Lakers lose sprint to the finish with Fishmen
Burnaby's unfortunate 17-16 overtime loss to New Westminster was not unlike some stages of the Tour de France, which began on Saturday.
The Burnaby Lakers played each period of last Friday's home game defeat to the Salmonbellies like a cycling team riding a variety of brevets.
The first period began with a quick break from the pack by Dane Stevens on a delayed penalty to put the home team up in the opening half-minute of play.
Burnaby's early 2-0 breakaway was quickly reeled in following a pair of unassisted Salmonbellie counters a minute or more apart.
Later in the opening period, Burnaby appeared to have crashed out all together, falling behind 6-4 in the latter half of the frame after New West put four goals behind starter Zak Boychuk in a six-minute spell.
At that point, the Lakers looked unable to sustain the tempo needed to win a shooting match with the first-place 'Bellies.
Burnaby started the second period with a surprise counterattack, potting two goals in a 12-second flurry, including Adam Perroni's third goal of the year in the opening minutes.
But New West got on the pedal and put a five-goal gap between them and the trailing Lakers, chasing Boychuk from between the pipes for Eric Penney, in his first action back from injury.
Then came the hard work and like true climbers Burnaby fought back to almost level, sending visiting keeper Tye Belanger to the bench on Eli McLaughlin's 10-11 marker late in the stanza.
The final 20 minutes were much like a sprint to the finish with both teams going on the attack and the other quick to counter.
Anthony Malcom gave the 'Bellies a three-goal advantage with his unassisted hat trick marker at the midway mark of the session.
Athan Iannucci and Coady Adamson both helped cut the deficit to a single goal with their third goals of the game just seconds apart a minute later.
Former Laker Jason Jones extended the gap to a pair of goals on a power play but Perroni, with his second of the game on transition, and Joel Matthews with a blooper from the right side that floated into the net behind Alexis Buque, sent the game to a 10-minute extra time.
In overtime, Burnaby could not hold off the surging Salmonbellie peloton and were outscored 2-1 despite McLaughlin's last-minute heroics, sneaking in his third of the game from in close.
But in truth, Burnaby was both good and lucky.
Playing without its leader, Robert Church, the Lakers got another solid game of point production from McLaughlin, who climbed to eighth place in the league scoring race with an eight-point night.
Other timely contributions came from Iannucci and Adamson, who had season-best outings. Matthews and Stevens also posted identical two-goal, six-point games.
The good fortune was that Burnaby remained in touch with the Salmonbellies at all throughout the contest despite the many errors that cropped up in its defensive structure.
On many occasions, New West was given too much space to take a shot or a Salmonbellie player was left inexplicably on their own behind the Burnaby back end to make a play.
These shortcomings in the Lakers game, more than any others, must change for Burnaby to be ultimately successful going forward.
Next up for Burnaby are the Coquitlam Adanacs at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Tuesday, July 10. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James