Victoria Shamrocks look to break away from the crowd atop WLA

The space race of the 1960s had nothing on the Western Lacrosse Association race of 2019.

Five teams, including the Victoria Shamrocks, were tied for first place with 18 points heading into Thursday night’s late-finishing game between the New Westminster Salmonbellies and Burnaby Lakers.

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Only four teams will make the playoffs, so one of either the Shamrocks, Salmonbellies, Lakers, Maple Ridge Burrards or Nanaimo Timbermen will miss the playoffs.

“It definitely shows the parity in the league,” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes.

“If it wasn’t for our slow start at 0-3 and 1-4, we would have led the pack. We’ve had to work hard to rebound and get where we are. But now we hold our destiny in our own hands and that’s a good thing.”

Going into Thursday, the Shamrocks (9-5) had a game in hand on the other four teams in the hunt and held the season-series tiebreaker against the Salmonbellies, Burrards and Timbermen and would also against the Lakers with a victory Sunday at The Q Centre.

But before that key fixture against Burnaby is tonight’s game against also-ran Coquitlam (3-12), one of two games Victoria has remaining against the Adanacs.

“We have to take care of business in those games. We can’t have any slip-ups,” said Heyes.

“Coquitlam is playing for pride and sometimes those are the toughest teams to play against.”

After the weekend home set against Coquitlam and Burnaby, the Shamrocks close out the regular season away to New Westminster next Thursday and away to Coquitlam the following Saturday.

Veteran defensive-specialist Greg Harnett from the pro National Lacrosse League champion Calgary Roughnecks and sophomore offensive threat Tyson Gibson out of NCAA Div. 1 Robert Morris University will draw into the Shamrocks lineup tonight after missing most of the season to injuries.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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