The Maple Ridge Burrards’ misery continues.
A 10-6 loss to the visiting Nanaimo Timbermen Sunday at Planet Ice drops the Burrards’ record to 1-9-1.
With seven games still to go in its schedule, Maple Ridge has already taken up what appears to be permanent residence in the Western Lacrosse Association cellar.
Burrards’ head coach Daren Fridge said his team will probably have to “run the table” in order to have a shot at post-season play. Last season, the Burrards’ 8-10 record was good enough to secure the fourth and final playoff spot in the WLA.
“We’re in a desperate situation,” Fridge said. “There’s a division between ourselves and the rest of the league. We have to be perfect. To stay in the mix we need to achieve eight or nine victories.”
July is roster deadline day and Fridge, who doubles as the Burrards’ general manager, will be looking to make a few moves to improve the team.
To muddy the waters even further, the injury bug has sunk its teeth deeply into the Burrards.
“We’ve had a rash of injuries that are unexplainable,” he said. “We have five, six, seven guys who we expected to be in our lineup this year, and haven’t had the opportunity to do so.”
The Burrards’ made a valiant third period comeback Sunday, but fell short.
Down 7-3, Maple Ridge got goals from Jarrett Davis, Riley Loewen, and Colton Porter to narrow its deficit to a goal, at 7-6.
That was as close as the Burrards’ got, as the Timbermen scored the final three goals of the game to win decisively.
“That part was positive,” Fridge said, regarding his team’s third-period scoring surge. “After we battled to within one, they got an unfortunate goal that was deflating, and one right after that. After that it was an uninspired effort the rest of the way.”
Nanaimo outscored Maple Ridge 4-2 in the first period and 3-1 during the middle frame.
Burrards’ goal-scorers were Davis with two, Porter, Loewen, Brandon Bertoia, and Simon Giourmetakis.
WLA scoring leader Scott Ranger sparked Nanaimo’s attack with two goals and four assists. Cayle Ratcliffe scored a hat trick while Ryan Keith also potted a pair for the T-Men.
Langley Thunder 16, Burrards 11
It was just after 10 p.m. on Wednesday and the vibe at opposite ends of the Langley Events Centre was markedly different.
On one side, you heard loud music and boisterous chatter emanating from the Langley Thunder dressing room.
Minutes earlier, the defending Western Lacrosse Association playoff champion Thunder had finished off the Maple Ridge Burrards by a 16-11 count.
“I thought we played really well,” Thunder head coach Rod Jensen said. “We had a couple lapses, they got a couple shorthanded goals, but if I asked either goalie if they were happy with their game, they would say no. We get the regular goaltending, what they’re capable of doing, then I think we run away with this.”
Stroll through the hallway to the visitors’ side, and you hear very little, except the low voices of the coaches, having a pow-wow outside their dressing room.
The Burrards were in a dour mood, after falling to 1-8-1.
“Good in parts, but not enough of a consistent effort,” said a frustrated Fridge.
Simply put, Maple Ridge couldn’t keep the ball out of its net. A porous defence makes for an ideal victim for a Thunder roster teeming with talent at both ends of the floor.
“You’re going against a potent, high-powered offence like that, where [the Thunder’s Athan] Iannucci and [Lewis] Ratcliff were dictating play in the first, I felt we responded really well in the second but unfortunately… we’re working through some issues, here. All of it is a bunch of excuses. It’s just whining so I’d rather not go into great detail. Our goal-scorers have to do their part and we’re definitely not aggressive enough on defence. And tonight our goaltenders didn’t do their job.”
The Thunder outscored the Burrards 6-3 in the first period and 5-3 in the final frame. The teams traded five goals each during the second period.
The score would have been even more lopsided if not for late goals from Maple Ridge’s Loewen and Davis to round out the scoring.
Maple Ridge had its moments, and trailed by two, 10-8, late in the second period before Thunder captain Matt Leveque scored an empty netter with three seconds remaining in the frame.
The opening half of the third period belonged to the Thunder, which scored five goals to the Burrards’ one over the first nine minutes and change.
“I was really happy with the way the third period went,” Jensen said. “We know we’re strong, we’ve just got to keep pushing ourselves to play hard and make good decisions.”
Shayne Jackson dominated for the Thunder and finished with three goals and two assists. Star offensive players Lewis Ratcliff and Athan Iannucci had two goals and four assists apiece, Brett Hickey tallied twice and had three assists, while Joel McCready and Ryan McMichael each potted a pair for the home team. Brett Mydske, Leveque, and Alex Turner – who added four assists – rounded out the Thunder goal-scorers.
Loewen notched a hat trick and had an assist while Davis scored twice and added two assists for the Burrards. Randy Daly, Sam Cook, Giourmetakis, Bertoia, Creighton Reid, and Tyler Codron scored singles for the visitors.
Needless to say, it was a rough night for all four goaltenders from both teams.
The Burrards continue to miss Curtis Dickson, who led the team in scoring in 2011 with 46 goals and 78 points while helping Maple Ridge to an 8-10 record.
“If our best player ever plays his first game, things could change,” Fridge said. “When that is and how soon that’s going to be, it’s still a wait in progress. He got hurt late in the NLL season and that had significance in the Calgary Roughnecks not advancing to the playoffs and it has a major impact on us.”
As for his own future, Fridge said, “Am I quitting? Am I stopping coaching? Absolutely not.”