Shamrocks Clinch 1st and Drown Lakers 14-4

079A1604First place overall in the Western Lacrosse Association was clinched just prior to the Victoria Shamrocks taking the floor on Friday night against the visiting Burnaby Lakers.

The long-awaited appeal from the New Westminster Salmonbellies — who were forced to forfeit a result against the Maple Ridge Burrards for using an illegal player — came in to Victoria’s favour, securing home floor throughout the playoffs.

But it mattered not on this evening.

There was no back-door entry required, or wanted, as the Shamrocks (who weren’t aware of the upheld appeal before the game started) got off to a blistering 7-0 first period start to record a dominating 14-4 win over the Lakers.

Both Victoria (now 13-4) and New West (11-6) have just one regular-season game remaining with the Shamrocks at home Friday to the Langley Thunder. New Westminster will be at home to Burnaby on Thursday.

“It was a dominating performance tonight from offence to defence,” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes. “I thought the first-period answer for us was huge after [Thursday] night’s loss. It showed a ton of character for this team.

“It was pretty much the same lineup that we had, with no rest, which was a good thing. We didn’t have time to dwell on it.”

The Shamrocks had lost two of their last three games coming into the meeting, including 9-7 in New West on Thursday.

Concerns were beginning to grow as the team hadn’t looked itself in the last few weeks taking too many penalties, falling to control the ball in key situations and not producing enough on the power play.

On Friday, the Shamrocks tallied three times with the man advantage and once short-handed in the opening 20 minutes. Rhys Duch had a hat-trick in that opening frame wasting no time, scoring just 56 seconds in.

Duch finished with four goals and added four assists for an eight-point night. Corey Small added three goals and four assists for Victoria, while Jesse King and Dan Dawson had a pair of goals each. Daryl Veltman had a goal and four helpers and Cory Conway chipped in with four assists for the winners.

Defensively, the ’Rocks were solid with Ryan Dilks turning in an outstanding outing, creating turnovers.

The hosts were up 9-0 when the Lakers finally scored at 16:06 of the second period as Jason Jones tallied. Ilija Gajic, 14 seconds later, and Robert Church another 1:13 later gave the Lakers a bit of a run to cut it to 9-3 after 40 minutes. Church finished with two goals.

“Our defence, wow, for the first half of the game we kept them off the scoresheet and that just snaps the will of the other team,” said Heyes.

Aaron Bold improved to 3-1 in goal for the Shamrocks, making 29 saves.