It was fun while it lasted.
The Langley Thunder was perched alone on top of the Western Lacrosse Association standings late Wednesday night following its 16-11 win over the Maple Ridge Burrards at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
This marked the first time the 2011 WLA playoff champion Thunder had led the league’s regular season standings, since the team relocated from the North Shore in 2004.
By Sunday, the Thunder had company.
There’s now a log jam atop the league standings, with the Thunder, Victoria Shamrocks, and Burnaby Lakers having 12 points each.
The Thunder wasn’t able to help its own cause, falling 12-4 to the host Coquitlam Adanacs Saturday at the Coquitlam Sports Centre.
Missing key point producer Lewis Ratcliff (work commitments), the Thunder was shut out over the final period of play, allowing the Adanacs to run away with the contest.
It was anybody’s game until the second half of the middle period. Langley’s Shayne Jackson scored at the 11:24 mark of the second period to bring the Thunder to within a goal of the Adanacs, at 5-4.
Coquitlam scored the final three goals of the middle frame and then tallied four unanswered goals during the third period.
“We just couldn’t get over the top,” Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said. “We were very undisciplined. We had breakdowns in all areas. It wasn’t one of our best but we’ll learn from that. We didn’t anticipate going through a perfect season.”
The Adanacs led 3-1 after the first period and 8-4 after 40 minutes.
Coquitlam’s Dane Dobbie was unstoppable, scoring five times and adding two assists while firing 13 shots on goal.
Athan Iannucci scored twice for the Thunder. Jackson and Ryan McMichael had the other Thunder goals.
The Thunder, which dropped to 6-4 with Saturday’s loss, will look to get back into the win column tomorrow (June 27) when it hosts the New Westminster Salmonbellies at the LEC. Game time is 7:45 p.m.
After that is a rare Saturday night home game, as the Thunder hosts Victoria. Game time is 7 p.m. at the LEC.
Thunder 16, Maple Ridge Burrards 11
It was just after 10 p.m. on Wednesday and the vibe at opposite ends of the LEC was markedly different.
On one side, you heard loud music and boisterous chatter emanating from the Langley dressing room.
Minutes earlier, the Thunder had finished off the Maple Ridge Burrards by a 16-11 count.
“I thought we played really well,” Jensen said. “We had a couple lapses, they got a couple shorthanded goals, but if I asked either goalie if they were happy with their game, they would say no. We get the regular goaltending, what they’re capable of doing, then I think we run away with this.”
Stroll through the hallway to the visitors’ side, and you hear very little, except the low voices of the coaches, having a pow-wow outside their dressing room.
Maple Ridge’s players and coaches were in a dour mood, after falling to 1-8-1. The Burrards sit dead last in the seven-team WLA, and have a long, arduous climb out of the cellar, if they ever make it out. By weekend’s end, sixth place Nanaimo was six points clear of Maple Ridge, with a 4-3-1 mark.
“Good in parts, but not enough of a consistent effort,” said a frustrated Burrards’ head coach Daren Fridge.
Simply put, Maple Ridge couldn’t keep the ball out of its net. A porous defence makes for an ideal victim for a Thunder roster teeming with talent at both ends of the floor.
“You’re going against a potent, high-powered offence like that, where [the Thunder’s Athan] Iannucci and [Lewis] Ratcliff were dictating play in the first, I felt we responded really well in the second but unfortunately… we’re working through some issues, here. All of it is a bunch of excuses. It’s just whining so I’d rather not go into great detail. Our goal-scorers have to do their part and we’re definitely not aggressive enough on defence. And tonight our goaltenders didn’t do their job.”
The Thunder outscored the Burrards 6-3 in the first period and 5-3 in the final frame. The teams traded five goals each during the second period.
The score would have been even more lopsided if not for late goals from Maple Ridge’s Riley Loewen and Jarrett Davis to round out the night’s scoring.
Maple Ridge had its moments, and trailed by two, 10-8, late in the second period before Thunder captain Matt Leveque scored an empty netter with three seconds remaining in the frame.
The opening half of the third period belonged to the Thunder, which scored five goals to the Burrards’ one over the first nine minutes and change.
“I was really happy with the way the third period went,” Jensen said. “We know we’re strong, we’ve just got to keep pushing ourselves to play hard and make good decisions.”
Jackson dominated and finished with three goals and two assists. Ratcliff and Iannucci had two goals and four assists apiece, Brett Hickey tallied twice and had three assists, while Joel McCready and McMichael each potted a pair for the home team. Brett Mydske, Leveque, and Alex Turner – who added four assists – rounded out the Thunder goal-scorers.
Loewen notched a hat trick and had an assist while Davis scored twice and added two assists for the Burrards. Randy Daly, Sam Cook, Simon Giourmetakis, Brandon Bertoia, Creighton Reid, and Tyler Codron scored singles for the visitors.
The Burrards continue to miss Curtis Dickson, who led the team in scoring in 2011 with 46 goals and 78 points while helping Maple Ridge to an 8-10 record.
“If our best player ever plays his first game, things could change,” Fridge remarked.