Grizzlies surge late, top Black Fish

by Gary Ahuja

James Baker celebrates one of his three goals during the Grizzlies 11-9 win over the Black Fish in week seven Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on Saturday. Garrett James Langley Events Centre photos

Three goals in a span of 3:40 in the fourth quarter helped the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club break an 8-8 and return to the win column.

The Grizzlies faced the Black Fish Lacrosse Club on Saturday afternoon in week seven action of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division at Langley Events Centre, winning 11-9 to improve on the season to 5-2. The loss dropped the Black Fish to 1-6.

The lone Black Fish victory came at the expense of the Grizzlies back in week four.

“Most definitely, you can’t drop two to the same team,” said the Grizzlies’ Garrett Lewis on avenging the earlier defeat.  “We just settled in and just played our game. We know the intensity we can play with and we know our identity and we want to play like Grizzlies every night.”

After surrendering the game’s first two goals, the Black Fish scored three straight to lead 3-2 after 15 minutes. The teams went to halftime tied at six and the third quarter saw neither team able to muster much offensively, scoring just a single goal apiece and setting the stage for a tense fourth quarter.

The teams each scored once in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter before Jacob Patterson tallied twice sandwiched around an Erik Maas goal to give the Grizzlies the lead for good. Evan Messenger cut the deficit back to two but only 72 seconds remained.

“We just told our offence to cherish the rock. We can’t be going down and throwing the ball away. We need to be burning 20, 25 seconds off the clock,” Lewis said.

“There are growing pains. We are getting better with each game and it showed tonight: hard work is going to win the game. All the teams are evenly matched,” said Grizzlies coach Yul Baker. “The message was that hard work is going to win the game. Be smart and move the ball, let the ball do the work.”

The Black Fish remain the only one of the four teams to average less than 10 goals per game.

“Our offence has got to score (more). In this league, you have to be over 10, 12 goals. Credit to their defence, they stepped up, and their goalie played really well,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen, who noted that the third quarter when they scored a single goal was the difference in the game.

“I am challenging our offensive players. On paper, they are pretty good solid player, but they have to deliver the mail when it counts.”

Despite the loss, Jensen was happy with aspects of his team’s game.

“They compete hard, the battle hard. They have blood on their knees. They turned the ball over too much – that is a problem – but I think our systems are getting better,” he said.

James Baker led the Grizzlies with a hat trick while Steve McKinlay set up four goals and Andrew Gresham had three helpers. Patterson, Maas and Andrew Joseph each scored twice while Garrett Lewis (one goal, two assists) and Brian Smith (one goal, one assist) had the other Grizzlies goals.

Brandon Humphrey made 37 saves on 46 shots for the victory. David Mather stopped 28 of 39 shots for the Black Fish. Laszlo Henning led the Black Fish with three goals and one assist and Messenger also had a four-point game with two goals and two assists. Jon Phillips also had a four-point game after setting up a quartet of goals. Greg Lunde (one goal, two assists), Ethan M’Lot (one goal, one assist), Anthony Buono (one goal, one assist) and Isaac Bot (one goal) rounded out the Black Fish scoring.