You could make an argument that, truly, the only “must-win” a team faces in the playoffs is their elimination game.
But for the Langley Thunder, tonight’s game at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster warrants a very close second in that department.
If the Thunder lose tonight to the host Salmonbellies, they’ll fall behind three-games-to-nothing in the Western Lacrosse Association best-of-seven semifinal series.
In this scenario, the Thunder will have to beat the ’Bellies four times in a row to advance to the WLA final.
Good luck for that to happen against a team that finished second in the league standings with a 12-6 record.
The Thunder fell behind 0-2 in games after dropping a 10-5 decision to the Salmonbelllies Thursday night at the Langley Events Centre.
In game two, the Thunder put up a fight and trailed by just two, 7-5, after Pat Saunders scored at the 5:01 mark of the third period.
But any hopes of a comeback faded after the ’Bellies scored the final three goals of the game to earn the victory.
New Westminster never trailed but the Thunder put a scare into the visitors on a couple of occasions, trailing 4-3 just past the midway point of the game.
Richard Lachlan led the Salmonbellies to victory with a hat trick, while the game’s first star Eric Penny made 42 saves in the New West goal.
Saunders and Lewis Ratcliff each scored twice and one assist in a losing cause for the Thunder.
One thing is guaranteed, regardless of what happens tonight: there will be a game four and it will be played at the LEC on Monday night with a 7:45 p.m. start time.
FINAL BUZZER: With mostly roughing and slashing minors being assessed, Thursday’s game was downright peaceful compared to the fights and fireworks taking place between the Maple Ridge Burrards and first-place Victoria Shamrocks in the other WLA semifinal.