The junior B Nanaimo Timbermen aren’t just playing out the string – they’re still trying to win.
On Sunday, the city’s Pacific North West Junior Lacrosse League team won the best game of the season so far, a dramatic 8-6 comeback victory over the rival Cowichan Valley Thunder.
It was a game that the home team trailed 5-2 at one point.
“Last 20 minutes, give ’er all you’ve got, boys, drain the tanks,” coach Matt Rinas told his team going into the third period.
They got the message.
“We wanted to go hard for the rest of the game and not disappoint any of the fans up there because there was finally a nice big crowd,” said Kyle Middleton, T-men forward.
It looked like the comeback might fall short when the Thunder scored to go up 6-4 with just over five minutes left. But Middleton’s solo effort a few seconds later put his team back within one, and then, with less than a minute and a half left and the goalie pulled, Middleton scored on a rebound to tie things up.
The T-men had the Thunder reeling, and the visitors failed to notice Timbermen sniper Travis Mickelson camping out all by himself in the attacking zone. He got a long pass and made no mistake on his breakaway attempt, burying the game-winning goal with 35 seconds left.
The home team added one more with two seconds to go.
“They made me wait until the last two minutes to see it happen,” Rinas said. “It was a little intense on the bench.”
Especially since Cowichan has had Nanaimo’s number in recent seasons.
“That one felt awesome, it felt better than the rest, for sure, to beat those guys,” said Middleton. “They’re not our best friends, to say the least.”
Middleton had a hat trick, Mickelson had two goals and two assists and Kyle Groat-Saluk also scored twice. Remy Koch had Nanaimo’s other goal, Ryan Davies dished three assists and Armin Grewal was the winning goalie.
GAME ON … The junior B Timbermen play the Westshore Bears on Wednesday (June 27) at 7:30 p.m. at the NIC.