The Lakers and a box of chocolates
It was with a touch of whimsy that the movie Forrest Gump was on television the morning after Burnaby's timely clutch victory over the Victoria Shamrocks on Friday.
After last week's disappointing defeats at the hands of New Westminster and Maple Ridge, Burnaby fans could be excused for believing that the fortunes of the 2017 senior A Lakers were more like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.
In keeping with the Gump theme, the senior A Lakers surprised the second-place Shamrocks, winning 7-4 with a strong defensive showing and putting the club back in control of its Western Lacrosse Association playoff destiny.
It's debatable whether Bill Copeland Sports Centre goers expected the abrupt change in outcomes that happened, particularly after Burnaby followed an eerily similar period-by-period lead up against Victoria that had led to the Lakers utter third-period collapse against the Burrards a week earlier.
But that did not happen, thanks to a determined Lakers back end led by goalie Eric Penney, who calmly kicked out 53 Shamrocks shots, including 21 in the scoreless final frame.
Penney was at his best in the third period and had to be because Victoria dominated down the stretch, out shooting the home Lakers three-to-one in the final 20 minutes.
The win was Penney's sixth victory this season, moving the first-year Laker into second overall among active WLA keepers with a 0.855 save percentage and in third place with a 7.28 goals against average.
The Lakers did much of the damage in a 6-3 opening period, scoring three goals on transition, including the eventual game-winning counter on Matt Beers' second of the year from Justin Salt late in the frame.
Jackson Decker and Dane Stevens, on a super three-way passing play from Neil Arbogast and Cam Milligan, also tallied goals for Burnaby on the fast break.
Eli McLaughlin led the Lakers with a hat trick with all three goals assisted on by Robert Church. Stevens also collected a pair of first-period markers
The best of the lot came in the final minute of the first period, when Church scooped up a loose ball in the offensive end and back-flipped it ahead to Milligan, who relayed it to the left crease and an awaiting McLaughlin, who finished smartly for his second of the period.
But Burnaby will need to improve its third periods going forward.
The Lakers were out shot 13-4 at the midway mark of the third period and squandered arguably half of its offensive possessions on unforced turnovers.
But McLaughlin, who currently leads all Lakers and is second overall in the league with 23 goals and 53 total points, said the team came into the game against Victoria with a different mentality.
"We came in like we were going to win that one," McLaughlin said, adding next week's upcoming road trip through Vancouver Island won't be easy.
"You have to have a winner's mentality, go into it to win, but don't expect to win, play like a winner," said McLaughlin. "It's our playoff push. We can get hot at the right time and get some team chemistry."
The win over Victoria improved the Lakers league record to 9-5-1.
Next weekend Burnaby is away from the Copeland centre on its annual late-schedule swing to Victoria on Friday, July 28 and Nanaimo the following day.
The Burnaby Lakers will finish off the WLA season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 1 against the Langley Thunder.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James