Shamrocks dash Maple Ridge Burrards title hopes

Take away the five game defeat at the hands of the Victoria Shamrocks in the Western Lacrosse Association championship series, one that the Burrards hoped would have been closer.

Then file away an ugly game two that saw numerous fights and the ensuing fallout of suspensions and fines to both teams.

Place both of those factors aside, and the Maple Ridge Burrards have much to be proud about this season.

The Burrards’ season came to an end Wednesday at the Q Centre in Victoria, where the defending champion Shamrocks capped a four-games-to-one triumph with a 9-4 win over the visitors.

To get to the title series, the Burrards clawed past a tough Burnaby Lakers squad in six games in one of two WLA playoff semifinals. The Shamrocks swept the New Westminster Salmonbellies in their semifinal match-up.

In the final, an ultra-talented and deep Shamrocks team simply proved to be too much for the Burrards in their quest to represent the west in the 2014 Mann Cup national championship series.

Maple Ridge’s lone victory in the series came Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Q Centre, an 11-9 win that narrowed the Shamrocks series lead to two games to one.

But the Shamrocks bounced back to win the next two games to finish the best-of-seven set.

Overall, this was a season of positives for the Burrards. Their bench boss Chris Gill was named WLA coach of the year after leading his squad to a third place finish in the seven-team league, with a 9-8-1 record. With Gill at the helm, the Burrards made the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

The Shamrocks were perched atop the standings at 14-2-2, followed by the Lakers at 11-7. The New Westminster Salmonbellies finished a point back of the Burrards, with a 9-9 mark.

Coquitlam and Langley (both at 7-11) and Nanaimo (4-11-1) finished out of the playoff picture.

Last season, the Burrards were on the outside looking in with an 8-10 record and in 2012, Maple Ridge finished dead last in the WLA at 4-13-1.

The 2014 season came to an end on Wednesday, with the Shamrocks building a 4-0 lead after the first period courtesy of a pair of goals from Corey Small, and single markers from former Burrard Derek Lowe and Dhane Smith.

The second period belonged to the visitors, with the Burrards having a 3-1 edge in goals to trail 5-3 after 40 minutes.

Ben McIntosh, who led the Burrards in scoring during the post-season with 27 goals (tops in the league) and 11 assists, scored two of Maple Ridge’s three markers in the second frame. Jarrett Davis had Maple Ridge’s other goal.

In the third period, McIntosh completed his hat trick with what turned out to be the Burrards final goal of the campaign.

McIntosh’s marker brought the Burrards to within two goals of the Shamrocks, trailing 6-4 with a little more than 15 minutes to go in regulation.

But this was the Shamrocks night, and series, it turns out. Victoria scored the final three goals of the game to seal the victory.

The Shamrocks will return to the best-of-seven Mann Cup, where last year in Victoria they lost in six games to the 2013 national champion Six Nations Chiefs.

The Shamrocks, who won their 19th league title, will either play Six Nations or Peterborough, which trails in its current series 3-2.

“It’s sweet,” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes. “We want Six Nations. They beat us last year and we want to go in there and [gain some revenge].”

FINAL BUZZER: Burrards netminder Frankie Scigliano took the loss Wednesday, stopping 40 of 49 shots.

Named the WLA’s 2014 goaltender of the year, the 22-year-old Coquitlam native was sensational in the Burrards’ lone win of the series on Aug. 24, making 53 saves as Victoria outshot Maple Ridge 62-37.

 

– With files from Victoria Times Colonist reporter Mario Annicchiarico

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