Strange occurrences transpired Wednesday night at the Langley Events Centre.
During the second period of a Western Lacrosse Association game involving the host Langley Thunder and Maple Ridge Burrards, the lacrosse world tilted on its axis - at least for a short time.
The WLA-leading Thunder - which led 4-0 after the opening frame - ended up being shellshocked by the cellar-dwelling Burrards during the second period.
Maple Ridge outscored Langley 7-1 through the first 11:13 of the middle stanza.
The Thunder recovered, somewhat, thanks to three second-period goals from Athan Iannucci, but by period's end, the teams were tied 8-8.
The Thunder wound up winning 12-11 in overtime. Joel McCready's second goal of the night, 21 seconds into the extra session, turned out to be the game winner as the Thunder defence shut down the Burrards the rest of the way.
"Really good first period [for us]," Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said. "We totally dominated, but give them credit: they battled back and we didn't handle adversity very well. I'm very happy we tied it up and won it in overtime."
The Thunder moved into top spot in the WLA with an 11-6 record; the Burrards occupy seventh (and last) place with a 3-13-1 mark.
During the second frame, the Burrards didn't resemble a last-place team and looked primed for an upset. Almost every ball the Burrards threw at the Thunder goal found its way into the net. The Burrards' offence was spread out with eight Maple Ridge snipers - Riley Loewen, Curtis Dickson, Jaxson Lee, Brandon Bertoia, David Joyce, Dayne Michaud, Jarrett Davis, and Randy Daly - scoring goals in the middle frame.
"They're back in first place and certainly with the firepower they have in Lewis [Ratcliff], Athan [Iannucci] and [Garrett] Billings, they're built to win the west and head to the Mann Cup," Burrards' head coach Daren Fridge said, regarding the Thunder. "That being said, we had a slow start but I loved our response in the second period. We made some errors down the stretch but it wasn't from a lack of effort."
Thunder coach Rod Jensen pulled starting goaltender Brodie MacDonald from the nets following Michaud's goal at the 9:50 mark.
"I hate pulling goalies but Brodie has to step up and be more challenging," Jensen said.
Backup Steve Fryer came into the game and was immediately scored on, when Davis beat him 11:13 into the period. That goal prompted Jensen to call a time out in an attempt to settle his troops.
It seemed to work for a short time, as Iannucci dove through the air to score a spectacular marker, narrowing Langley's deficit to 7-6.
Iannucci then notched his hat trick goal to tie the game at 7-7.
That's when things got really bizarre. Immediately after Iannucci scored, fisticuffs broke out in front of the Burrards' net and Iannucci, the Thunder's leading scorer, was right in the thick of it.
Iannucci and the Burrards' Joyce threw haymakers at each other in one corner of the rink, while on the other side of the floor, Langley's Alex Turner and Maple Ridge's Kevin Reid grappled, but didn't appear to throw any punches.
All four combatants were tossed from the game.
"It's not a good trade off," Jensen said. "Athan should have backed off and turned away and he ended up getting thrown out."
Fridge was surprised the players were tossed from the game, while acknowledging that the loss of Iannucci hurt the Thunder.
"It's all about time and place. I respect an offensive player who feels he needs to protect himself, and stand up and do that," Fridge said. "Athan is a big guy and so is David Joyce, and no one got hurt."
In the third period, the Thunder's Kerry Susheski and McCready found the net to put Langley ahead 10-8.
Momentum swung Maple Ridge's way once again as Simon Giourmetakis, Dickson, and Daly scored to give the Burrards an 11-10 advantage.
But with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, Ratcliff scored with 49 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In just his fifth game of the season, Billings staked the home team to a 2-0 lead by scoring the first two goals of the game. He went on to add five assists to his totals.
Iannucci scored a hat trick before being tossed from the game.
Ratcliff - who ended up throwing 21 shots on goal - also scored three times while adding two assists. McCready tallied twice while Turner and Susheski had the other Thunder goals.
The Burrards close out their 2012 campaign on Sunday (July 29), when they host the New Westminster Salmonbellies at Planet Ice. The game gets underway at 6:45 p.m.