Bellies score late, edge Thunder

by Gary Ahuja

Over 60 minutes on Thursday night, the Langley Thunder trailed for less than a minute the entire game. The rest of the time, the score was either tied or the Thunder held a slim advantage.

But the visiting New Westminster Salmonbellies took their first and only lead of the game with 58.5 seconds to play as they defeated the Thunder 13-12 at Langley Events Centre.

“That’s the game of lacrosse, that happens,” summed up Thunder coach Dane Dobbie. “They went on a little of a run there in the third period and we couldn’t slow it down (but) that is something we can learn from and build on as a group.”

“I thought it was one of our better games of the last little bit.”

Langley has dropped three straight games now – New Westminster was also the team which handed the first of those three consecutive losses – and the Thunder’s record sits at 6-4 on the BC Junior A Lacrosse League season. New Westminster improved to 5-3.

Langley had a great start to the game, scoring on their first three shots and four of their first five, but they could never create any separation from the Bellies.

The Thunder were up 6-4 after 20 minutes and their largest lead of the game was three, when they scored to open the middle frame to go up 7-4.

But after scoring seven goals on 18 shots in the first 20:20, the Thunder were held to five goals over the final 39:20, despite firing 33 more shots on goal.

The Thunder were up a pair heading into the third period and after neither team scored over the first 8:06, the Bellies reeled off a game-closing 5-2 over the final 11:54.

“I think we ran out of steam.  They had some power plays and buried on a few of them. I thought we got a little scrambly on defence,” Dobbie said. “We were good on the first possession and got a little scrambly on the repossessions there. It might have cost us a little bit.”

Both teams scored four times with the man advantage, including back-to-back power play goals for New Westminster 1:45 apart to kickstart the team’s third-period surge.

The loss came despite a monster performance from Langley’s Ryan Martel, who matched a career-high with 10 points, scoring five goals and setting up another five.

Connor Watson also had a big game with two goals and seven points while Dylan McIntosh had three goals and Caleb Pearson had four assists. Nathan McKeigan (one goal) and Ryan Jones (one goal, two assists) rounded out Langley’s scoring.

The game was also the Thunder debut for Jones and Harrison Smith, who were acquired earlier in the week from Delta. Langley captain Anthony Kalinich also made his season debut, returning to junior after helping the Calgary Roughnecks win the NLL Cup.

The Bellies received four goals from Tre Leclaire while Cam Garlin (three goals, four assists) and Will Malcom (three goals, three assists) each had hat tricks with Malcom’s last two goals tying the score at 12 and then striking for the deciding goal when he scooped up a loose ball off a rebound to fire home the game-winner.

With the season now at the halfway point of the 21-game season, the Thunder are right in the mix of a pack of five teams battling for the four post-season spots.

“We have a lot to learn. It is a good group of kids. We just have to try and find our identity and figure out where we want to go,” Dobbie said. “I think it is all up to the guys on what direction they really want to go this year and I have a good feeling on the answer it is going to be. Hopefully the second half of the season we can hold ground here and get ourselves in good position.”

The Thunder will look to return to the win column when they travel to Ladner on Saturday (June 1) to face the Islanders in the first of two consecutive games against Delta (2-7). The teams will also play at Langley Events Centre on Thursday (June 6) to complete the home-and-home series.


For more information:

Gary Ahuja, Langley Events Centre, 604.613.5242 (cell), 604.455.8830 (office) or email.