An early key win for Burnaby
As golfer Tiger Woods once said “Winning solves everything.”
The Burnaby Lakers 6-5 comeback win over the Nanaimo Timbermen at home last Friday may not have been the prettiest victory ever, but it went a long way in keeping the senior A lacrosse club in the Western Lacrosse Association mix.
Four goals, including the game-winner on a penalty shot in the final minute of play by shifty lefthander Eli McLaughlin, propelled the Lakers past the visiting Timbermen. The win also pulled Burnaby up into a tie with Nanaimo in the WLA standings at 2-3.
The importance of the victory to the Lakers could not be overstated.
After three losses on the road and the only win of the season to date against one of the league's bottom dwellers last year, dropping another game so early in the year couldn't possibly be an option for the 2017 regular season champions.
But Friday's win could not realistically be described as a defensive struggle, nor could one emphatically argue that it was a goaltender's duel.
It is true that full measure for the win had to rest on the shoulders of winning keeper Zak Boychuk, who picked up his second straight win for the Lakers this season. The 2016 goalie of the year made 45 stops against Nanaimo, including all 14 shots on goal in the turnaround final frame.
In all, 103 shots rained down on the two netminders but Boychuk, by far, appeared the busier of the pair.
Burnaby's shot selection came mainly from the perimetre and, at best, was easy pickings for T-Man tender Mike DeGirolamo.
Only, McLaughlin seemed to have the corners in his cross hairs. The NLL pro Colorado Mammoth forward potted Burnaby's game-tying first goal of the match from the slot on a penalty shot in the first five minutes of the opening period.
McLaughlin then gave the home side its first lead of the contest six minutes into the middle period on a long screened shot.
However, the momentum quickly shifted in Nanaimo's favour with the T-men scoring two transition goals and later taking a two-goal advantage into the third period with a fourth counter off special teams play.
But McLaughlin and the Lakers weren't done.
Jared Pozzobon and Shaun Dhaliwal teamed up on a nifty flip and go to shave the deficit to one goal.
McLaughlin then knotted the contest midway through the period, tallying his hat-trick marker with a second seeing-eye snipe off a screen in front.
The winning goal found a seam on the short side as McLaughlin calmly jogged in on DeGirolamo and caught the corner with a quick forehand.
Burnaby will have to do better in the coming weeks to keep its home win streak intact.
While the Lakers have allowed just 13 goals in their last two match ups, they have managed to put only six into the opposition's net in their last two starts.
This will likely change with the long awaited return of superstar Robert Church. The Coquitlam righthander is coming off a third NLL Champion's Cup title in four seasons with the Saskatchewan Rush franchise.
Church's clever play making and wicked goal scoring presence will be greatly needed against unbeaten New Westminster when the league-leading Salmonbellies roll into town this Friday, June 15.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James