Sports

Timbermen's playoff hopes dashed

Burnaby Lakers player Colton Clark, left, gets away from Nanaimo Timbermen opponent Matt Wray during Sunday
Burnaby Lakers player Colton Clark, left, gets away from Nanaimo Timbermen opponent Matt Wray during Sunday's Western Lacrosse Association game at Frank Crane Arena.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

They managed a handful of comeback wins this season, but the Timbermen couldn’t come back and save their season.

The Coastal Windows Timbermen senior A lacrosse team (6-9-1) was eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday following an 11-10 loss to the Burnaby Lakers at Frank Crane Arena.

The loss extends a poorly timed slump for the T-men, who are 1-6 since starting the Western Lacrosse Association season 5-3-1.

Sunday’s result was disturbingly typical for the T-men lately.

“We spot teams too many goals and then we work our tails off to get back in the game and we battle hard and we work hard and then we’ll make mental mistakes,” said Scott Ranger, team captain.

In the loss to the Lakers, the T-men allowed eight second-period goals. The visitors had too many easy looks as they found all kinds of time and space in behind Nanaimo’s defence.

"Our team has a lot of good offensive talent and we like to get it moving nice and quick and that opens opportunities up on the crease," said Carlton Schuss, Lakers forward.

Down 10-5, the T-men made a goalie switch as Zak Boychuk came in to relieve Matt King. A third-period comeback attempt fell short as Cody Bremner’s last-ditch scoring attempt was stopped.

“Where was that team in the second period?” asked Art Webster, T-men coach. “You’ve got to play 60 minutes to win a lacrosse game. You can’t just show up here and expect to win … It takes lots of intelligence to play this game, it takes lots of discipline and we have to put it on the table every night.”

In 2010 and 2011 the T-men missed the post-season on a tie-breaker, but this year they won’t be able to make things as interesting as their last two regular-season games will be rendered meaningless.

It’s too bad considering the team received “awesome” fan support this season, said Webster.

“We feel bad that we didn’t deliver, that we’re not going to the playoffs,” he said. “And it hurts like hell.”

Looking back, there are one-goal losses that proved costly. The team’s struggles also coincided with a busier July schedule that involved a series of back-to-back games.

“At this level there’s not an excuse,” said Ranger. “You need to be prepared for every game.”

That’s why there are regrets at this stage of the season when players wish they had no regrets.

“It’s such a tight league; anyone can beat anyone,” said Graham Palmer, alternate captain. “It’s just a matter of who puts in a full 60 minutes. The games we lost, we didn’t, and the games we won, we did.”

Ranger said it’s “extremely frustrating” to miss the playoffs again this season because he said the Timbermen should be able to compete with any of the WLA’s playoff-calibre teams.

“We’re going to be a really good lacrosse team that’s out of the playoffs because we make bad lacrosse decisions,” he said. “that’s something you can’t teach; you’ve got to gain that through experience. Unfortunately we don’t have time now to make those adjustments.”

In Sunday's loss Ranger had five goals to bring his season total to 54, tying his own franchise record. Joel Henry had four goals and Cayle Ratcliff had the other. The Lakers got two goals from Colton Clark, who is from Nanaimo, and two goals from Schuss, a former Timbermen player.

The day before, the T-men lost 10-9 to the Coquitlam Adanacs on the Lower Mainland. Ranger had five goals in that one, too, with Henry adding a pair plus three assists. Cory Conway and Bremner were the other scorers and Boychuk suffered the loss in net.

GAME ON … Nanaimo finishes its season with a home-and-home series against the Victoria Shamrocks. The teams meet Friday (July 27) down the Malahat and then play the rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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