It wasn't easy, or pretty, but the Langley Thunder got the job done Thursday night at Burnaby's Bill Copeland Arena.
The Thunder eked past the Burnaby Lakers 11-10 to cap a four-game sweep of the Western Lacrosse Association best-ofseven semifinal.
Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said the Lakers put up quite a fight in the elimination game.
"That was their best effort," Jensen said, regarding the Lakers. "They competed hard."
Athan Iannucci's third goal of the game, scored 10: 32 into the third period, gave the Thunder an 11-9 lead and turned out to be the winner.
The Lakers crept to within one after Matt Quinton cashed in on a penalty-shot opportunity at the 19: 49 mark of the final frame.
But over the final 11 seconds of their season, the Lakers simply ran out of time in their attempt to net the equalizer.
Burnaby, which trailed 3-1 after the first period, looked poised to stave off elimination after out-scoring the visitors 6-3 in the middle frame.
"We had a good start but in the second period we took a couple of silly penalties and let them run the floor a little bit," Jensen said. "In the third period we did our thing and came back. It's one of those typical things on the road. We have had a little trouble with our second periods that we have to tidy up a little bit."
The Thunder snatched momentum back with a goal from Matthew MacGrotty and back-to-back tallies by Iannucci to move ahead by two midway through the third period.
Along with Iannucci's hat trick, Shayne Jackson scored a pair for the Thunder. Other Langley goal-scorers included McGrotty, Lewis Ratcliff, Joel McCready, Sam Cook, Tor Reinholdt, and Rob Van Beek. Garrett Billings set up five Langley's goals.
Quinton notched a hat trick while Scott Jones scored twice and added two assists for the Lakers.
Brodie MacDonald tended the nets for the first three Thunder wins. Steve Fryer was in goal for the fourth contest and made 36 saves to earn the victory.
"He would have liked a couple of goals back, but he battled right to the end which was great to see," Jensen said.
The Thunder now awaits the winner of the Victoria Shamrocks/Coquitlam Adanacs semifinal matchup.
Victoria won Sunday, tying the series at two games apiece. Jensen would like to see that semifinal go the full seven games.
Ending its semifinal early is a huge plus for the defending WLA playoff champion Thunder.
"Well, it's two fold: rest and preparation," Jensen said. "We have quite a bit of work to do to get our offence going a little bit more. We haven't really practised together, and this is what [the sweep] allows us to do."
The Thunder players are ready to play any style their next opponent will throw at them.
"If we meet Coquitlam, it's a rock 'em sock 'em bang 'em team that plays a physical style and we have guys who can play that way. Burnaby was not as physical at times and they lulled us to sleep a little bit. We're equipped to play either style."
Looking back at the semifinal series, Jensen said the Thunder benefited from the early scoring exploits of Ratcliff, who carried the offence with eight goals and four assists in the first two games.
"Lewis got us going earlier in the series," Jensen said.
The Thunder is confident heading into the second round.
"We've raised the bar," Jensen said. "Here's a team that had trouble winning [in past years]. Good things are happening with this franchise."
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