A playoff matchup that’s been a long time coming is about to face off.
The Nanaimo Timbermen and the Victoria Shamrocks will meet in a best-of-seven Western Lacrosse Association semifinal series starting Wednesday, Aug. 1.
The Island rivals haven’t met in playoff action in the modern history of the Timbermen franchise. The last time Nanaimo played Victoria in a senior A playoff series was back in 1957.
But old-time lacrosse isn’t on the mind of the Nanaimo Timbermen. They’re excited for playoff lacrosse in the here and now.
“Playoffs is a whole new ballgame for everyone [here]. I don’t think we have any guys on that team that have played in the WLA playoffs,” said Kaleb Toth, Timbermen coach. “So it’s going to be a tough thing, it’s going to be a lot of getting used to, but it’s got to be something that the guys have just got to go out and play.”
The Shamrocks go in as favourites with a higher seeding, home-floor advantage, more star power and a winning tradition, and also edged out the T-men in the season series, two wins to one. But the Timbermen led the WLA in goals against average, were the league’s most disciplined team and were hot down the stretch with only one regulation loss over their final 11 regular-season games.
“We’ve just got to play our game,” Toth said. “They’ve got some good players, we’ve just got to try to limit their touches, possess the ball as much as we can and try to take it to them wherever possible.”
The Shamrocks had two players up around 100 points, Casey Jackson and Jesse King, while the Timbermen scored by committee with Jon Phillips, Colton Clark and Chase Fraser the top contributors.
“We can worry about how much they’re going to play their game, but we’ve got to worry about playing our game and what’s going to beat them…” said Clark. “We’ve got a really good young team and I think we’ve got the team that’s going to beat them in the playoffs here.”
If the Timbermen are excited to be participating in the playoffs this year, they’ll have to keep an even keel in what could be a long series.
“The one thing about the playoffs is you have to win four to move on. If we lose one, we’ve got to have a short memory. If we win one, we’ve got to have an even shorter memory…” Toth said. “We’re going to be ready and it’s going to be a fun series.”
GAME ON … The Timbermen and Shamrocks play Game 1 of their best-of-seven series Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Q Centre in Victoria. The teams will play in Nanaimo on Friday, Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.