Sea Spray thump Grizzlies in first-place showdown

by Gary Ahuja

Aidan Ellis (right) is congratulated by Rob Hofseth after Ellis opened the scoring in the Sea Spray's 18-12 win over the Grizzlies on February 9 in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action. Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre photos

Three goals in 39 seconds gave the Sea Spray Lacrosse Club a lead they would not relinquish.­­

Buoyed by that quick start – the goals came in the game’s first four minutes – the Sea Spray defeated the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club 18-12 in week nine Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on Tuesday night. The victory puts the Sea Spray at 6-3, just ahead of the 5-4 Grizzlies, with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Sea Spray led from start to finish, most of the time by multi-goals as after falling behind almost immediately, the Grizzlies were only able to claw the score back to 4-3 at the midway point of the first quarter. The rest of the game saw them have no answer for the speed and pressure of the Sea Spray transition game, as they were able to force turnovers and then capitalize on the counterattack.

“Playing a really strong transition game has always been our focus and the boys showed up and scored some timely goals. It just seemed like everyone was clicking: the ‘O ‘wasn’t missing any passes, the defence was talking and not letting any picks into the middle and Lee stood on his head too,” Dickson said, referencing goaltender Lee Jackman, who stopped 36 of 48 Grizzlies shots.

It was a balanced attack for the Sea Spray as 10 players found the back of the net, led by four goals (and one assist) from Adam Dickson. Parker Kump (two goals, two assists), Nick Preston (two goals, two assists), Connor Goodwin (two goals, one assist), Dalton Lupul (two goals) and Aidan Ellis (two goals) all had multi-goal games while Rob Hofseth, Brendan Szabo, Preston Lupul and Eli Batt scored once apiece. Tyler Kirkby (seven assists) and James Rahe (six assists) were the first and second star, respectively.

The Grizzlies entered the game with the stingiest defence among the four ALL West teams, allowing 11.25 goals per game, but the Sea Spray managed to surpass that total in the first half alone.

“It was key for us to get off to a good start today. The last couple of games, our wins and losses have been between our ears. When we have won, it is because we have played smart,” said Sea Spray coach Russ Heard. “Today our focus was to play smart for 60 minutes and we did that.”

“The team we drafted is very athletic and when we play our best, it is outworking the other team and overpowering them and getting those transition chances and turnovers. That is a big make-up of our team,” he said.

In the other locker room, the Grizzlies are left looking for answers as they have now dropped four of their past six games following a 3-0 start.

“We weren’t focused, and that starts with us as coaches,” said Grizzlies coach Rob Williams, referencing the fact the coaching staff became too engaged with the officials, and that filtered down to the players.

James Baker (four goals, one assists), Steve McKinlay (two goals, four assists) and Erik Maas (one goal, five assists) led the Grizzlies offence. Mitchell Nolet (two goals), Sekawnee Baker (one goal, two assists), Andrew Joseph (one goal, one assist) and Jacob Patterson (one goal) had the other Grizzlies tallies.

Brandon Humphrey made 42 saves on 59 shots, with Kyle Mooney stopping two of the three shots he faced when he entered the game for a few minutes in the second quarter.

Week 10 will see the Sea Spray (6-3) face the Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club (4-5) on February 15 while the Grizzlies (5-4) match up against the Black Fish Lacrosse Club (3-6) on February 16. Both games are at 7:00pm at Langley Events Centre.