The Nanaimo Timbermen soundly beat the Langley Thunder on the floor and then tempers flared off the floor.
The T-men defeated the Thunder 12-3 on Saturday night in Western Lacrosse Association action at Frank Crane Arena, and in the final minute, players who weren’t playing in the game got into a fight in the tunnel outside the dressing rooms. The incident was serious enough that Nanaimo RCMP attended.
As for the lacrosse game, the T-men were in control all night, building up a 9-0 lead before the Thunder got three back late in the second period.
“The guys worked hard. They transitioned the ball really well, offence got spread, defence tightened up, it was an overall good game,” said Kaleb Toth, Timbermen coach.
The Thunder had beaten the T-men a week earlier, but Toth said his team played smarter lacrosse this time.
“We felt we should have beat them last weekend,” said Tyson Roe, Timbermen transition defender. “Our mindset this weekend, from the defensive end, was just come out strong defensively and let our offence take care of the rest. They did that, our transition game did really well as well and [goalie Pete Dubenski] played outstanding.”
Dubenski called Saturday’s win a “turn-around game” for the team.
“Offence put the ball in the net, defence played great in front of me, I was seeing shots and was just able to do my thing,” he said. “This is the way our team can play and we showed it. For the future, this is going to be a team that’s going to be going on a run here.”
Saturday’s contest wasn’t particularly chippy or unsportsmanlike until the off-floor altercation. Players from the two teams all happened to be heading to the tunnel at the same time and exchanged words before fighting.
Ken Buchan, Thunder president, was the one who filed the complaint to the police.
“I want something done. That’s assault…” he said. “There’s no reason to throw a punch at people. It’s just asinine. There was no reason.”
The two teams meet again on Wednesday (June 22) at the Langley Events Centre. Buchan said he’s “pissed off” at the Timbermen, but has “no clue” if Saturday’s punch-up will motivate his club in Wednesday’s rematch. The T-men said they aren’t expecting any bad blood to carry over.
“I don’t really know what happened, but we’re both competitive teams and we’re both at the bottom right now and no one wants to be there, so emotions can go high a little bit at times,” Dubenski said. “We’re both professional teams so I think we’ll just come out and compete.”
Toth said the points in the standings are the only motivation his team will need on Wednesday.
“So I don’t think it’s going to turn ugly or anything like that,” he said. “Both teams need wins to get into playoffs. We’re going to work hard and play a good, clean, fun lacrosse game and hopefully get two points.”
Dubenski made 27 saves in Saturday’s win as shots were 52-30 in favour of the home team. Ryan Lee and Randy Jones scored two goals apiece and Brody Eastwood, Cody Bremner, Doug Langlois, Conrad Chapman, Jordan Gilles, Roe, Jake Emms and Adam Backular-Evans were Nanaimo’s other scorers. James Rahe had all three Langley goals.
GAME ON … Wednesday’s game is a 7 p.m. faceoff at the LEC. Nanaimo’s next home game is Saturday (June 25), a 6 p.m. start time against the New Westminster Salmonbellies. The game is a special-event night, as the Timbermen will honour the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Nanaimo Timbermen team that won the Mann Cup. Broadcaster Jim Robson, who called the 1956 series, will be on hand, and the trophy will be in the building that night, too. Fans are invited to begin tailgating outside the arena at 4 p.m. that afternoon.