Lewis Ratcliff is giving the Burnaby Lakers fits thus far in the Western Lacrosse Association playoffs.
Ratcliff, a vital piece of ammo in the Langley Thunder's shock-and-awe style arsenal, has burned the Lakers' defence during the first two games of their best-of-seven semifinal series.
Ratcliff scored five goals and added an assist in the Thunder's 9-6 win over the Lakers Friday at Burnaby's Bill Copeland Arena.
Add those totals to his three-goal, three-assist effort in the series opener (won 9-8 by the Thunder) last Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre (LEC), and Ratcliff has an eye-popping eight goals and four assists in just two games.
Ratcliff's been a point machine in recent years. With the Victoria Shamrocks in 2009, he led the WLA in regular season scoring with 43 goals and 116 points in just 18 games.
And in 2007, he ended up second in league scoring behind his Thunder teammate Athan Iannucci.
Then with the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Iannucci finished with 95 points in 17 contests, two more points than Ratcliff.
Oh yeah, then there's Iannucci.
He's been held in check, relatively speaking, by the Lakers so far in the playoffs.
Iannucci has three goals and two assists in two games.
During the Thunder's run to the WLA playoff title and Mann Cup appearance last summer, Iannucci led the Thunder with 22 goals and 35 points in 10 games. Only New West's Kevin Crowley (39 in 10 games) had more playoff points in 2011 than Iannucci.
On Friday, the Thunder led 3-0 after the first frame and 7-3 through two periods. Burnaby had a 3-2 edge in goals in the third period. Along with Ratcliff's five markers, Iannucci scored twice while Kyle Belton and Joel McCready also found the net.
Brodie MacDonald had another strong night between the pipes for the Thunder. The 2011 WLA rookie of the year stopped 31 of 36 shots.
The Thunder will look to take a 3-0 series lead tonight (Aug. 7) when they host the Lakers at the LEC. Game time is 7:45 p.m.
Thunder 9, Lakers 8
The Thunder won the opener, edging the Lakers courtesy of last-minute heroics Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre.
With the Lakers' Peter McFetridge off for high sticking, Ratcliff snapped an 8-8 tie on a Langley powerplay with 35 seconds to go in the third period.
The game-winner was Ratcliff's third goal of the night, to go along with three assists.
Shayne Jackson tallied two goals, while Iannucci, Joel McCready, and Kyle McEwen also scored for the Thunder.
The Thunder carried an 8-6 lead into the third period before the Lakers stormed back with goals from Dane Stevens and Colton Clark.
Clark's goal knotted the score at 8-8 with 2:09 remaining in regulation, to tie the game.
"We had control of the game, but we had a few mishaps and gave them a chance to get back into it, but we closed it out at the end," Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said.
"We have a veteran team and we regrouped and capitalized on the penalty."
The star-laden Thunder including National Lacrosse League veterans Iannucci, Ratcliff, and Garrett Billings is, on paper, the favourite to repeat as playoff champions of the west, but its players aren't looking past the Lakers.
While Langley won the regular season title with a 12-6 record, the Thunder finished just four points clear of fourth-place Burnaby (9-7-2).
"All we can do is get better," Jensen said. "We're in a playoff series right now. This [Lakers] team can sneak up and bite us if we're not careful here."
The third period of Wednesday's game was a good example of how dangerous this Lakers team can be. But Jensen believes the Thunder has yet to show its full arsenal.
"I'm optimistic we're going to have one of those games where everything goes good, and we build a lead and we run a team out," Jensen said. "We're just about ready."
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