Victoria Shamrocks fans are eager to get things going as the team gets set to play in the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) finals for the sixth consecutive year this week.
And while the ultimate goal is to defeat the Maple Ridge Burrards and return to the Mann Cup Championships in September, head coach Bob Heyes admits the team isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.
“We can’t look forward to Sept. 7 or 8, as cliche as it is, we’re taking it one game at a time,” Heyes said. “Our concern is 6:30 p.m. Friday night and really establishing the game that we have to play.”
The Shamrocks are on their way to the WLA finals after defeating the Nanaimo Timbermen 11-7 in game five of the best-of-seven series at The Q Centre Friday night.
"The ‘Rocks saved the best for the final period, scoring 3 goals and putting another exclamation point on an incredible season so far in 2018."
— ☘Victoria Shamrocks (@WLAShamrocks) August 11, 2018
The Shamrocks led the pace of play throughout the game against their Island rivals, with Rob Hellyer opening the scoring just 40 seconds into the game, followed by a goal from Rhys Duch.
Nanaimo’s Baden Boyenko got his team on the board shortly after, but Victoria answered right back with a goal from Tyson Gibson.
Victoria continued to dominate into the second and third stanza. Duch notched his second hat trick in four games. Gibson scored four goals and was named the first star of the night, while Duch was named the second star.
Goaltender Adam Shute made 37 saves on the night to shut the door on the Timbermen.
Heyes said the team showed great composure throughout the series, played well defensively and were strong on the power play.
Now, the ‘Rocks are looking ahead to the finals which kicks off on home turf, when they take on the Maple Ridge Burrards. The Burrards finished fourth in the regular season and swept the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the first round of playoff action.
Heyes anticipates it will be a tough, physical series, full of emotion, and said he’ll be relying on veteran players to help guide some of the rookies who have never been to this level of play.
“We know we’re up against a very good team in Maple Ridge that has a lot of fire power up front, physical defense and a big, very good goaltender. All aspects of Maple Ridge’s game is playing strong right now,” he said, adding he’s hoping to see a fair series against a familiar foe, given the teams match up well.
“They’re going to try and play an intimidation factor. They may not play the game straight up. We need to be aware and the league needs to be aware if they’re going to play on the borderline of the rules, then we’re going to need the opportunity to play the same way.”
The WLA finals kick off Friday, Aug. 17 at The Q Centre at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit victoriashamrocks.com.