“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
The Nanaimo Timbermen hosted the Victoria Shamrocks at Frank Crane Arena in a Saturday night WLA tilt. The Shamrocks had beaten Coquitlam just 24 hours prior, lifting them into a three-way tie with Coquitlam and Nanaimo for first place with 10 wins on the season. Nanaimo was playing their 17th of 18 games, but took advantage of being on fresher legs than Victoria, winning 10-8. The win gives the Timbermen sole possession of first place in the standings with an 11-6 record. Victoria is tied with Coquitlam for second place, each team with 10 wins, and both teams with several games in hand on Nanaimo.
Strong first period gives Timbermen the lead
Jordan Cunningham opened the scoring, beating Shamrocks goaltender Ryan Atkinson less than a minute into the game (0:54). Chris Wardle (2g; 3:45) equalized for Victoria before Jon Phillips (2g, 1a; 5:15) netted a power play marker to re-establish the Timbermen’s one goal lead. Jerrett Smith would add two more (15:41; 18:33), with a goal from Victoria’s Brad McCulley (17:24) sandwiched in between. Evan Messenger would add a goal with 15 seconds left on the clock to send the Timbermen into the second period leading 5-2.
The teams traded three goals each in the second period. Teioshontateh McComber scored 36 seconds in to extend the Timbermen’s lead to 6-2. Jacob Ruest would answer with a strike at 2:24. Phillips (3:12) would net his second for Nanaimo, sending Atkinson to the Victoria bench and Colin Jeffrey into the net for relief duty. Wardle (4:41; power play) and McCulley (9:53) each netted their second for the Shamrocks before Adam Wiedemann (14:15) completed the second period scoring to make it 8-5 Nanaimo heading into the final frame.
Timbermen withstand Victoria rally
Cunningham’s second at 1:14 pushed Nanaimo’s lead back to four. Larson Sundown (1g, 1a; 4:09) responded for the Shamrocks. Ethan Ticehurst (11:45), with an assist from Wiedemann, pushed the lead back to four. Ruest’s second (13:11; power play) and Jake Foster (16:02) cut the Timbermen’s lead to two, but Victoria could get no closer.
The Timbermen have clinched a playoff spot with the win. However, they could be seeded as low as #4 by way of their 1-2 record versus Langley, should the teams finish with identical records. Nanaimo hosts Maple Ridge in their final regular season game Sunday 7/24.
The Shamrocks drop to 10-4 with the loss, tied for second with Coquitlam (10-5). They also lose the season series (1-2) against Nanaimo. Victoria’s remaining schedule: at Burnaby Tuesday 7/26, home against Langley Friday 7/29, at Maple Ridge Sunday 7/31, at Langley Wednesday 8/3.
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Jordan Cunningham, Nanaimo (2g, 2a)
2nd Star: Chris Wardle, Victoria (2g)
3rd Star: Jerrett Smith, Nanaimo (2g)
Other Stats of Note
Shots were even, with each team taking 46 for the game
David Byrne (Nanaimo): 12 of 21 on faceoffs
Jesse King (Victoria): 4 assists; second straight game held without a goal
Colin Jeffrey (Victoria): 23 saves on 26 shots over 36:48 in relief
Devlin Shanahan (Nanaimo): 38 saves, 0.826 sv %
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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.