Lakers finish week one 1-1

The Lakers' season got off to a quick start with back-to-back games this week. 

The season opened on Thursday in New Westminster where the Lakers were on the road to face the defending WLA champion Salmonbellies at Queen's Park Arena. It should come as no surprise that the first goal of the 2024 Western Lacrosse Association season came from 2023 Rookie of the Year, Jacob Dunbar. After a follow-up tally from rookie teammate and territorial protection pick Thomas Vela, the Lakers held a 2-1 lead going into first intermission. Unfortunately for the visiting Lakers, that would be the only period when they would outscore the home team. The middle frame would see a second goal from Vela that was followed by two from fellow rookie and junior teammate Sam La Roue and the first of the season for second-year player, Ben Stewart. In the third period, Dunbar completed his hat trick with two consecutive goals followed by Stewart's second of the night.

The final score of 14-9 included two late, empty-net goals for New West. The Lakers outshot their hosts, 57-49 and goaltender Keegan Melenychuk made 35 saves on the night. Ben Stewart was named third star of the game.

The following night, the Lakers hosted their home opener at Bill Copeland Arena when the Adanacs came to town. Having won the 2023 season series vs Coquitlam 2-1, Burnaby was hoping to find their first win of the new year. 

The Lakers came out with a flurry of scoring to start the game and went into the first intermission with a 6-2 lead thanks to goals from Trevayne Hunter, Sam La Roue, Gordie Phillips, Ben McDonald, Jacob Dunbar and Cole Newton. The second period saw Laker scoring slow to even with a trio of goals from Ben Stewart, Thomas Vela and Jacob Dunbar. The Adanacs came with a new game plan in the third period and tied the game with 5:21 left to play, but it was McDonald's second of the night in the second overall draft pick's first appearance with the club that settled the final score. With the win, the Lakers improved to 1-1 with McDonald being named the game's first star and Jacob Dunbar being named the third. Goalie Alex Buque made 50 saves on 61 shots for the win. The Lakers were outshot throughout the hour, registering only 44 shots of their own.

Lakers' season scoring is led by Jacob Dunbar who tallied 11 points over two games, followed by Ben Stewart (8 points) and Thomas Vela (7 points.) Ben McDonald holds the highest points per game average having put up 6 points in his Lakers debut.

The Lakers head into another set of back-to-back games next weekend, facing the Langley Thunder on Friday, May 31st at 7:30pm in Burnaby and traveling to Coquitlam for a road game on Saturday, June 1st at 7pm.

Photo by Ethan Cairns