Brunsch pots another four, Grizzlies win third straight

by Gary Ahuja

Drew Kask tries to step past the check of Ryan Jensen during Arena Lacrosse League West action at Langley Events Centre on March 13. The Grizzlies won a third straight game, defeating the Black Fish 12-11 in overtime. Gary Ahuja photo

Don’t look now but the Grizzlies are getting hot at the right time.

After a painstaking nine-game losing streak in the middle portion of the season, the Grizzlies have won three in a row, having defeated each of the other three teams in the Arena Lacrosse League West division in the process.

The most recent victory came on Wednesday (March 13) at Langley Events Centre as they posted a 12-11 overtime win over the Black Fish, never trailing in the contest, as they improved to 5-9 with one game to go in the regular season.

The Black Fish – with a four-minute power play in the final minute of regulation – scored with less than eight seconds to play to extend the game, and while still enjoying the man advantage, they had a chance at the winner, but instead if was the Grizzlies’ Nash Moog scooping up a loose ball and scoring on a breakaway.

“It was tough at the start,” admitted Kyle Brunsch about the losing streak which erased a 2-1 start to the season for the team. “But once the games started getting closer, we knew we were on the right track.”

He was referencing the team’s final five games of that losing streak where the defeats came by a combined six goals.

Brunsch has been a big reason for the team’s turnaround as he scored four times and finished with five points in the overtime win and this marked his seventh-straight multi-goal game and he has found the back of the net 26 times in that span.

“The chemistry is hitting on cylinders right now. Everyone is playing for each other; we are all working hard for each other, and I am just finishing my chances,” he said about not only his individual success but also the team finding its stride.

“We are coming together as a team just in time for playoffs.”

In Wednesday’s win, the Grizzlies – who never trailed – were ahead 10-7 early in the fourth quarter before the Black Fish struck for four of the next five goals to extend the game beyond 60 minutes.

While Brunsch led the way with his four-goal game, goaltender Brayden Wandler was stellar in net as his team was outshot 63-48 with Wandler finishing with 52 saves, an .825 save percentage. Sekawnee Baker (2-1), Pearson Willis (1-3), Drew Kask (1-2), Brian Smith (1-1), Dylan McCormick (1-0) and Moog (1-0) had the rest of the offence. Brunsch and Willis were the first and third stars on the night, respectively.

For the Black Fish, Chase McIntyre was the second star with a three-goal, six-point game while Ethan M’Lot (2-3) and Connor Watson (2-2) both had two-goal outings. Josh Mills and Brian Gillis each had a goal and two assists while Laszlo Henning (1-1) and Connar Abrams (1-0) rounded out the scoring. Dave Mather stopped 36 of 48 shots.

The ALL West regular season wraps up on Sunday (March 17) with the Black Fish (6-8) playing the Sea Spray (8-6) at 1:00pm followed by the Shooting Eagles (9-5) and the Grizzlies (5-9) at 4:00pm.