This is about the time in the playoffs the cliché word “stranglehold” is usually trotted out in sports. But if the sneaker fits, run with it.
The Victoria Shamrocks moved to within hailing distance of snagging their Island derby Western Lacrosse Association semifinal by taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The second-seed Shamrocks defeated the third-seed Nanaimo Timbermen, making their first playoff appearance in 11 seasons, 12-7 in Game 4 on Tuesday night at Frank Crane Arena in the Harbour City.
The Shamrocks buried the Timbermen under a barrage of five consecutive goals to start the second period after the opening 20 minutes were deadlocked 3-3. The Shamrocks outscored Nanaimo 7-3 in that decisive middle period.
“It was a funny first period,” said Victoria head coach Bob Heyes, who thought Victoria dominated it, without it showing on the scoreboard.
“Then that second period was the key. In the third, we played great defence and got timely saves to preserve the result. We were building throughout the three periods and found both our mental and physical games. And we got to their goalies again.”
Veteran Shamrock and NLL pro Rhys Duch, who missed Sunday’s Game 3, was back in the lineup and a factor with a goal and three assists. Toronto Rock NLL pro Rob Hellyer had three goals and two assists, Claremont and Ohio State Buckeyes graduate Jesse King two goals and two assists and Chris Wardle two goals. Casey Jackson and rookie Tyson Gibson out of NCAA Div. 1 Robert Morris and Brampton, Ont., Junior A both recorded a goal with two assists. Ryan Fournier scored the other Victoria goal. Colton Clark led Nanaimo with two goals.
Adam Shute made 36 saves in goal for Victoria, while Charles Claxton blocked 18 shots and Mike DeGirolamo 19 for Nanaimo.
Game 5 is Friday night at The Q Centre.
“That first period Friday will be important because we know Nanaimo will be desperate,” said Heyes. “We will know then how much they have left in the tank. We will need to play our best game of the series.”
The winner of this series will advance to the WLA final, beginning Aug. 17, against either Maple Ridge or New Westminster.