It will be Victoria’s high-octane offence against one of the best goaltenders in the sport tonight at The Q Centre when the Shamrocks (3-0) meet the Coquitlam Adanacs (2-2) in an early-season marquee match-up in the Western Lacrosse Association.
National Lacrosse League pro Christian Del Bianco has backstopped the Adanacs to their solid start, which was only halted by a 7-6 loss to the Nanaimo Timbermen in their last game.
“If [Del Bianco] is not at the top in terms of lacrosse goaltenders then at least he’s in the conversation,” said Shamrocks head coach Mike Simpson.
“We know he’s going to save some, but if we get our shots, we’ll get our goals.”
The Shamrocks are coming off a 13-12 victory over the Burrards in Maple Ridge last Sunday after rallying from a five-goal deficit from late in the second period.
“We learned a lot about ourselves, how we can manage a game, and how we can come back,” said Simpson.
Victoria star forward Jesse King concurred: “It was our second game in three days and sometimes you lose discipline when fatigue sets in. But we did a good job later in the game of being careful to manage that.”
King said the Shamrocks’ team intelligence showed by not forcing it foolishly in the third period, and pulled back when there was no opening, and bided their time until the offensive players saw an opening.
“We pressed, but pulled out when needed, and made the smart plays,” said King.
Simpson also pointed to the Victoria defence, and goaltender Colin Jeffrey, as “answering the bell” down the stretch.
King, meanwhile, leads the league with 12 goals and 27 points in just three games. But the Claremont Secondary Spartans graduate, who played NCAA Div. 1 field lacrosse in the Big Ten for the Ohio State Buckeyes, is quick to deflect the praise.
“Our offence is riddled with young talent and veteran guys who are all getting the job done,” said King.
That has allowed King, who turns 30 next month, to be as much a distributor of the ball as a goal scorer at this point in his career with his league-leading 15 assists.
“My strength is my ability to see the floor,” he said. “With so many deadly shooters on our team, that has allowed me to be as much as a playmaker.”
In WLA action on Thursday, the Nanaimo Timbermen picked up a key road win with a 15-11 victory over the Salmonbellies in New Westminster. The Timbermen improve to 2-2 on the season, while the ’Bellies drop to 1-3.
LOOSE BALLS: The WLA took away two points from Coquitlam on Thursday, stating their game on June 1 against the Langley Thunder was being forfeited due to “player activation issues” on both teams. So neither team is awarded any points from the game, which the Adanacs won. Player stats from the game, however, would remain, the league said.