Eight apples for Kirkby as Sea Spray edge Black Fish

by Gary Ahuja

Tyler Kirkby (#19) finished with eight assists -- he leads the Arena Lacrosse League West Division in both assists (33) and points (40) -- as the Sea Spray defeated the Black Fish 12-10 on Dec. 17 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo

Eight assists from Tyler Kirkby – six of which came in the first half – set the tone as the Sea Spray built a multi-goal advantage on their way to a 12-10 win.

“They are doing a great job and I can’t take sole kudos – they are doing a lot of the work,” Kirkby said following his first-star performance. “My teammates are getting open. Everyone is crashing and banging, I am just holding the ball and watching for guys cutting.”

Facing the Black Fish on Sunday in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre, Kirkby directed the offence as he has done all season long, and he now leads the league with 33 assists and 40 points.

“He is seeing the guys who are open and getting the ball to them, that’s the biggest thing,” added Sea Spray coach Darren McEwen.

Another significant advantage was the fact the Sea Spray possessed the ball much more than their opponent, as they went 17-9 on faceoffs. Gord Phillips was 14-7 for the game, including 11-1 in the first half. 

The Sea Spray led 3-1 after a period and used a six-goal second quarter to lead 9-4 at the half.

“We battled hard. In the first half, we controlled it, I think we might have gotten gassed in the second half, but we pulled through,” McEwen said. 

“For some reason, we don’t match the intensity in the beginning of games. They came out, had good feet at both ends of the floor,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen.

“In the end, we were battling, and we can play with anybody. You can’t just turn the switch on and off because there is talent in this league, and you are going to pay for it.”

The power play was another huge factor as the Sea Spray scored on five of their eight opportunities.

While Kirkby earned first star honours, Tyler Ewen was the second star following four goals and six points. Vinny Ricci (3-1) and Adam Dickson (3-0) both had hat tricks while Conner Stroup and Evan Pattison chipped in a goal each. Keegan Melynchuk stopped 33 of 43 shots.

For the Black Fish, Laszlo Henning (who was the third star) had three goals and four points. Connor Watson (1-2), Chase McIntyre (1-1), Josh Mills (1-1), Brian Gillis (1-1) Nick Jensen (1-1) and Trent Kellner and Remo Schenato each scored a goal. Brandon Humphrey had 45 saves on 57 shots.