It was only a matter of time before the Island rivalry played out in the playoffs.
For the first time, it will be Nanaimo versus Victoria in a senior B lacrosse playoff series. The Timbermen will open the best-of-three series at home this Wednesday (July 19).
Mike Maughan, Timbermen coach, likes the idea of the two Island teams playing playoff lacrosse.
“That’s exciting stuff, because every game we play against them is really high intensity and we’ve built a really good rivalry really quickly,” he said. “There’s a lot of familiarity with both teams…
“We’re looking forward to beating them and feeling good about ourselves and then looking towards the next step from there.”
Nick Patterson, Timbermen goalie, said taking on the Wolves will make for an exciting series and also an interesting one because the players know each other so well.
“They’re a tough team to play, it can get a bit rough, the tempers can get a bit flared and just good, all-around fun,” he said.
Nanaimo goes into the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association post-season with momentum after winning its regular-season finale 10-8 against the first-place Ladner Pioneers on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena.
Corey Shires had two goals and two assists and Cody Clark and Jon Diplock scored twice each for the T-men. Also scoring were Travis Mickelson, Joey Fendick, Simon Stocks and Shane Chalker. Patterson made 50 saves for the win.
“This was pretty close to a playoff game,” Maughan said. “Ladner’s been the top team in the league all year long, so we knew it was going to be a tough game and that’s what we want going into the playoffs is a good test for our boys.”
It makes it three straight wins for the Timbermen to finish off the regular season.
“It just took a little while for everyone to come together and start believing in ourselves,” Patterson said. “We know we’re a really good team, our record doesn’t really reflect it, but I think we’re coming together at the right time.”
Maughan said the Timbermen have been a “really good group of guys” all along, so even when they struggled, they knew their capabilities, but also worked hard to get back to playing the way they wanted.
“[We had] a lot of things that we needed to work on, so we really just hammered home at addressing those and making sure that we didn’t accept the way we were losing games,” said the coach. “We needed to fix things and the guys have done a really good job at improving on what needed to be fixed.”
The Timbermen don’t go into the playoffs as favourites in their series let alone in the WCSLA, but they can still “do a lot of damage,” Patterson said, if they play smart lacrosse and not only play their game, but raise their game.
“If you’re going to make a run in the playoffs, everyone’s got to just dig a little bit deeper and you have to find that extra level,” he said.
GAME ON … The T-men and Wolves play Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Game 2 and Game 3 will both be at Victoria’s Q Centre.