Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
The Langley Thunder are one win away from the WLA title and their first berth in the Mann Cup since 2012.
The Thunder downed the Nanaimo Timbermen 12-11 in overtime in Game 3 on Tuesday night in Langley to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Langley got a huge boost on offence as Robert Church returned from injury to put up one goal and two assists. Meanwhile, Nanaimo defenceman Jordan Cunningham went down in the first period with what appeared to be a knee injury. He finished out the game, but he was clearly playing on a hurt leg.
Langley will now have a chance to finish off the series for the WLA title on Thursday night in Nanaimo.
Closely contested first period
The Thunder struck first in this game with Dane Dobbie finding a wide-open Keegan Bell in front of the net at 4:42. Curtis Dickson would add to the tally at 7:36 to make it 2-0 for the home squad.
Nanaimo came storming back 58 seconds later when Jon Phillips’ long shot beat Frank Scigliano. Dane Dobbie would restore Langley’s two-goal lead with a shot around a defender at 11:34.
Zach Manns would score from long range with 2:34 left in the period to make the score 3-2 for Langley after one period of play.
Timbermen come back in the second
The Timbermen tied up the game 39 seconds into the second period with a long quick-stick shot from Phillips to make it 3-3. Curtis Dickson would regain Langley’s lead at 3:56. He was able to shake off a defender before shooting low to high for the goal.
And then were was some controversy. Graden Soucy shot a laser beam top corner, hitting the crossbar, at 6:34. The initial call on the field was no goal. After conferring with each other, the official overturned the initial call to make it a good goal. The television replay showed the ball did not cross the goal line. The goal still counted to make it 4-4.
The Timbermen would overtake the lead at the 8:45 mark. On a four-on-two, Adam Wiedemann found himself with the ball alone at the side of the net. He faked several times, getting Scigliano dancing in his crease, before burying it to make it 5-4 for Nanaimo.
Jerrett Smith would work his way to the front of the net and scored at 10:39 to cap a three-goal run for the Timbermen so they took a two-goal advantage.
It would prove to be a moot point. Twenty seconds later, Connor Robinson replied for Langley on a bouncer to get the Thunder back within one. Dickson would get Langley’s sixth goal at 15:53.
Robinson would score the go-ahead goal at 17:33 on a tic-tac-toe play on the power play to make it 7-6. Fifty-nine seconds later on the player play, Taggart Clark scored to tie the game with a howitzer of a shot.
Hiana Thompson’s shot through traffic beat the buzzer with one second left to make it 8-7 for Nanaimo after two periods.
Langley battles back to force OT
Langley would get right back into the game. At 2:53, Church scored on the power play to start a three-goal run for the Thunder. Dylan Kinnear would pay the price for shooting between two defenders but still scored at 5:03 to give Langley a 9-8 lead.
Dobbie used his patience on the power play at 6:18 to use a defender as a screen to score Langley’s 10th goal.
With 5:17 left to play, Chase Scanlan took a delay of game penalty for not dropping the ball after a shot clock violation, which proved to be costly. Taggart Clark scored on the power play at 16:14 to get Nanaimo within one. Twenty-one seconds after that, Will Johansen’s long shot would tie up the game.
Langley had a chance to end the game. At the buzzer, Scanlan had Charles Claxton down and out but missed the open cage. Make the score 10-10 after regulation time.
Kinnear and Dobbie are heroes in overtime
As per WLA rules, both teams play a full 10-minute overtime period. If the score remains tied after that, the game goes to sudden death.
Langley struck first 3:31 into the overtime period with Dobbie scoring on a low bouncing shot. Kinnear would give Langley a two-goal cushion.
The Thunder were happy to run out the clock after that, but it was just about costly. Clark would score with eight seconds left to get Nanaimo back within one. On the ensuing faceoff, Nanaimo would win the draw but could not find the equalizer as Langley is now one win away from the WLA title.
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Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years and has experience covering everything from junior hockey to World Cup skiing to all levels of lacrosse. He is the Saskatchewan correspondent for All Lacrosse All The Time.