Black Fish break through for first victory over league-leading Grizzlies

by Gary Ahuja

Black Fish goaltender Justin Geddie was the first star as his previously winless squad knocked off the first-place Grizzlies 12-8 in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on January 8. Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre photos

In a battle of teams at the opposite ends of the standings, it was the winless Black Fish Lacrosse Club coming through with a huge 12-8 victory over the previously unbeaten Grizzlies Lacrosse Club.

The two teams played the late game to wrap up week four action of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on Saturday (January 8). The Grizzlies sit at 3-1 while the Black Fish are 1-3.

In their first three games, the Black Fish have scored a combined 17 goals, so the dozen goals they scored Saturday was double their season average.

“We have had some good periods of lacrosse (this season) but unfortunately have not been consistent enough,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen. “Today, we were consistent and our goalie played really well and made some big saves while our offence played with a little more passion.”

A big story of the game was goaltender Justin Geddie who earned first star honours thanks to a 41-save effort.

“It was huge to get that ‘W’ tonight. We were hanging our heads the first three games, but we put a great effort in against the first-place Grizzlies. I couldn’t be prouder of our team tonight.”

The goaltender credited his defence for making his job easier.

“They were phenomenal. I can’t even put to words how good they were tonight. They gave me the shots I was looking for. They just did so well tonight,” he said.

A big difference between this week and the team’s first three games was the fact the Black Fish have led for a grand total of 11:23 out of 180 minutes of lacrosse.

The Black Fish led 5-1 after a quarter before the Grizzlies scored the only three goals of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 5-4 at the half. But the Black Fish regained control thanks to a 4-1 third quarter before the teams traded three goals apiece in the fourth.

Geddie said it can be straining for a team when they are constantly playing from behind.

“As soon as you start chasing a game, it is tough to get back on top. The offence did their job today and it was awesome to see them start clicking again,” he said.

The Black Fish offence was led by Jon Phillips’ three goals and eight points while Evan Messenger scored four times and Jordan Roberts had a goal and three helpers. The rest of the offence saw Brandon Luitwieler (one goal, two assists), Ethan M’Lot (one goal, one assist), Nathan Romanchych (one goal, one assist), Ryan Jones (two assists) and Nick Jensen (one goal).

The Grizzlies were led by two goals and one assist apiece from Brian Smith and Pearson Willis while Mitch McDole (one goal, two assists) and Jacob Patterson (three assists) also had three-point games. Sekawnee Baker and Kieran McKay each had a goal and an assist while Andrew Gresham had a goal and James Baker had two assists.

“We learn from losses and move on to the next one. We came out flat and can’t do that. I think we honestly thought it was a foregone conclusion and it wasn’t. They have a bunch of good players and came out and played well aggressive,” said Grizzlies coach Rob Williams.

“We believe in all the guys in our dressing room. We have been running through everyone and we came out flat and they were hungrier than us.”

The Black Fish (1-3) will look to make it two straight wins when they face the Sea Spray (3-1) on Sunday, January 16 at 1:00pm. The Grizzlies (3-1) will face the Shooting Eagles (1-3) later that same day at 4:00pm. Both games are at Langley Events Centre.