Langley Thunder will miss Western Lacrosse Association playoffs

The Langley Thunder’s rollercoaster season has been very similar to the 1958 wooden scream-ride at Playland.

It’s been jolting, hard on your system, and will leave you a little light-headed and shaken by the time it mercifully rolls to a stop.

After a steady climb up the Western Lacrosse Association standings, in which they went 6-2 over an eight-game stretch and hovered above .500 at 6-5 after an 0-3 start, down went the Thunder again.

And it’s been a swift, tummy-turning descent.

A 10-6 road loss to the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Thursday marked the Thunder’s sixth straight setback and dropped their record to 6-11.

As a result, Langley has missed the WLA playoffs for the first time in four years. They made back-to-back Mann Cup national championship appearances in 2011 and ’12 and lost to Victoria in the WLA playoff final in 2013.

“Its been really tough,” said Thunder bench boss Rod Jensen, who missed the playoffs for the first time since taking the coaching reins in 2011. “When you have a young team with players who haven’t played too much at this level you have to keep yourself thick-skinned, and we were vulnerable. It wasn’t for a lack of effort: it’s just that the guys didn’t execute well and didn’t do the basics. We’d have one good period and then two bad periods.”

Jensen said this year’s team, with a dearth of senior A experience, was completely different from the star-studded squads that won back-to-back WLA titles and made it to the league final last season.

“But I don’t want to downplay the fact that this was an enjoyable team to coach, even though we didn’t get results,” Jensen said. “We weren’t faking it, we wanted to win and wanted to do what it took, but this year was an eye-opener for some of the guys.”

A bright note was the play of veterans Alex Turner and Ethan Iannucci.

Jensen said Turner had a “phenomenal year,” and heading into tomorrow night’s home finale leads the Thunder in goals (31), assists (33) and points (64).

Iannucci, a towering right-hander, also was a strong leader with 23 goals and 55 points.

 

New Westminster Salmonbellies 10, Thunder 6

At Queen’s Park Arena in New West, the host ’Bellies led 3-2 after the first period and 8-4 after 40 minutes before cruising to victory.

Jeff Cornwall and Tyler Crompton each scored twice for the Salmonbellies, who, with an 8-9 record, hold on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the seven-team WLA.

Tyler Melynk notched a hat trick for the Thunder, while Turner added a pair. Brett Baron also scored for Langley.

Maple Ridge Burrards 9, Thunder 3

The Burrards all but won the game in the first period, scoring five unanswered goals while out-shooting the Thunder 18-8.

Three of the goals, from Garrett McIntosh at 15:08, Riley Loewen at 16 minutes, and Aaron Davis at 17:39, came 2:31 apart from each other.

The goal outburst prompted Jensen to call a time out to settle his troops.

Down 5-0, the hosts settled down somewhat, limiting the Burrards to three goals while scoring two of their own in the middle frame, and exchanging a goal each with Maple Ridge in the final stanza.

The Burrards took an 8-1 lead on Andrew Murphy’s unassisted goal 15:21 into the second period.

Loewen scored a hat trick for the Burrards with singles coming off the sticks Jarrett Davis (who added three assists), Andrew Murphy and Patrick O’Meara (who each had a three-point night on a goal and two helpers), Aaron Davis, and Ben and Garrett McIntosh.

Turner scored twice for the Thunder, with Daniel McQuade notching the final goal of the game.

 

FINAL BUZZER: The Thunder close out their regular season tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 30), when they host Nanaimo at the LEC. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Timbermen sit in the WLA cellar with a 4-11-1 record.

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