With the throaty roar of nearly 2,000 fans turning The Q Centre into a deafening cauldron of noise, the Victoria Shamrocks rallied from a four-goal third-period deficit Tuesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Lacrosse Association final.
Trailing 14-10 with 14:14 remaining, the Shamrocks scored seven unanswered goals to defeat the Maple Ridge Burrards 17-14 in the third game of the best-of-seven series.
“We are a resilient team, a resilient bunch,” said Jesse King, who led Victoria with five goals and 11 points.
“We had been getting good looks so it was bound to happen.”
Chris Wardle added three goals and seven points in the stirring comeback.
“It was our grit. We knew we had to bear down and dig deep,” said Wardle, the veteran Victoria forward.
“We had been getting good looks all night. So we talked about chipping away one goal at a time.”
The Shamrocks offence did it against Frank Scigliano, the WLA goaltender of the year, to make the rally all the more impressive.
“We figured if we got to near 50 to 60 shots on him, he was going to get tired eventually,” said Claremont grad King, an NLL pro champion with the Calgary Roughnecks, and an NCAA field-lacrosse graduate of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Victoria’s vaunted defence bent in the first two periods, but held tough down the stretch.
“We are a brotherhood and have a bond,” said veteran Shamrocks defender Steve Priolo.
“We don’t freak out at each other.”
Victoria goaltender Pete Dubenski rebounded from a shaky two periods to record a monstrous third period to keep the desperately pressing Burrards from landing any counter punches to the comeback. Dubenski was pulled for a stretch during the game but then put back in.
“I was showing confidence in him,” said Victoria head coach Bob Heyes.
Dubenski responded to his second chance.
Sophomore Tyson Gibson had two goals and five assists for the Shamrocks, and WLA rookie of the year Chris Boushy two goals and two assists and Tyler Pace two goals. Connor Robinson, Tyler Burton and Adrian Sorichetti scored the other Victoria goals. Dane Dobbie showed why he is the all-time pro NLL franchise scoring leader for Calgary by scoring four times for the Burrards.
The Shamrocks are in the WLA final for the seventh consecutive year. The 2019 series, a rematch of last year’s WLA final won in five games by the Burrards, continues with Game 4 Friday at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge and Game 5 Sunday at The Q Centre. If needed, a sixth game would be played Aug. 27 at Cam Neely and seventh game Aug. 30 at The Q Centre.
The WLA champion will host the Ontario Major Series champion — either the defending national-champion Peterborough Lakers or Six Nations Chiefs — in the best-of-seven Mann Cup national final next month. Second-seed Six Nations leads the best-of-seven Ontario series 2-0 over the top-seed Lakers.