Bandits are best again after beating Acme T-men

The Nanaimo Acme Painting Timbermen lost 8-7 to the Tri-City Bandits on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena to lose the best-of-five league final.

Nanaimo Acme Painting Timbermen player Devon Casey sends a backhand shot on goal during Sunday's game against the Tri-City Bandits at Frank Crane Arena.

Nanaimo Acme Painting Timbermen player Devon Casey sends a backhand shot on goal during Sunday's game against the Tri-City Bandits at Frank Crane Arena.

The Acme Timbermen couldn’t beat the champs, but lacrosse season isn’t over yet.

The Nanaimo Acme Painting Timbermen lost 8-7 to the Tri-City Bandits on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena to lose the best-of-five league final three games to none.

It was the seventh straight West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association championship for the Bandits, and since that club is hosting the Presidents Cup nationals, both finalists advance to that tournament in two weeks.

Sunday’s game was the closest in the series after Nanaimo lost 11-3 the previous night in Coquitlam in Game 2. In Game 3, the contest was 6-6 going into the third and even in the dying seconds, the T-men had possession as they tried for a tying goal.

“We played hard, just like we did the entire series,” said Mike Maughan, the team’s coach. “There’s no questioning the guys’ heart and desire, but when it comes down to it, the other team executed a lot better.”

The Bandits play a high-pressure style and never relented, “forcing us into bad decisions, and forcing us to make a lot of tougher plays on offence,” said Maughan. “They definitely stifled us a little bit.”

Jon Diplock, T-men captain, said the Bandits play to their strengths.

“They know what their job is and when it comes down to crunch time, everyone puts the team ahead of themselves and makes the right decisions,” he said. “And they capitalize on their opportunities.”

Darren McEwen, Tri-City captain, said Nanaimo is a hard-working team that battles and hits hard. He said his team’s defence came up huge in the series.

“We locked down on their goal scorers,” McEwen said. “We know who they are and we locked down on them so they didn’t get any good chances.”

Steve Higgs and Ryan Forslund scored hat tricks for the Timbermen, Ryan Dietterle also scored and Nick Patterson made 39 saves.

For Tri-City, Brendan Shea and Robert Danilkiewicz had two goals apiece, Kerry Susheski had a goal and three assists and McEwen, Justin DeSilva and Jordan Flaman also tallied. Chad Miller made 34 saves.

Tri-City’s championship celebration was muted – the Bandits didn’t even unravel the B.C. banner when it was first presented to them.

“It’s the seventh one in a row. It’s still exciting, but we’ve got the Presidents Cup coming up and that’s the big one this year for us…” McEwen said. “We want to win this one. Our team is pretty good this year so we’re hoping we’ve got a good chance.”

Nanaimo has a chance, too, since this playoff loss isn’t the end. Diplock said “it’s huge” for his team to know that nationals are still ahead.

“It’s like a second chance; it’s like a whole other season. We’ve just got to learn from our mistakes,” he said. “It’s a work in progress. We’ll use this to do better in the Presidents Cup.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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