It is down to two teams to see who will represent B.C. at the Minto Cup as the Langley Thunder get set to battle the Victoria Shamrocks.
The best-of-seven BC Junior A Lacrosse League championship series gets underway this weekend with game one in Victoria on Saturday, July 30 before the teams meet at Langley Events Centre on Sunday, July 31.
The rest of the series schedule is still to be determined and Victoria holds home-floor advantage.
The Shamrocks were the top team during the regular season, finishing with a record of 11-3, while the Thunder came in third spot at 10-4.
As one of the top two seeds, Victoria received a bye to the semi-final round while Langley faced New Westminster. The Thunder won game one 26-2 and were awarded the best-of-three series after the Salmonbellies could not field a full roster for game two.
Round two saw Langley battle the second-seed Nanaimo Timbermen, with the Thunder winning the best-of-five series three games to one, wrapping things up on Sunday.
The Shamrocks went the distance in their series with Coquitlam, winning the decisive fifth game 12-9 on Tuesday in Victoria.
During the regular season, Patrick Dodds led the Shamrocks in goals (28) and points (70) and was second on the team with 42 assists, trailing Denton MacDonald’s 48 helpers, which also led the entire BCJALL. Dodds was also second in the league with his 70 points while MacDonald finished fourth with 59.
Victoria also had four players finish in the top five for points per game as Dodds averaged 5.0 – which was second in the league – MacDonald had 4.9 and Casey Wilson and Noah Manning each had 4.8.
For Langley, Stuart Phillips was fifth with 58 points while Kyle Brunsch was tied for sixth with 54. Brunsch also finished second in goals with 34. Cody Malawsky was third in the league with 36 assists and Phillips was right behind with 35.
Manning leads the Shamrocks in post-season goals with a dozen as well as a team-best 27 points while Wilson and Trent DiCicco each have 11 goals.
On the Langley side, Brunsch leads all playoff performers with 16 goals while Phillips is tied for second with 28 points and is first overall with 5.8 points per game. Brunsch sits second on the team in post-season scoring with 23 points while Malawsky is third at 22.
The Shamrocks’ Adam Bland was third in the league with an .818 save percentage and fourth in goals against average at 8.41 while Langley’s Brayden Wandler was fifth in GAA (9.29) and had a .788 save percentage.
Both goaltenders have played all their teams’ respective playoff games with Wandler having the edge in GAA (9.26 to 9.58) while Bland posted the superior save percentage, .815 to .792.
Victoria boasted the top power play during the regular season with 27 goals on 62 opportunities (.435) and the second-stingiest penalty kill, allowing 21 goals on 73 chances (.712). The Thunder special teams saw the power play place sixth (29-for-79, .367) while the penalty kill was fifth (20 goals on 55 chances, .636).
The Thunder penalty kill is in for a tough test against the Shamrocks, as Victoria scored 14 goals on 21 chances (.667) against the Adanacs. Langley’s penalty kill also surrendered a dozen goals on 18 chances (.333 kill rate) to Nanaimo during the last series. Conversely, the Thunder power play was good on eight of 14 chances against the Timbermen (.571) while the Shamrocks penalty kill allowed 10 goals on 23 opportunities against Coquitlam (.565).
Matt Abbott was the primary face-off specialist for the Thunder and was 175-109 during the regular season for a .616 winning percentage, which was tops in the league and the only above .600. He is 69-45 (.605) through the first five playoff games. Kaiden Sheehan Davies was the team’s secondary face-off man, going 16-28 (.364) in the regular season and 14-8 (.636) in the post-season.
Victoria’s Kyle Pepper posted a .592 winning percentage (100-69) during the regular season while Kaden Granberg went 64-65 (.496). The two have split the duties in the playoffs with Granberg going 30-29 (.509) and Pepper 22-31 (.415).
The teams split their season series with the Thunder winning at home on May 15 by a 7-3 score before the Shamrocks took the rematch in Victoria on June 19, winning 17-7.
The Shamrocks were first in goals scored (168), second in goals allowed (109) and first in goal differential (+59) while the Thunder finished second in goals (161) and fourth in both goals allowed (130) and goal differential (+31).
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