Black Fish edge Grizzlies in regular season finale

by Gary Ahuja

Brandon Humphrey makes one of his 44 saves during the Black Fish's 14-12 win over the Grizzlies in Arena Lacrosse League action at Langley Events Centre on March 21. photos courtesy of Gary Ahuja LEC 

A 44-save performance from goaltender Brandon Humphrey has the Black Fish heading to the post-season on a winning note.

Humphrey – the game’s first star – helped his team overcame an early 6-3 deficit as they rallied to defeat the Grizzlies 14-12 in the Arena Lacrosse League West Division regular season finale for both clubs on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre.

While both teams were locked into their playoff position prior to the game, they were each riding losing streaks with the Black Fish (6-8) having lost two straight and the Grizzlies (4-10) mired in a lengthy losing skid which has now seen them drop eight straight following a 4-2 start to the season.

The win was a fourth in five tries for the Black Fish in the season series over the Grizzlies.

“Humphrey is a solid goalie. He makes a lot of saves and makes our team a better. That’s what it takes to win big games, having a strong goalie,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen, on the goaltender his team acquired from the Grizzlies back in early February.

Humphrey – the reigning ALL West Goalie of the Year – has gone 2-1 in his three starts since joining the team with an 11.46 goals against average and .796 save percentage.

And with the goaltender shutting the door at one end, the Black Fish used an efficient transition game on Tuesday to overcome the fact they were playing with a deleted line-up which was missing three right-handed offensive players and then lost a key defender early in the game.

“Gutsy effort only having 14 runners – 13 after we lost Kellner – it can only be a positive heading into do-or-die playoffs,” Jensen said.

Knowing they did not have their full complement of offensive players, the coach said the plan was to push the ball when the opportunity presented itself and they capitalized on their opportunities.

“We shot the ball and were able to hit the spots and it paid off,” Jensen said.

Three Black Fish players each finished with hat tricks – Laszlo Henning (3+3), Nick Jensen (3+1) and Brian Gillis (3+1) while Ryan Jensen added two goals and five points. Ryan Jones (1+2), Reese Barnes (1+1) and Conrad Squarek (1+1) rounded out the team’s attack.

Ryan Jensen was the game’s third star, with Grizzlies goaltender Kyle Mooney earning the second star following his 41-save performance.

Offensively, the Grizzlies were led by Sekawnee Baker’s two goals and seven points. He was one of five Grizzlies with multi-goal games along side Mitch McDole (2+3), Brian Smith (2+1), Erik Maas (2+1) and Braydon Laity (2+0). Alex Dozzi (1+1) and Stryker Roloff (1+0) rounded out the team’s scoring.

Black Fish's Conrad Squarek (left) fends off Grizzlies' Cody Garrison.