Humphrey sensational as Black Fish throttle Sea Spray

by Gary Ahuja

Black Fish goaltender Brandon Humphrey made 39 saves as his team defeated the Sea Spray 19-6 in semi-final action for the Arena Lacrosse League West Division on March 24 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo

The third time was the charm for the Black Fish.

In all three seasons of existence for the Arena Lacrosse League West Division, the two teams have squared off in the semi-final round, with the Sea Spray prevailing in both 2022 and 2023. But on Sunday afternoon at Langley Events Centre, the Black Fish exacted a measure of revenge, never trailing in a 19-6 one-sided victory.

The victory advances the Black Fish to the ALL West championship series, which will be played on March 27 and 28.

Goaltending was key in the game as the Black Fish’s Brandon Humphrey was sensational, finishing with 39 saves on 45 shots, an .867 save percentage.

“The defence just played great in front of me,” Humphrey said. “We went in with a game plan of who we wanted to get their looks and how we wanted to shut down their best opportunities.”

During the regular season, the Sea Spray had two players in the top three in goal scoring (Adam Dickson with 33 and Tyler Ewen with 32) while Kordell Primus (27 goals) was seventh and James Rahe potted 15 goals in just four games. Plus, they had Tyler Kirkby – who set ALL single-season records in both points (116) and assists (98) – quarterbacking the attack.

But with the season on the line, Kirkby had two goals and five points while the other four were limited to one goal and five assists.

“Those guys are going to get their shots, but we did a pretty good job of limiting their higher percentage chances,” Humphrey said. “We gave them dirty looks that they didn’t want to take as much instead of clean looks in the middle.”

The game featured no goals over the first 9:50 before the Black Fish scored five and the Sea Spray potted a pair for a 5-2 score after 15 minutes. The lead was extended to 9-4 at the half with the Sea Spray never able to get the lead any closer in the second half as they were held to a pair of goals over the final 30 minutes.

“We approached the second half of trying to lock things down, making sure they didn’t get any run, any kind of momentum and keeping our five-goal spread and kept pushing it,” Humphrey said.

“It was one of those perfect games, from our goaltender, defence, offence, all our special teams, everything clicked and went our way. This was probably our best game in 3 years in the ALL,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen, adding that his team did a great job of scooping up rebounds on the defensive end to deny the Sea Spray second-chance opportunities.

With Humphrey and the defence shutting the door at one end, the offence was fueled by six-point games courtesy of Connor Watson (2-4) and Brian Gillis (3-3) while Chase McIntyre (2-3) and Steve McKinley (0-5) each had five-point games. Josh Mills (3-1), Laszlo Henning (2-2), Ethan M’Lot (1-2), Nick Jensen (2-0), Jordan Roberts (2-0), Remo Schenato (1-1) and Ryan Jensen (1-0) rounded out the goal scoring. Temeke7 Gottfriedsen added three assists and Dave Mather did spell Humphrey for 3:26 of game action, stopping all three shots he saw.

While Kirkby led the Sea Spray offence with points on five of the six goals, Gord Phillips (2-0), Vinny Ricci (1-2) and Rahe (1-1) were the only others to beat Humphrey. Ewen did finish with three assists.

Both goaltenders saw action in the Sea Spray goal with Lee Jackman stopping 21 of 34 shots while Keegan Melynchuk had 15 saves on 21 shots.

Half of the Sea Spray’s six goals came on the power play as the team was 3-for-7 while the Black Fish went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.