WLA Playoffs: Victoria wins thrilling Island derby

VICTORIA  11
NANAIMO  8
Victoria leads series 3-0

It is everything lacrosse should be this time of year.

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The Victoria Shamrocks won a terrifically tense WLA playoff game 11-8 Saturday night at the Q Centre to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven semifinal series against the Nanaimo Timbermen.

Nanaimo was pressing, with Victoria leading 8-7, when Graeme Hossack showed why he was 2018 NLL pro defender of the year with the Rochester Knighthawks. Hossack stripped a Timbermen forward, scooped up the loose ball and rushed down floor to score unassisted at 13:22 of the third period to give Victoria a 9-7 lead. Hossack then blocked a shot with his leg and picked up the rebound to scored unassisted into the empty net to close out scoring.

Three power-play goals, two by Connor Robinson, and one by Jesse King, staked the Shamrocks to a 5-2 first-period lead. NLL pro King, a graduate of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA, finished with three goals and three assists. Timbermen captain and former Junior Shamrocks star Brody Eastwood scored twice for Nanaimo.

The Timbermen finally seemed to find a way to dent Victoria’s vaunted defence, as the Shamrocks defenders were drawn into several drag downs, leading to penalties or interference calls that allowed the T-Men forwards to keep possession.

Both goaltenders were standouts with Peter Dubenski facing 58 Nanaimo shots and Charles Claxton 65 Victoria missives.

Tyler Burton continued his face-off mastery for Victoria in winning 20 of 23 draws.

With the shot clock ticking down, Shamrocks defensive stalwart and three-time pro NLL champion Adrian Sorichetti launched a desperation short-handed shot from centre floor. It went in to make it 6-2. It turned into more of a consequential play when the Timbermen pulled to within 6-5 in the second frame.

The Timbermen, making their second consecutive playoff appearance after a post-season drought of 11 years, are now down their last gasp heading into Game 4 Monday at Frank Crane Arena in the Harbour City.

Game 5, if required, would be Wednesday at The Q Centre.

The second-seed Maple Ridge Burrards and third-seed New Westminster Salmonbellies are tied 1-1 in the other semifinal series heading into tonight's Game 3 at Cam Neely Arena.

BOXLA BITS: Former WHL Victoria Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse was announced as being in attendance and received a rousing ovation.

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