Thunder stay alive, force deciding game

by Gary Ahuja

Despite plenty of attention from the Victoria Shamrocks defence, Langley Thunder's Kyle Brunsch had a huge game on Sunday, scoring five goals and setting up two others in his team's 13-8 victory. The win sets up a third and deciding game between the two teams in the BC Junior Tier 1 Lacrosse League quarter-finals. Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre photo

It is down to a winner-take all game on Tuesday in Victoria.

The Langley Thunder used a dominant second period to ensure their season continued, scoring eight goals in the second period alone to turn a 3-3 deadlock into an 11-5 lead on Sunday afternoon at Langley Events Centre.

And after the visiting Victoria Shamrocks scored a pair of goals to open the third period, cutting the deficit to four, the Thunder stiffened defensively, allowing just one goal over the rest of the way, including none over the final 10 minutes, as they won 13-8.

The best-of-three BC Junior Tier 1 quarter-final series now shifts back to Victoria for the deciding game on Tuesday afternoon (July 16, 5 p.m.) to see which team advances to the semifinals, and which team is done for the summer.

The Shamrocks are the second seed for the playoffs thanks to their 13-4-1 victory while the Thunder came in as the seventh seed following a 7-11 season, which included a pair of losses to Victoria, 11-5 and 14-7.

In game one in Victoria on Saturday, the Thunder played the Shamrocks tough Langley led 4-3 late into the second period before giving up a pair of goals in the final four minutes, including one with just four seconds to go before intermission. Victoria then scored four straight in the third before the Thunder finally got one back in a 9-5 Shamrocks victory.

But game two would be a different story.

The teams were once again tied at three following one period but Langley put on an offensive display in the middle stanza, scoring eight times while allowing just a pair. By comparison, the Shamrocks were the second stingiest team during the regular season, surrendering just 7.56 goals against per game, a number the Thunder eclipsed in less than 20 minutes of work.

“In the second period, we started moving the ball all over the place and started going to the net,” said Langley head coach Kris Bryde on the 20 minutes which swung the momentum in favour of the Thunder.

Leading the charge in game two offensively was Kyle Brunsch, who delivered five goals and seven points, while Trevayne Hunter and Jordan Daniel both potted a pair. Chase Moore, Kanen Hunter and Tristan Kirkham rounded out the scoring with a goal apiece. Braiden Struss-Reid chipped in with three assists while Nathan Lavigne set up a pair of goals.

“The offence was going, that’s what the coaching staff wanted us to do in the first game (and) we didn’t … but today we did,” explained Trevayne Hunter.

In goal, Dryden Recsky finished with 42 saves for the victory. That came on the heels of a 54-save effort in game one, a combined .850 save percentage.

Cameron Lumb led Victoria with two goals and an assist while Matthew Hermsen had a pair of goals and Evan Law had three assists in game two.

One area the Thunder will need to improve is the fact four of Victoria’s eight goals came short-handed.

This is the second straight season Langley has faced a third and deciding quarter-final game, losing 10-9 to the Port Coquitlam Saints in 2018.

Kanen Hunter said the experience of last year, where the intensity of the game was ratcheted up, is something the team can draw on as they look to extend their season.

“And we have an older team now, we have definitely really gelled over these two years now,” he said.

The message from the coaches will be simple.

“We have to play exactly like we did today. We out-transitioned them, we played solid defensively five-on-five, we were pretty disciplined, we stayed out of the box,” Bryde said.

“And we got a lot of opportunities in the reverse transition ourselves. We just played an overall great game today and got the result we wanted.”

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For more information:

Gary Ahuja, Langley Events Centre, 604.613.5242 (cell), 604.455.8830 (office) or email.