Bell buries five as Sea Spray take over top spot

by Gary Ahuja

Keegan Bell scored five times as the Sea Spray held off the Black Fish 17-16 in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on January 22. Ryan Molag LEC photo

Keegan Bell’s fifth goal of the game was the difference as he snapped a tie game with 87 seconds to play, sending the Sea Spray to a 17-16 win over the Black Fish. The teams were playing on Sunday afternoon at Langley Events Centre in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action.

It was the Sea Spray’s sixth-straight one-goal game and fifth win in that span, which has helped them overcome an 0-2 start to take over first place at 5-3 to kick off the season’s second half.

“We hate winning by more than one, I guess. They are entertaining, they are real fun to watch, but it would be nice to get a win where we are holding on to the ball and trying to kill the 30 instead of scrambling for goals late. But it makes it fun to play in and we are doing well so far,” Bell said.

“We have to score more than five in the second; it shouldn’t have been that close, but we got the win, so that is huge.”

The teams traded big runs in the first half – it was 4-1 Sea Spray, 7-4 Black Fish and then 12-8 Sea Spray at the half before the Black Fish would tie the game at 13 late in the third quarter, setting the stage for a fourth quarter where the Sea Spray would take the lead only to have the Black Fish respond back.

“Last week we were happy with our one-goal win; today, we are happy we won, but we are not happy with how we played. We made too many errors (but) credit to their team, they didn’t stop fighting and kept coming back and finding ways to score goals,” said Sea Spray coach Russ Heard.

“We just made too many mental errors that gave them a lot of those opportunities. “We have to think the game a little bit better.”

Tyler Kirkby led the Sea Spray with a pair of goals and nine points while Bell (5+3) and Marcus Klarich (3+5) had matching eight-point games. Vinny Ricci (2+3), Adam Dickson (2+1), Eli Batt (2+0) and Tyler Ewen (1+2) also found the back of the net. Lee Jackman finished with 28 saves on 37 shots after entering the game in the second quarter. Reed Watson started the game, allowing seven goals on a dozen shots.

Four power-play goals (and another two with the extra attacker) were key for the team as was the Sea Spray pick-and-roll, Bell said.

“Getting to the middle, getting inside, getting to the dirty areas, was instrumental for us tonight.”

The Black Fish were looking for their first two-game winning streak and were coming off a game in which they allowed a season-low nine goals against. But while their offence matched a season-high 16 goals they scored in the opening week, they came up a goal short.

Connor Watson (3+6) and Laszlo Henning (3+2) both scored hat tricks while Jordan Roberts and Brian Gillis each potted a pair of goals with two assists. Chase McIntyre (1+3), Conrad Squarek (1+2), Aidan Murphy (1+1) and Anthony Buono (1+1) also had multi-point games with Brandon Luitwieler and Ryan Jensen potting a goal apiece.

Ryan Atkinson (15 saves on 25 shots) and Matt Hills (14 saves on 21 shots) split the goaltending duties for the Black Fish.

Box Score

Black Fish's Brandon Luitwieler defends against a member of the Sea Spray during ALL West Division action at Langley Events Centre on January 22. Ryan Molag LEC photo