior B League semi-finals for the Victoria Shamrocks and they came away with a hard-fought 8-7 win over the visiting Delta Islanders at home Saturday.  The Rocks led 4-3 and 6-4 by period on the way to the victory as the game was close throughout.

Starting goaltenders were Nolan Dalep for the Shamrocks and Ashton Leclair for the Islanders and it was Victoria getting on the scoreboard first as Davis McCulley scored from outside the dotted line at 6:06 after two successful penalty kills.  Carson Echlin made it 2-0 for the home team at 15:52, getting in close.  Delta replied with a pair of their own, Rhys Porteous tallying at 16:10 from the dotted line and then Keegan Kozack getting in close just 9 seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff to tie the game at 2.  The teams traded goals, Logan Wright getting in close, faking and shooting at the 17-minute mark to give the home team the lead, only to have Ben McDonald once again knot the score, finishing off some quick passes in close at 17:57, that goal coming on the power play.  Victoria managed to add one to their side of the ledger before period one ended, Rhys MacDonald scoring on a bouncer from inside the dotted line at 19:13 to give the home team the slim 4-3 lead after 20 minutes despite being outshot 19-12 in the period.

Victoria looked like they might run away with things in the middle frame although there were no goals in the first half of the period.  They did come up with a pair of power play goals when Delta was assessed a 5-minute major at 11:56 as Evan Law tallied at 12:17, finishing off some good ball control in close.  That was followed up by Jonathon Boyd’s power play marker at 12:29, that goal coming off a faceoff win and loose ball pickup.  Before the period ended, Porteous replied for the Islanders, his power play goal coming at 16:12, getting in close.  Shamrocks had the edge in shots on goal 17-10 in the period and would take the 2-goal lead into the second intermission.

Things can change quickly in lacrosse and they did just that as Delta came out for period 3 and got 2 quick goals within a span of 22 seconds to tie the score.  Porteous picked up his hat trick marker at 4:25 from outside the dotted line and Devyn Zunti would add another at 4:47 from in close and suddenly we had a 6-6 tie.  Victoria’s power play responded at 11:08, Graham Goodfellow regaining the lead from in close.  MacDonald picked up his second of the game at 12:34, crossing in front and beating Leclair with a low shot to allow the Rocks some breathing room.  They would need that as McDonald picked up his second of the game for the visitors at 19:30 with the extra attacker and the goaltender on the bench and, despite pressing for the equalizer that would give the Shamrocks the slim 8-7 win and a 1 game to none lead in the best-of-three series.  The Islanders led the Rocks in shots on goal by a 20-9 margin in the period and 49-38 overall.

Rhys MacDonald had a good night offensively for the Shamrocks and was the only player to score more than once, coming up with a 2-goal performance off transition.  Carson Echlin added a goal and 2 helpers with other goals coming from Davis McCulley, Jonathon Boyd, Logan Wright, Evan Law and Graham Goodfellow.  Cameron Lumb chipped in a pair of assists and Nolan Dalep had a very strong outing between the pipes, making 42 saves to pick up the win.

Game 2 of the series takes place Sunday on the mainland.  Victoria can sweep the series with a victory but, if a third and deciding game be required, it is scheduled for 5:00 pm on Tuesday, July 23 at the Q Center.