South Fraser struggling to score
Playing against two of the best teams in the B.C. Junior Lacrosse League isn’t the easiest way to start the season.
But after losses against the defending provincial champion Burnaby Lakers last week and at home to the Victoria Shamrocks Sunday afternoon, the South Fraser Stickmen insist they have improved since last season.
“There’s a lot of things we have to work on, but we’re starting to make strides,” said head coach Curtis Gulliford. “It’s better than where we were last year, where we were getting blown out every game.”
The Stickmen didn’t come close to victory in either of their first two outings, although they did surprise each opponent at times. They fell 13-8 in Burnaby, but had a 5-3 lead after the first period before the Lakers pumped eight goals into the Stickmen net in the second frame.
Sunday against the Shamrocks, South Fraser trailed 4-1 after 20 minutes, then netted three goals in the first five minutes of the second period to tie the game. But Victoria shut down the Stickmen the rest of the way, cruising to a 10-5 win.
“Victoria has some very talented players, some first team all-stars,” said Gulliford. “We have a lunch-bucket crew trying to get better as a group.”
With the exception of the first period against the Lakers, the Stickmen are struggling offensively, both in terms of goals scored and opportunities created. They were credited with just 12 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes in Burnaby, and were outshot 65-33 Sunday afternoon.
Greg Mahony, Darryl Stickler, Jordan Lypchuk, Sean Messenger, Jordie Willing, Scott Davidson, Travis Voisey and Jordan Innes each netted a goal against Burnaby, with Messenger assisting on three for a four-point game.
Davidson and Mahony had two each Sunday, with Voisey adding a single.
Offseason acquisition Mike Lowe started both games in goal. He made 22 saves on 33 shots against the Lakers, before giving way to Graham Chandler in the third period. Chandler stopped 14 of 16 shots.
Lowe was much busier Sunday, keeping the Stickmen close with a 55-save performance.
The Stickmen have another tough test tomorrow night when they host the Coquitlam Adanacs at 8 p.m. at the North Surrey Recreation Centre.
Then on Saturday, they play in Ladner against the Delta Islanders. South Fraser, the Islanders and the Nanaimo Timbermen are expected to battle for the final playoff position as they did a year ago.
South Fraser came up short last season, winning just three games, two back of the Timbermen and Delta.