Langley Thunder’s Jordan Dance rubbed shoulders with Maple Ridge Burrards’ Daniel Amesbury during Sunday’s Western Lacrosse Association game at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge.

Langley Thunder outscored by Maple Ridge Burrards in WLA opener

Langley’s defence struggled against a physical, up-tempo Maple Ridge foe.

Despite their best efforts, the Langley Thunder simply couldn’t catch up to the host Maple Ridge Burrards in the 2016 Western Lacrosse Association season opener for both teams.

The Burrards led from start to finish in an 11-7 victory, in front of a sizable crowd of senior A boxla fans Sunday at Maple Ridge’s Planet Ice.

“Overall there were some good things that we did, and obviously there were some things that we need to work on,” Thunder head coach Darcy Rhodes said. “With a young group there’s a learning curve and it’s just getting that experience under our belt. We’ll grow as a unit and work on the things that we need to.”

The game had an ongoing pattern with the Burrards scoring in bunches to give themselves some breathing room, the Thunder rallying to either tie the score or get within a couple of goals, and Maple Ridge pulling away again with another cluster of goals.

The score was tied 2-2 late in the first period, but that was as close as the Thunder would come.

Maple Ridge owned the middle portion of the game, scoring four unanswered goals to take a 6-2 lead.

After another Langley comeback that saw the visitors close the gap to 6-5, the Burrards grabbed the reins again, outscoring the Thunder 5-2 the rest of the way.

Luke Gillespie led the Burrards’ offence with four goals and two assists.

Tom Johnson and Mike Mallory each tallied a pair for the Burrards.

Burrards goaltender Charles Claxton made 35 saves and was named third star of the game.

The young Thunder team is missing some of its star power from past years – veteran offensive leaders Athan Iannucci and Alex Turner both won’t be returning this year, while team captain Brett Mydske is playing for the Saskatchewan Rush, who are in the National Lacrosse League Champion’s Cup series against the Buffalo Bandits.

Rhodes said the Thunder recruited players who are eager to step up to the next level in their lacrosse pursuits, adding, “the ones who are hungry and understand they have to put the hard work in and give all they have on the floor for the Thunder this year.”

Against Maple Ridge, Jordan Dance led the Thunder with three goals, while James Rahe scored once and added four assists.

Home opener June 1

Next up for the Thunder is a Saturday night visit to the Coquitlam Sports Centre,  where they’ll be taking on the Adanacs.

The Thunder’s home opener is next Wednesday, June 1, when they host the Burnaby Lakers at the Langley Events Centre.

Game time is 7:45 p.m.

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