Last third will tell Lakers playoff chances

The senior A Lakers are treading a dangerous path to a potential Western Lacrosse Association playoff berth. 

The final half dozen games will tell whether the Burnaby Lakers are bound for the post season but it's not all up them either.

Nanaimo has recently positioned itself into the mix as the leading contender for the fourth and final playoff spot and it will be up to Burnaby to win at least four of its remaining six games to realistically have any hope of catching the Timbermen.

Langley, too, is not out of it, following an 11-8 win over the Maple Ridge Burrards on Tuesday and a pair of upcoming head-to-head meetings with the Lakers.

But before those two crucial two-game match ups take place with Nanaimo and Langley, Burnaby has this Friday's all-important season series deciding game with the Victoria Shamrocks to contend with.

The outcome of this interesting contest will give the victor an advantage in placement in the final WLA season standings.

But the Shamrocks look a lock to finish in third place, at the very least, and stand a better than average chance of gaining home floor advantage in the opening round of playoffs should they catch the slumping Burrards at season's end.

At this juncture of the season, it is more important for the Lakers to steal a very important two points from the 'Rocks than it is looking too far ahead in the schedule.

Playing in the now should be the only mantra the Burnaby Lakers are concentrating on.

And beating Victoria is certainly doable for the Lakers in the final regular season match up between the two teams in green.

Burnaby lost to the Islanders 13-11 in an early season meeting but surprised the Shamrocks at home 13-10 in mid-June and the Lakers have been a better team ever since.

Although the Lakers record may not speak volumes to that improvement, Burnaby's last three games  went to overtime against the top two teams – New Westminster and Maple Ridge.

Furthermore, Tuesday's somewhat pedestrian 14-4 victory over the unpredictable Coquitlam Adanacs suggested that Burnaby has plenty of potential petrol still left in its tank.

Eli McLaughlin has been the main man for Burnaby in the last five games, with 16 goals and 31 total points, while Robert Church has 19 points, including 10 goals, in four of those contests.

But the mainstay in the Lakers' apparent turnaround has been the addition of supplementary scoring in the month of June.

In the 12-12 draw in Maple Ridge, there were six other goal scorers aside from McLaughlin and Church.

Against New West, five Lakers put up big numbers apart from Burnaby's two top scorers, while in the club's most recent win over the A's, transition runners - Nik Bilic and Tristan Rai - both contributed a pair of markers to the win.

However, the outcome of tonight's game won't be all about what happens up front.

Burnaby's relatively young back end is both improving and potentially explosive but still needs to tighten up defensively, especially with the Shamrock's league scoring leaders Jesse King and former Laker Casey Jackson, with 33 goals to date, zeroing in on opponent's nets.

Photos courtesy of Garrett James