Bears Hibernate as Express Roll Through the Mountain
To say there is not love lost between these two franchises would be an understatement. The rivalry between Westshore and Saanich has been a tremendous one throughout the past 15 years. Although the Cowichan Thunder sits atop of the standings; it was this game tonight that was drawing such overwhelming attention as playoff implications weren’t much of a factor as we know that the Thunder will face the Ravens and the Bears will face the Express, but seedings between Westshore and Saanich are still up in the air. The winner tonight could very well be the 2nd place finisher.
The Bears would start Senft in net while the visiting Express countered with Nolan Tytgat. Both goalies were tested in the first minute with each one standing up to the test but at 18:11 of the period, Peninsula Warriors product Mason Lo buries a low shot between the legs of Senft assisted by Riley Condon and Bryan Toth. At 17:57 Express’ John Etzel takes a major penalty for cross-checking and James Thompson of the Bears takes exception and gains himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, then a 10 minute misconduct and then finally a game misconduct but the home team gets the power play as Tytgat gets a slashing penalty from the crease and the Bears capitalize with two power play goals. Saanich then returns the favour with Mason Lo scoring his 2nd of the night assisted by fellow Peninsula product and midget teammate Jace Francis and tie the game. The Express take the lead on a shorthanded goal by Brayden Flynn, assisted by Lo and John Etzel but the home team would come back with another of their own. The Bears would take the lead 4-3 at 9:57 of the period but the Express didn’t stop at the station and scored 4 more unanswered goals by Jace Francis, John Etzel (x2), and Nic Hoekstra with assists going to Walker (x2), Condon (x2), Snow and Lo to finish the period with the Express leading 7-4 after 20 minutes of play.
With the Bears shorthanded to start the 2nd period, Saanich took full advantage on the power play with Etzel blazing one past the new Bears ’keeper (Damien Spaven) assisted by Brayden Flynn. The next 6 minutes has some good end to end action with a few penalties to boot but some good lacrosse. Then the Bears would score at 13:45 to make the score 8-5 and it appeared as though momentum was in the home teams favour but then the wheels fell off the bus for the Bears and Jace Francis would find the top right corner of the Westshore net assisted by Robbie Walker and Riley Condon. Then Zack Dhillon would score two goals 3 minutes apart; one on a breakaway and the other one shorthanded as he split the defense and drove to the net and beautifully buries a behind-the-back goal to make the score 11-5 for the visiting Express, the lone Express assist on one of the Dhillon goals was by goaltender Nolan Tytgat.
The third period was a quiet one with only a handful of penalties and only 2 goals, one each by the Bears and Express. The Express’ goal by Zack Dhillon who was wearing the “C” tonight in place of absent Captain Dan Barrodale who was away at work. Your Saanich Express have been firing on all cylinders and on a good “team” roll the past 2 weeks and as mentioned earlier, with this 12-6 win has taken over 2nd place in the PNWJLL standings.
The freight train has now earned a well deserved rest over this long weekend before they are back in the rink for practice to prepare for their first round playoff match-up with the Westshore Bears. Playoff dates and games per round are still undetermined at this time but the Express will announce this to their fans once it has been determined.
Okay fans of lacrosse and those still sitting on the tracks in disbelief that the Express are for real; let’s get on the Express Train and cheer on your home team when playoffs are announced. The road to Provincials had begun and the Express need everyone’s support! All Aboard!!!