A pair of new additions paid big dividends for the Langley Thunder Wednesday night.
Trailing 5-1 after a listless 40 minutes, Dane Dobbie and Garrett Billings showed their veteran presence in an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over the Coquitlam Adanacs in Western Lacrosse League action at Langley Events Centre.
The win improved Langley to 2-4, while the Adanacs fell to 1-5.
Dobbie had four goals and one assist and was the game’s first star, while Billings tallied once and set up three of Dobbie’s four goals in the victory.
Johnny Pearson – playing just his second game of the season – had two goals and three points as well for the Thunder.
“Lacrosse is a game of runs and I have seen bigger leads than that blown and I have been a part of blowing them,” Dobbie said. “You play to the end of the buzzer for a reason and that’s just the proof of it.”
Both he and Billings last played in the WLA in 2013 when they were teammates in Langley.
Dobbie, playing in his 100th career WLA regular season game on Wednesday, now has 214 goals and 436 points, plus another 75 goals and 140 points in 45 playoff games.
Billings played in career game 43, and has 80 goals and 120 assists for 200 points. He also has 26 goals and 106 points in 29 playoff games.
But with the two new offensive weapons in the line-up, the Thunder struggled in the first 40 minutes.
The score was tied at one after the first period, before Coquitlam dominated the second, 4-0, for a 5-1 lead.
The boys found their game in the third for a well earned W! Big games from @gbillings13 @fearsonpearson and Dobbie lead the way while Sundar holds down the fort in goal #COQvsLAN #ThunderLAX https://t.co/iUwWiliT8t pic.twitter.com/auS68tZAV6
— Langley Thunder (@ThunderWLA) June 14, 2018
Langley head coach Rod Jensen delivered a stern message before the third period.
“We came out flat. They outworked us,” he said. “I told the team this is a season-defining period, win or lose, we have to compete harder and find a way to put the ball in the net.”
A big key was getting Coquitlam goaltender Dan Lewis moving in his crease, as he stone-walled the Thunder over the first 40 minutes.
Dobbie and Billings scored less than a minute apart in the first 3:45 to cut the lead to two and then Pearson scored in between a pair from Coquitlam’s Alex Bohl, to make the score 7-4 with just over a dozen minutes to play.
But JP Kealey made it 7-5 before Dobbie scored twice more to complete the comeback.
“The game gets down to crunch time and you see who comes out to play,” Billings said of Dobbie.
Despite the frustrations of the first 40 minutes when Lewis made 29 saves on 30 shots, Billings said the team had to remain patient.
“We just kept peppering him and eventually we broke him down.”
Next up for the Thunder is a road trip to Nanaimo, where they against the 2-4 Timbermen this Sunday, June 17.
Billings Back with Thunder
Rather than judge his team game-by-game, Jensen is taking a bigger picture approach, breaking the season down to three six-game segments.
And the first of those three segments wrapped up on Wednesday night, following the Langley Thunder’s game against the visiting Coquitlam Adanacs at Langley Events Centre.
Both senior A squads sit at 1-4 in the Western Lacrosse Association standings as the season nears the one-third mark.
At the one end of the floor, the Thunder have acquitted themselves nicely, ranking third in goals per game at 10 while also boasting the league’s most efficient power play, clicking at 52.38 per cent. Those numbers are compared to the league averages of 9.42 and 39.97 per cent.
JP Kealey continues to shine, leading the Thunder with a dozen goals and 21 points in five games. Tyler Pace (nine goals, 10 assists) and Connor Robinson (five goals, 13 assists) to give the team three top-offensive options among the top 11 in league scoring.
And the offensive is getting a key boost as Billings makes his return to the WLA after a five-year absence.
Billings was a part of the Thunder teams from 2008 to 2013.
In his two full seasons – 2009 and 2010 – Billings scored 64 goals and 140 points in just 28 games. For his 42-game WLA career, the 32-year-old has 79 goals and 196 points.
It’s on the defensive side where the young Thunder squad have been exposed, allowing 13.2 goals against (league average 9.42) and penalty kill (53.85 per cent vs. 62.02 for the rest of the league).
And in all four losses, it has been a common theme: the opposition’s offensive weapons erupting for massive games.
The frustrating part from the coaches’ perspective is the fact the defenders are not making the necessary in-game adjustments.
“We need to gamble, send someone over, take some chances,” Jensen said last week. “If we get beat fair enough, but don’t get beat the same way.”