Sea Spray edge Shooting Eagles in shootout

by Gary Ahuja

Keegen Bell (left to right), Preston Lupul and Gordie Phillips celebrate a Sea Spray goal during their team's 17-16 win over the Shooting Eagles on December 12 at Langley Events Centre in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action. Photos by Damon James Langley Events Centre

There was no early-season rust when it came to the offensive side of the floor as the Sea Spray Lacrosse Club and Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club combined for 33 goals in their respective Arena Lacrosse League debuts.

The two West Division foes hit the floor for the first time on Sunday at Langley Events Centre with Tyler Kirkby’s power-play goal with 6:46 remaining proving to be the game-winning tally. Kirkby scored 67 seconds after teammate Nick Preston had snapped a tie game. Jake Forster did cut the deficit to one goal with 3:33 to play, but that would be it for the offence as Kirkby’s tally stood as the winner as the Sea Spray knocked off the Shooting Eagles 17-16.

It was a balanced attack for the Sea Spray as they had six players (Kevin Powers, Keegan Bell, John Hofseth, Preston Lupul, Nick Preston and David Byrne) each score two goals with Sam Clare, Parker Kump, Adam Dickson and Dalton Lupul tallying a goal apiece.

Clare also had five assists to earn the game’s first star, while Kump, Powers and Bell each had four-point games.

Clare, who has previously played back east a few years ago in the ALL and spent some time in the National Lacrosse League, was a late addition to the game.

“I just wanted to come in and make everyone around me a bit better, wanted to provide a bit of a distraction to a lot of the other guys out there, open space up,” he said.

Sea Spray coach Russ Heard liked his team’s effort – and the fact they got the two points – but knows that they made mistakes which need correcting if the team wants success moving forward.

The Sea Spray were up 12-8 five minutes into the third quarter, but then watched as the Shooting Eagles scored the period’s final four goals to knot the score at 12.

“We try not to beat them when they are down, you try and lift them up,” Heard said. “We started the fourth quarter at 0-0 and went from there.”

The teams traded goals to open the fourth before the Shooting Eagles pulled ahead 15-13 less than four minutes into the final period, but the Sea Spray would respond with four of the final five goals to earn the two points.

Matteo Tack made 37 saves on 53 shots for the Sea Spray while his counterpart Andrew Gallant made 47 saves on 63 shots for the Shooting Eagles.

The Shooting Eagles were led offensively by three goals and six points from Dean Fairall and two goals apiece from Jake Forster, Greg Lunde, Cole Christiaens and Mark Yingling. Forster also had three assists for a five-point game, while Lunde added two assists and was the game’s second star. Preston Lupul (Sea Spray) was the game’s third star.

On the Shooting Eagles side of things, coach Adam Smith liked his offence and how they moved the ball around, especially against a quality netminder like Matteo Tack, but knows defensively surrendering 17 goals in a game is not a recipe for success.

“We have to clean some stuff up on the back end. A few systems on the back-end that just aren’t there yet, so you put those in place and that takes off four or five goals,” he said.

The third quarter was a perfect example of that as they did a better job of communicating on the floor and managed to hold their opponent to one goal over those 15 minutes. But in the fourth quarter, they got away from that and were caught out of position and the Sea Spray capitalized.

“We stopped talking and were caught out of position and all of a sudden, they pop in three of four goals and go on a run,” Smith said.

The Shooting Eagles (0-1) are back in action on Saturday, December 18 against the Grizzlies (1-0) while the Sea Spray (1-0) face the Black Fish (0-1) on Sunday, December 19. Both games begin at 6:00pm.