A moment in time lost
If this was indeed Burnaby's moment to shine in the Western Lacrosse Association then it came and went in a blink of an eye.
Last week, the senior A Lakers went from a team that gave the glimmer of a possible league winner, to a club that is now holding on for dear life to its playoff life.
It all went wrong for the the Lakers following back-to-back losses to New Westminster, 13-12 in overtime, and then an utterly devastating third-period collapse to the Maple Ridge Burrards.
At Queen's Park, Burnaby held a two-goal lead midway through the final period but lost that advantage quickly only to regain the advantage again on Eli McLaughlin's short-handed marker in the final minutes.
But with 12 seconds to go, Burnaby failed to hold onto that lead and in the extra time were slow off the mark and surrendered a pair of very early Salmonbellie counters in the first half minute of overtime that stood up as the game winners.
The following day, the 9-7 failure against the visiting Burrards was even more emphatic.
After taking a 6-1 lead at the halfway stage of the contest at the Bill Copeland Sports centre, the Lakers mustered just a single goal the rest of the way as Maple Ridge outscored Burnaby 8-1 over that span, staging an incredible third-period comeback with seven goals in the final 20 minutes.
Those losses left Burnaby three and four points, respectively, adrift of the leaders Maple Ridge and Victoria in the race for first place with four games remaining on the schedule.
But perhaps more damaging than the disappointing loss in positioning is what effect the setbacks might have on the arguably fragile Laker psyche heading into the final two weeks of the schedule.
Burnaby's next two games are against the Victoria Shamrocks and will be anything but easy for a Laker club that desperately needs points to ensure a top-three placement.
The upcoming games against the Shamrocks could also be a precursor to the first round of playoffs and yet another possible post-season meeting with a Victoria club that has bettered Burnaby in the past six playoff meetings, including a 4-1 victory over the Lakers in the 2004 championship final.
Burnaby took Victoria to a seventh game before falling in the opening round of last season's playoffs.
The only playoff win for Burnaby over a Victoria team was a first-round 4-3 victory over Payless in 1992.
But there is nary a player on the current Lakers lineup that is old enough to remember that one-and-only post-season win over the Island club.
Preparing for a playoff push, Burnaby will certainly get the requisite four games in for teammates Tyler Digby, Josh Sullivan and Ilija Gajic.
But time is running out for left-hand sniper Josh Byrne to get three more indoor games in to make him eligible for the playoffs.
Burnaby's first-round pick in 2016 is currently lighting it up for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of the outdoor pro Major Lacrosse League and had a six-goal, seven-point game MVP performance in a one-goal loss to Florida on July 15.
However, two Burnaby players have been on form despite the two losses.
Robert Church collected his third and fourth hat-tricks this season last week, garnering seven goals and two assists in the back-to-back losses.
Over the same period, Scott Jones had five goals and six total points, including his third three-goal game of the season in the OT loss in New Westminster.
Burnaby plays just once this week, hosting the Shamrocks at the Copeland centre on Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James