Potent power play leads to game one Black Fish victory

by Gary Ahuja

A strong defensive effort -- especially on the penalty kill -- helped the Black Fish defeat the Shooting Eagles 13-12 in game one of the ALL West Finals on March 27 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo

Superior special teams helped the Black Fish take game one.

The Black Fish scored four times with the man advantage – adding a short-handed goal for good measure – while holding the Shooting Eagles to a single power-play goal (which came in the last minute) for the 13-12 victory to open the Arena Lacrosse League West Finals on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre.

The Black Fish were 4-for-7 (although their last power play opportunity was for the game’s final 12 seconds when all they were doing was protecting the ball) while the Shooting Eagles went 1-for-6. During the regular season, the Shooting Eagles scored on 57 percent of their power-play chances while killing off 52 percent of their penalties. By comparison, the Black Fish checked in at 48 and 43 percent, respectively.

“We have pretty good skilled players (and) I think they are more patient now,” said Black Fish coach Rod Jensen, explaining that his power play unit did a good job of drawing their opponent out of position to get a better look. “And (Alex) Buque is a good goalie, so we have just been focusing on hitting the corners and not hesitating.”

The Shooting Eagles led 5-3 after a quarter and the score was tied at 10 with just over five minutes gone in the second half, but the Black Fish clamped down defensively, holding their opponent scoreless over the next 18:48.

“I don’t think we played our best. These guys are the defending champs. They are a good team and well coached, but I just think we are peaking,” Jensen said.

Goaltender Brandon Humphrey finished with 38 saves on 50 shots, with 30 of those coming after the opening quarter. Offensively, the Black Fish were led by six points from Brian Gillis (two goals, four assists) while Connor Watson and Laszlo Henning each had hat tricks and five points. Ethan M’Lot matched his teammates five-point outings with a pair of goals and three assists. Remo Schenato (1-3), Ryan Jones (1-2), Jordan Roberts (1-0) and Ryan Jensen (1-0) completed their team’s scoring.

Declan Fitzpatrick led the Shooting Eagles with four goals and an assist, while Mark Yingling (3-1) and Dylan Lacroix (1-3) each had four-point games. Ben Gagnon (1-2), Doug Porter (1-1), Logan Cote (1-1) Patrick Corbett (1-0) also scored. Alex Buque finished with 44 saves on 57 shots.

Game two of the series goes on Thursday (March 28) at 7:00pm with the Shooting Eagles looking to keep their championship hopes alive. Should they win, the two teams would play a 10-minute mini-game following a short intermission after the conclusion of the second game.