At the end of a tough four games featuring fights, cheap shots, stitches and player suspensions, the Maple Ridge Burrards were swept by the Victoria Shamrocks on Sunday at Planet Ice.
The Shamrocks won by scores of 13-9, 12-5, 13-5 and finally 13-4 to run over the Burrards.
“Their offence is very potent, and they’re in synch and jelling at the right time of the season,” said Burrards coach Chris Gill. “They’re a very talented team.
“The best team money can buy.”
The Burrards gave Victoria a better series last season, winning one game and keeping the scores closer.
A big difference from that team and this year’s was the loss of Frankie Scigliano, the rookie of the year and league’s top goaltender, to a broken thumb that required surgery.
Gill said Carson Michaud stepped in and performed well in the starter’s absence, but Scigliano was the WLA outstanding goaltender award winner last season, and it was only his rookie campaign.
Also, defenders Garrett McIntosh and Patrick O’meara were two big veterans that had to miss the season due to job commitments.
They were a physical presence on the floor, and good teammates off of it, he said.
The team got off to a terrible start at 2-7, and Gill said the absence of key players who were still participating in the NLL playoffs as the WLA season got underway was a big factor. Even after these talented players arrived, it took time for everything to get into synch. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the league schedule, he said.
“If you have really good players on your team, there’s a good chance they won’t be there to start the season,” lamented Gill.
But the Burrards went 7-2 down the stretch to get into the playoffs with an even 9-9 record.
There were some positives to the season, said Gill. Alberta import Dan Taylor tied with Mike Mallory for the team lead scoring in his first season, with 56 points in 15 games.
He added another 10 points in the playoffs, again tied with Mallory for the team lead.
“He put up some good numbers, and he’s just learning to play with this quality of players,” said Gill.
Right behind the leaders was rookie Connor Goodwin, the Burrard’s first-round pick, with 55 points
Gill said the offence is very young, and was without the injured Riley Loewen for half of the season. He was the team’s leading scorer last season.
Still, it was second highest scoring in the league with 173 goals in 18 games.
Gill starts talking about some of the lines he could put together for next season, and says “there’s a lot of promising things there.”
The defensive side of the game was leaky, also tied for second with the most goals allowed at 168. But the coach says defence is more fix-able, and he has players who are willing to “work their butts off.”
The New Westminster Salmonbellies beat the Langley Thunder in the other WLA semi-final, and will face the Shamrocks in the championship series.