Unlucky seventh for Lakers
There was no last period magic for the Burnaby Lakers this time.
The Western Lacrosse Association regular season champions dropped a decisive Game 7 to the Victoria Shamrocks 8-7 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Tuesday.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for a senior A Lakers club that had grand ambitions following its first-ever league title and home floor advantage throughout the playoffs.
But the post season proved unkind to the Burnaby club that for the most part struggled from behind before staging a pair of thrilling comebacks in games 5 and 6 with its third-period heroics to force a final, deciding Game 7.
But a third such effort fell sadly one goal short at the Copeland centre despite two late goals with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, including Jackson Decker's second of the game with just 12.2 seconds remaining in the contest. Scott Jones got the other extra-man marker.
Burnaby got off to a promising start against the visitors taking a 2-1 lead with a lot of positive play to build on in the upcoming periods.
But despite a very early power play goal by captain Robert Church in the opening minute of the middle frame, Victoria ratcheted up the intensity a notch or two and scrapped back into the game with the first of three goals by Casey Jackson.
Josh Byrne gave Burnaby its last lead of the game midway through the period on a clever shift to the net but the Shamrocks kept coming, quickly tying the contest and then going ahead for good 5-4 a minute later on a three-possession stand that Joe Resetarits finished off from in close.
If that was not enough, a loose ball play in the Burnaby end at the very end of the second period may have told the whole story.
What appeared to be a relatively routine loose ball pick up along the side boards, dropped divinely into Jackson's stick and the former Lakers lefty whipped an underhand zinger past Eric Penney at the time buzzer to give Victoria a 6-4 lead.
Another sign at the beginning of the final frame suggested a third comeback in a row for the Lakers was just not to be.
Rookie righty Cam Milligan whipped a mighty shot from well outside that unluckily ricocheted off the bar all the way to centre court on Burnaby's second possession of the third.
Later, Dane Stevens did close the deficit to 6-5 at the two-minute mark but back-to-back hat trick goals by Jackson and Resetarits sealed the deal in the Victoria's favour.
Shamrocks keeper Aaron Bold played arguably his best lacrosse of the playoffs, stopping 45 shots, including 21timely stops in the third period to earn the game's first star.
Byrne led all Lakers scorers with a four-point night. Church finished the seven-game series with 18 goals and a playoff-leading 32 total points.
Photos courtesy of Garrett James