Two teams who both expect to be fighting for the top spot at the end of the WLA season met at the beginning on Sunday, as the retooled Maple Ridge Burrards hosted the two-time league champion Langley Thunder.
Early on, the Burrards showed off the high-octane offence that team management has been raving about, and they took a 7-4 lead after the first period.
But that was most of their scoring for the night, and they went on to lose their home opener 13-10.
“That’s not the start we wanted – not getting the win,” said team captain Jarrett Davis. “We had a great first period, and then we ran into a hot goalie.”
That was the net-filling presence of Langley’s Brodie MacDonald, who stands six-foot-seven and looks just as wide across the shoulders. He is the backup goaltender for the National Lacrosse League’s Edmonton Rush.The Burrards made him look ordinary in the first period. After that, only their best moves beat him.
Davis had two first-period goals, both on snipes to the top corners, and added two assists.
But the Burrards offence sputtered, and that was no more apparent than on the power play. The Burrards had an edge in power plays. The Thunder took nine minors to their eight – not counting some message-sending penalty minutes that were accrued in the final minute.
“Our power play was terrible today – we were standing around shooting from the outside,” analyzed Davis.
Ridge scored just one goal with the man advantage, compared to five by Langley.
“We were quite predictable in what we were trying to accomplish,” echoed coach Daren Fridge, but added he’s confident his team will find some chemistry on special teams.
Fridge said his team looked great in the first period, and it gave them “maybe too much confidence.”
Both coach and captain said they were impressed with the play of Curtis Dickson, an NLL all-star with the Calgary Roughnecks, who led the Burrards offence with three goals and an assist, and showed he had no quit in scoring two of his team’s last three goals. He was selected the game’s third star.
And they both gave a nod to new goaltender Chris Levis, who gave his team a chance win, but was victimized by the Thunder power play.
A bright spot Fridge pointed out was the play of Mike Mallory, the Pitt Meadows product, did not stand out as a kid in his first game in the WLA.
“He looked really good for a rookie – like he had been around for a while,” said Fridge.
Mallory scored two goals, and often looked dangerous on the attack.
Patrick O’Meara scored an impressive goal on a coast-to-coast rush while shorthanded, and drew the Burrards to a one-goal deficit of 10-9. Aaron Pascas and Andrew Murphy also scored for Maple Ridge.
Reinforcements are on the way.
The team’s first-round pick in this year’s entry draft, Ben MacIntosh, has yet to arrive in Ridge with his brother Ben. Riley Loewen is finishing up field lacrosse at university
Langley’s Joel McCready was the game’s first star with four goals and three assists, and Alex Turner was the second star with three goals and three assists.
Turner had the goal of the game for Langley. He took a hard hit in front of the Burrard’s net, but as he was falling flicked a backhand that surprised Levis, to knot the game 7-7.
In a second period that saw Ridge outscored 5-0, Turner had three goals, including the 9-7 marker, which he banked off Levis’ back.
On Saturday, the Burrards will be at Coquitlam Rink to take on the Adanacs in a 7 p.m. game, and then Sunday they are back at Planet Ice to host the New Westminster Salmonbellies at 6:45 p.m. The Salmonbellies are coming off a 15-12 win over Nanaimo.
• Burrards president Lance Andre had little to offer about the home opener – he was on the road, and arrived back just at the end of the game.
“My wife was reading it out to me on Twitter. It sounded like a helluva game.”