Islanders defence steps up in opener
Delta opens semi-final series with 12-7 home floor win over New West
Mark Booth / Delta Optimist/JULY 18, 2016
What has to be considered the greatest concern of getting in the way of the Delta Islanders’ Minto Cup dream passed with flying colours Sunday night.
The Islanders were outstanding at their own end of the floor for much of the 60 minutes in a 12-7 victory over the New Westminster Salmonbellies to take a 1-0 lead in the B.C. Junior “A” Lacrosse League best-of-seven semi-final series. Game two is slated for Tuesday (8 p.m.) at Queen’s Park Arena.
Despite a franchise best 15-6 regular season record, the second place Islanders have been vulnerable defensively — ranking just fifth in the eight team circuit in goals against. It led to a number of acquisitions prior to the league trading deadline, including goalie Kevin Orelman from the Ontario Junior “A” League.
The former Kitchener-Waterloo star was superb with 46 saves and received excellent work in front of him as the hosts took a commanding 11-3 lead into the final period.
Delta set the tone for the dominant performance early in the first period when a huge open floor hit by Javier Tudela resulted in a major penalty and a mini-brawl. The Islanders came out of the melee shorthanded for five minutes. They killed off the major then scored three unanswered goals to lead 5-2 after the opening period.
Defenders Reece Callies and Nick Jensen even chipped in with breakaway goals, while face-off specialist Tyrell Hamer-Jackson opened the scoring just seven seconds in.
The Islanders’ top guns also did their part, including another Ontario import — Cam Milligan — with two goals and a team high nine shots as he looks more comfortable running Delta’s power play. Aidan Milburn had a hat trick, while rookie Riley Phillips scored twice. Evan Messenger and Jayden Campbell also scored. Jon Phillips was prominent in a playmaking role with six assists.
With so much on the line, the teams engaged in another multi-fight skirmish midway through the third period. It resulted in extended power play time for the Salmonbellies and three straight goals to close out the game — outshooting Delta 24-4 in the final stanza.
Game three will be back in Ladner on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Delta is expected to have second-year standout Tre Leclaire back in the line-up for game two after he helped Canada finish second at the U19 World Field Lacrosse Championships in Coquitlam.
Leclaire was named to the All-World Team at midfield but the award must have felt bittersweet as the US rallied from an 8-2 deficit to pull out a 13-12 victory. It was the Americans eighth consecutive title since the event’s inception back in 1988.
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