Burrards beat Salmonbellies at home, take WLA lead

The 2011 Western Lacrosse Association season may still be young, but the Maple Ridge Burrards are happy to be atop the standings and tied for first after defeating the New Westminster Salmonbellies at home Sunday night.

The Burrards bounced back from a lacklustre effort Saturday night that saw them lose 14-11 to the Coquitlam Adanacs on the road, with a 9-7 victory at home over the 2010 WLA champions.

“A win’s a win, but we have to be cautious,” said Burrards head coach Daren Fridge. “They had a depleted line-up and we were fortunate we were able to take advantage of that.”

The Burrards are 2-1 so far this season, and while Fridge is pleased with his team’s start, he knows there a lot of lacrosse left to play.

“I’d love to be at 3-0, but I’m certainly pleased,” he said. “I’m not surprised at where we are, but I’m not going to overanalyze it either. It’s early and there’s still a lot of ground to cover.”

Curtis Dickson led the Burrards offence last weekend, with eight goals against Coquitlam and New Westminster. Dickson now has 17 points this season to lead the team in scoring, and has aptly demonstrated why he was named the National Lacrosse League’s rookie of the year.

“He’s electrifying,” said Fridge. “He has really taken his game to the next level. He sees the floor a lot better than last year, and he’s pretty close to unstoppable one-on-one, so that allows him to draw the double team.

“For the team and fans, I think we’re really fortunate to have him here.”

The Burrards opened up a 4-0 lead on New West Sunday night, only to have the Salmonbellies push back to within one near the midway mark of the period.

That’s when Dickson took the game back for the Burrards with a natural hat trick, scored in the span of just three minutes, two of the goals shorthanded.

The Burrards stretched their lead to 9-4 in the third, but again the Salmonbellies refused to go away, chipping away at the lead with a trio of goals.

It would not be enough however, as Burrards goalie Ron Schibild shut the door on the ‘Bellies shooters in the late going to pick up his first win of the season in his first start for Maple Ridge.

The Burrards penalty kill was perfect, shutting down the ‘Bellies on nine attempts, while scoring three short-handed goals.

Dickson finished with five points, as did Tyler Miotto, who notched a pair of goals and a trio of assists. Joel Dalgarno had three assists, while Derek Lowe, Riley Loewen and Tyler Codron each had a goal and an assist. Peter Tellis also scored for the Burrads, while Randy Daly and Dayne Michaud picked up assists.

Fridge said he was impressed with Miotto’s performance in the absence of last year’s leading scorer Jarrett Davis, who is currently playing field lacrosse with the Hamilton Nationals in Major League Lacrosse.

“He knows he needs to preform and take advantage of his opportunities while Jarrett is gone,” said Fridge. “He’s certainly showed that he wants to be a part of this team.”

Miotto is one of many players who have stepped up offensively so far this season. Three games into the 2011 campaign and 10 different Burrards have managed to find the back of the net.

Rookie Riley Loewen has adjusted nicley to play in the WLA, scoring three goals and three assists in his first two games.

“We’re very happy with how he has played, but not surprised,” said Fridge. “He’s a shooter first, and he can hold the ball and take pressure. He’s picked it up pretty quick.”

The Burrards are on the road this week, with a rematch against the Salmonbellies in New Westminster on Thursday and a visit to the Island on Sunday to take on the Nanaimo Timbermen.

“They’ve always been a rough and tumble team, and the way the game ended Sunday night, I expect a much better effort from them in their barn on Thursday,” Fridge.

The Burrards expect to have Aaron Davis, Ben Davies, and Nate Tarrant back in the line-up for Thursday’s game, while Schibild will get the start in net, said Fridge.