In a sport where the snipers get most of the glory, defensive specialists Steve Priolo and Graeme Hossack have stolen some of it for themselves.
The Shamrocks pair was named Monday to the Canadian team for the 2019 world box lacrosse championship Sept. 19-28 at the Langley Events Centre.
The day before, Priolo and Hossack blunted the explosive offence of the Maple Ridge Burrards just enough in a key 13-11 Western Lacrosse Association road victory at Cam Neely Arena.
“They were both finalist for the top defender award in the pro league [NLL] and that says a lot,” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes.
They are also good at taking their chances at the other end as was evident by Hossack’s two goals and assist against the Burrards and Priolo’s goal and assist.
Three Burrards offensive stars — Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie and Ben McIntosh — were named to the Canadian team for the worlds. Two of them made an impact Sunday but Victoria’s defence did enough to contain the damage.
Dickson, the player who almost always lives up to his nickname Superman, scored three goals with three assists for six points. Dobbie led the pro NLL in scoring last season with 47 goals and 115 points in 18 games for the champion Calgary Roughnecks. He added three goals and two assists Sunday and already has 13 goals and 21 points in just four games for the Burrards since arriving on loan in a deal with the Langley Thunder.
The Shamrocks answered with Jesse King’s hat-trick and six-point night. King wasn’t named to the Canadian team but has travelled across the Pacific this summer and helped prepare Hong Kong for the worlds.
In goal for Canada at the worlds will be Chris Del Bianco, but the Shamrocks solved him early Sunday in building a 7-3 first-period lead.
“We got to Del Bianco in first period and that was the difference,” said Heyes
“We were geared up to play and got hot early. When you get seven goals in a period, it means the ball is in your stick, not their sticks. Offence is the best defence sometimes.”
Yet, the Shamrocks knew the fury that was coming in the final two periods.
“We knew what we were up against in that Burrard offence,” said Heyes.
“We knew they would have push back. But we plugged through. It was another reminder we need to play a full 60 minutes, not just a good first period.”
Rookies Chris Boushy, a game-time decision, and Marshal King scored twice each for Victoria, while fellow-freshman Larson Sundown added a goal and assist. Chris Wardle scored the other Shamrocks goal
NLL pro stars Connor Robinson and Tyler Pace, who came to the Shamrocks on loan for the season from Langley, each had two assists.
“It’s going to take them a little time to get comfortable,” said Heyes.
“But they have high lacrosse IQ’s and will adapt quickly.”
Peter Dubenski made 39 saves, many of them timely, for Victoria.
The result left Victoria (9-5) in a five-way tie for first place in the WLA with Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Burnaby and Nanaimo. Four teams will make the playoffs in the seven-team circuit.
“We have the season-series advantages against Maple Ridge, New Westmisnter and Nanaimo in case of a tie in the standing. That’s huge for us. If we beat Burnaby this weekend, we will get that series advantage, too.”
The Shamrocks, who played their last five games on the road and went 4-1, return to The Q Centre to meet the Coquitlam Adanacs on Friday night and Burnaby Lakers on Sunday.
“We’re sick and tired of the ferries, and I hope Shamrocks fans remember who we are,” quipped Heyes.