If Game 1 was any indication, lacrosse fans are in for quite a series.
The Nanaimo Timbermen defeated the Victoria Shamrocks 12-11 in double overtime in Game 1 of the best-of-seven WLA semifinal series on Wednesday at the Q Centre.
Neither team ever led the game by more than two goals. The Timbermen needed a game-tying goal with five minutes left in the third to force overtime and another game-tying goal with two seconds left in the first OT to force sudden-death.
Nearly 10 minutes into double overtime, Jon Phillips scored the game-winning goal on a back-door play.
“They didn’t quit, they didn’t give up. Even though we made a few mistakes, they rallied back and bounced back,” said Kaleb Toth, Timbermen coach. “That’s what I’m more proud of than the win, is the guys not giving up and continuing to battle – even though the win is awesome.”
He said at times, the lacrosse looked like it was the first playoff game for a lot of guys. The T-men started overtime by throwing the ball away a few times. But “they figured it out,” the coach said, and gained an edge.
On the winning goal, Chase Fraser got in position to make a play.
“He wound up and he’s a shooter that goaltenders have to respect, so the goalie stepped out and luckily Jon was open on the side…” said Toth. “It was a nice goal, it was a good way to finish the game.”
Fraser finished with a hat trick, two assists, and won 18 out of 24 faceoffs. Phillips had two goals and four assists, Brody Eastwood had two and two and Mason Pynn scored twice. Evan Messenger, Conrad Chapman and Dane Sorensen were other scorers. Jordan Gilles dished three assists and Charles Claxton made 48 saves as shots were 68-59 in favour of the visitors.
For the Shamrocks, Casey Jackson had a hat trick and two assists, Jesse King had two goals and four assists and Rob Hellyer had a goal and six helpers. Adam Shute made 58 saves.
Nanaimo, which now leads a playoff series for the first time in franchise history, will get to host Game 2 on Friday, Aug. 3.
“We’ve got to have short memories, forget about it and try to get a little better overall and worry about Friday now,” Toth said.
GAME ON … The Timbermen and Shamrocks play Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Frank Crane Arena. Tickets will be available at the door.