Victoria Shamrocks prepare more magic for WLA final

Maybe it’s meant to be. So says the Victoria Shamrocks’ No. 1 fan.

“With two overtime wins in the final against a solid Burrards team, the Shamrocks look like a team of destiny,” said Premier John Horgan.

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The latest OT winner, from Tyler Pace in the 12-11 victory Friday night over the Burrards, seemed to have been launched from The Q Centre in Horgan’s neck of the woods.

The only thing is, the game took place at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge. Pace’s buzzer-beater overtime winner, shot from just over centre floor at Cam Neely with less than one second remaining, has become the buzz of the lacrosse world over the weekend.

Victoria Shamrocks GM Chris Welch described it as a “magic goal.”

It gave Victoria a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven WLA final heading into Game 5 this evening at The Q Centre.

It was Pace’s fourth goal of the game and made Welch look like a genius for the shrewd way he has worked the new league rule, which allows for soccer-style player loans for a season. Welch traded Victoria’s first-round 2019 draft pick, the fine rookie Keegan Bell, to the Langley Thunder for the use of Pace and Connor Robinson for this season. Robinson scored the overtime winner for Victoria in Game 1 followed by Pace in Game 4.

“They are quality players and we had to replace [injured snipers Rhys Duch and Casey Jackson],” Welch said.

“It’s no secret why they were the top overall WLA draft picks back-to-back coming out of junior [Robinson in 2018 and Pace in 2017]. They have been outstanding for us and contributed huge goals. They have given us a big boost.”

The Burrards also dipped into the loaner-player pool with success, with Dane Dobbie coming to Maple Ridge from Langley for the season. The all-time leading franchise scorer for the NLL pro Calgary Roughnecks leads WLA playoff scoring with 26 goals and 41 points in 10 games. (Jesse King of Victoria is second with 19 goals and 38 points in eight games).

Dobbie can look up at the nine Shamrocks’ Mann Cup Canadian Senior A championship banners hanging in The Q Centre knowing that his grandfather, Bob Dobbie, played for the 1955 and 1957 championship Shamrocks teams. What a familial storyline in green that would have been if fate had sent Dobbie on loan to Victoria instead of Maple Ridge. But the Shamrocks, and their fans, are more than pleased with having Pace and Robinson instead.

The Shamrocks are in the WLA final for the seventh consecutive year. The 2019 series is a rematch of last year’s WLA final, won in five games by the Burrards. If needed, a sixth game would be played Tuesday at Cam Neely and seventh game Friday 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. The favoured Lakers, who lost the first two games to the upstart Chiefs, have rallied to tie the best-of-seven Ontario series 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Tuesday in Peterborough.

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