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Shamrocks fire on all cylinders in WLA victory over Thunder

The Victoria Shamrocks planned to run at the Langley Thunder. They ended up running them right out of the rink, taking an 8-0 lead midway through the first period, en route to an 18-7 Western Lacrosse Association victory Sunday at The Q Centre.
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Leading scorer Jesse King and the Shamrocks host Coquitlam on Friday night. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

The Victoria Shamrocks planned to run at the Langley Thunder. They ended up running them right out of the rink, taking an 8-0 lead midway through the first period, en route to an 18-7 Western Lacrosse Association victory Sunday at The Q Centre.

“We got good looks early. But what I liked best is that we didn’t slow down and continued to come at them,” said Victoria head coach Mike Simpson.

“From top to bottom, it was our most complete game of the season.”

Jesse King, the Claremont Secondary Spartans and NCAA Big Ten Ohio State Buckeyes graduate, who leads the WLA with 49 points had a 10-point night on two goals and eight assists. Larson Sundown added a hat-trick and two assists for five points and Rhys Duch and Jacob Ruest two goals and two assists each. Marshal King, Dan Smith and Tyler Burton scored twice each, the latter two from the back end as the Shamrocks defence continued to contribute offensively. Another defenceman, Jackson Nishimura, also scored as did Jake Foster.

The game’s second star, sandwiched between first-star Jesse King and third-star Sundown, was Shamrocks goaltender Pete Dubenski. The Thunder are no pushovers, with Simpson describing Langley as having “veteran superstars at the front door.” The shots on goal were tied 57-57, but Dubenski held the Thunder shooters at bay. They included National Lacrosse League pro Curtis Dickson, who in university led the Delaware Blue Hens to their only NCAA Final Four appearance, and is one of the most dangerous goal hawks the game has seen. Thunder teammate Dane Dobbie plays pro for the San Diego Seals and was the 2018-19 NLL MVP. Robert Church, out of NCAA Div. 1 Drexel University, is an NLL all-pro selection and the defending WLA MVP from 2019, when he was with the Burnaby Lakers and was also WLA MVP in 2014 and 2017.

“The 2019 Pete [Dubenski] is back,” said Simpson.

The Victoria bench boss was referring to the last pre-pandemic WLA season in which former Senior B goaltender Dubenski rose out of obscurity to backstop the Shamrocks to the WLA championship.

“Pete is back to his 2019 level of play, which was the best in the league, and he was fantastic for us Sunday. Our goaltending is giving the whole group confidence.”

The Shamrocks moved to 5-1 atop the table with the Coquitlam Adanacs (5-2) but with a game in hand. Langley, which might have been sapped by its tough 10-9 loss in Coquitlam the night before, fell to 3-3.

The Nanaimo Timbermen (4-4), led by Jon Phillips’ four goals and Justin Geddie’s goaltending, defeated the New Westminster Salmonbellies (2-5) by a 12-2 count at Frank Crane Arena to set up the Island derby Friday night at The Q Centre between the Timbermen and Shamrocks.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com