Blake delivers late dagger as Shooting Eagles hold off Grizzlies

by Gary Ahuja

Rhys Blake and Drew Kask battle during the first quarter of their team's Arena Lacrosse League West Division game at Langley Events Centre on Jan. 21. Blake scored the winner late in the game as the Shooting Eagles defeated the Grizzlies 17-15. Ryan Molag photo

With the game in the final minute and the score tied, Rhys Blake had a decision to make. Known more for helping prevent goals than for scoring them himself, the Shooting Eagles defender found himself in front of the opposition’s net but surrounded by Grizzlies defenders.

“In the video, you will probably see me think for a millisecond on whether I should take that shot or pull it out and pass it to one of the O guys,” he explained. “But I felt like I had a good opportunity. I threw it behind the back, and it went in luckily.”

The goal snapped a tie game and 19 seconds later, Dylan McIntosh scored his fourth of the game to seal a 17-15 win for the Shooting Eagles over the Grizzlies.

The teams were playing on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 21) at Langley Events Centre in week 9 action of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division. The Shooting Eagles are at the top of the division with a 7-2 mark while the Grizzlies remain stuck in fourth place at 2-7.

“It definitely gave the boys a big boost. Everyone is pretty hyped up, especially coming from a D guy on the back end,” Blake said of his first goal of the season.

The two goals in the final minute capped off a back-and-forth game which saw the teams combine for 32 goals. The Eagles never trailed in the contest.

“Definitely tough to give up a bunch of goals, but it also helps when you see your team sticking through it and committing to the win,” Blake said.

The win makes it two straight for the defending champions who hold a two-game lead for top spot with six games remaining in the regular season. Dating back to last year when the Shooting Eagles were 10-4 (not including playoffs), they have won 14 of their past 16 regular season games.

“We are a tight unit, we are always communicating over social media, boys are hanging out. We are keeping everyone accountable when mistakes are made but not getting down on the guys. Everyone is teaching each other what should be done and not getting on each other’s backs,” Blake said.

 While Blake registered the winner, McIntosh led the way for the Eagles as the game’s first star had four goals and six assists, having a hand in 10 of his team’s 17 goals. 

Mark Yingling was the third star following a three goal, eight-point performance. Dylan Lacroix also had a hat trick. Coady Adamson (2-3) and Declan Fitzpatrick (2-2) both had two-goal games with Logan Cote and Tysen Nielsen tallying once apiece. Alex Buque stopped 31 of 46 shots.

Tyson Johnson was strong on the draws, helping the Eagles earn possession by winning 24 of the 32 face-offs he took.

For the Grizzlies, Kyle Brunsch was the second star after scoring four goals and finishing with six points and Drew Kask had a pair of goals to go along with his four helpers. Pearson Willis (2-2), Sekawnee Baker (2-1), Connor Whyte (1-2), Aidan Baker (1-1), Ben Musso (1-0), Nash Moog (1-0) and Andrew Joseph (1-0) rounding out their team’s scoring. Ryder Bremner finished with 32 saves on 49 shots.