'Bellies Steal Home Floor Advantage

by Janice Huckin

The playoffs opened at home for the Jr. ‘A’ Shamrocks Saturday but the New Westminster Salmonbellies stole home floor advantage in the best-of-seven semi-final with a double overtime 9-8 win.  The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period with the visitors then taking a 6-4 lead into the final frame and the Shamrocks needing 3 straight goals to send the game into overtime, the 7th and tying goal coming with just 11 seconds left on the clock.

Starting goaltenders were Cameron Dunkerley for the home team and Kyle Hebert for the ‘Bellies.  The visitors opened the scoring at 4:15 when Erik Maas scored on a weird bounce off the back board.  Off the ensuing faceoff, Austin Madronic got the home team on the board at 4:39 with a bullet from outside the dotted line.  New West regained the lead at 8:13 when Ty Yanko scored from very close in but Victoria would manage to draw even before the period ended.  At 18:47 it was Casey Wilson finding twine on a quick stick from the side of the crease.  Shots on goal were pretty even with the Salmonbellies holding a slim 15-11 lead.

The Rocks came out flying in period 2, taking the lead for the first time at 5:03 with Brian Robb scoring and just 12 seconds later Madronic picked up his second goal of the game getting in close on a run off the faceoff to give the hosts a 2-goal lead.  Unfortunately it was very short-lived as New West replied with a pair of quick goals of their own, the first on a power play at 5:47 off the stick of Will Malcolm and the second coming at 6:03, Gabe Procyk getting in close on a run.  To add insult to injury, the visitors kept the momentum going with two more before the period ended.  Nick Hannay tallied at 10:40 with a shot that appeared to have been taken in the crease and Malcolm followed up with his second of the game, on the power play, at 12:33 on a quick stick from inside the dotted line.  After 40 minutes the visitors were up by a pair and outshot the home team 14-12 in the period.

The final frame saw the ‘Bellies extend their lead to 7-4 with a power play goal at the 11:53 mark, Tre Leclaire scoring from outside the dotted line.  When you might have thought the Rocks were down and out, they rallied with the team’s leading scorer Zach Manns picking up a goal at 12:40 from outside the dotted line, a shot that went just inside the post to close the gap to a pair of goals.  Patrick Dodds added a power play marker at 14:41 with a quick stick in close and suddenly the game was on.  Manns picked up his second of the game with just 11 seconds left on the clock, connecting from inside the dotted line with the Rocks having the extra attacker to send the game into overtime.

In playoffs the format for overtime is a full 10 minute overtime followed by a 10-minute break and then into sudden victory if required.  Victoria opened the scoring in the 10-minute extra time, Teioshontathe McComber connecting from the dotted line just 1:16 in.  That would hold up until the 9:24 mark when Andrew Bishop tallied to once again tie the game.  That game also came with the goaltender on the bench for the extra attacker.

Following the 10-minute intermission, the teams returned to the floor and with both goaltenders playing strong games, it took 7:26 before the winning goal was scored and it was Malcolm, picking up the winner and his hat trick goal to end the game.  That goal came on the power play on the only penalty called in either overtime period and it cost the home team.  It was also New Westminster’s fourth goal with the man advantage.

Leading Victoria’s offense were Zach Manns and Ben Preston each with 4 points, Manns picking up 2 goals and 2 helpers while Preston chipped in 4 assists.  Austin Madronic had a pair of goals and Teoshontathe McComber and Patrick Dodds each contributed a goal and 2 assists.  Other goals came from Casey Wilson and Brian Robb.  Cameron Dunkerley made 43 saves as the Rocks were outshot 52-45 in the game.

The Shamrocks will have to re-group as game 2 moves to Queen’s Park Arena on Sunday at 4:00 pm.  Game 3 will be back at the Q Center next Saturday, July 20 in a 4:00 start.