A second-half resurgence by the Maple Ridge Burrards is the silver lining in a season mired by a last-place finish in the Western Lacrosse League.
The Burrards went out with a bang Sunday, drubbing the New Westminster Salmonbellies 12-6 at Planet Ice to deny their rivals a playoff berth.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t have a full line-up until the second last game of the season,” said head coach Daren Fridge. “I think we showed what could have happened had Curtis Dickson been healthy. He put on quite a show.”
In a season of what-ifs, no bigger hole in the Burrards line-up was more evident than the absence of forward Dickson. Sidelined for all but the last two regular season games, the forward helped the Burrards dash any hopes of the Salmonbellies qualifying for post season play with a six-goal, one-assist performance Sunday night.
The win opened the doors for the Burnaby Lakers to grab the fourth and final ticket to the playoffs, where they will faceoff tonight against the Langley Thunder, the defending WLA champions.
Dickson, who was out with a shoulder injury, finished his shorten season with eight goals and five assists and a shooting percentage of .296. The gaudy numbers come on the heels of a 2011 season in which he had 46 goals and 32 assists.
Sunday’s win was a back-and-forth affair for the first half of the game, as the Burrards led 3-2 after the opening frame on goals by Dickson, Garrett McIntosh and Brandon Bertoia. However, New West jumped back out in front early in the second period thanks to a pair of goals by Ilija Gajic. Any hope of a Salmonbellies’ trip to the postseason were dashed by the end of the period as the Burrards rattled off five straight goals to open an 8-4 cushion heading into the third.
Fridge said strong goaltending from Drew Dickey and one of team’s best defensive efforts of the season played a major role in the win. He also said the additions of Patrick O’Meara and Steven Hay had a positive impact on the team.
“It was a nice way to finish off the year, no doubt,” said Fridge.
Dickson and Creighton Reid put the final nails in the coffin as the Burrards ran the score to 10-4 into the third period. A pair of powerplay goals by the Salmonbellies cut the lead to 10-6 with just under six minutes left in the game, but the Burrards closed it out with Dickson’s sixth tally of the night, followed by Dayne Michaud rounding out the scoring at the 18:21 mark.
The Burrards’ last-place finish means the first pick in the upcoming draft, as well as two picks in the second round. Fridge said the team has its eyes on a number of players, including the high-scoring left-hander Logan Schuss of the Delta Islanders and teammate Mike Mallory. Schuss, who also plays with the Ohio State Buckeyes, recorded 31 goals, 34 assists for 65 points in just nine games with the Islanders. In five playoff games, he has 18 goals and 14 assists. Mallory finished the season with 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points in 17 games and leads the team in playoff scoring with 33 points.
The WLA draft takes place in February.