Is good home record the key to season-series tie?
A key season series is on the line tonight.
The Burnaby Lakers will want to extend their two-game win streak in the Western Lacrosse Association with a victory at home against the Maple Ridge Burrards this Friday night.
The outcome is important to the senior A Lakers on a number of different levels.
First and foremost, a fourth win at home would help Burnaby reclaim fourth place in the seven-team loop and move the team's record over .500 at the halfway mark of the summer season.
More importantly, a win over the visiting Burrards would even up the eason series and set the stage for the following Tuesday as the deciding game in the three scheduled meetings between the two clubs.
It is equally imperative that the Lakers build on last Friday's 13-10 victory over the Victoria Shamrocks, a win that made most lacrosse watchers sit up and take notice, especially following Burnaby's dismal 16-goal defeat to New West a week earlier.
Quite simply, losing at this stage of the season is not an option for last year's regular season champions.
Four of Burnaby's next five games, including tonight's, are against the top three clubs in the league – Maple Ridge, New Westminster and Victoria – and the results are critical to the Lakers final placement.
A misstep at this juncture and any hope of staying up with the leaders will likely be lost.
The first time the two teams met on June 3, Maple Ridge eked out a slim 8-6 win at home.
Although, little might be gleaned from that earlier match up. The Burrards dressed 10 players in that game that were not on the roster in last week's exciting 14-13 overtime loss to the Salmonbellies at Queen's Park. Burnaby, too, is a much changed line up from the week before.
Three things stand out when you look past the wins and losses in the standings:
- Maple Ridge has a much superior goals for and against than do the Lakers but the Burrards scoring touch has blown hot and cold in the month of June despite posting six wins. The Lakers, on the other hand, appear to have reached a point in the season, where the on-floor personnel may have finally met up with pre-season expectations.
- The Burrards league-high 220-plus minutes in penalties also offers real possibilities for Burnaby's power play should penalties become a factor. But in that eventuality, the Lakers will have to do better than their 41 per cent strike rate when on the extra man in order to take full advantage.
- Another perhaps telling statistic could be Maple Ridge's mediocre 2-2-0-1 road record when compared with the fact that Burnaby has won three of four contests when playing on the green hardwood floor at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.
However, the end result could well come down to who takes the floor tonight.
Frank Scigliano has not suited up in goal for the Burrards since the second week of this month. Nonetheless, Maple Ridge has received a lively shot in the arm with the appearance of 2017 third-round draft pick Jean-Luc Chetner, who has garnered six goals and nine points in his last two games.
With Robert Church back from a third pro lacrosse title with the Saskatchewan Rush franchise, Burnaby has good reason to be optimistic.
The presence of the star right hander was clearly apparent in last week's convincing win over Victoria at home.
Against the Shamrocks, the Lakers swung the ball from side-to-side with a conviction and aplomb that translated into real goal scoring moments and numerous second and third offensive phase opportunities.
If the Lakers bring last week's complete game, Maple Ridge has good reason to worry about its poor road record.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James