Seventh-straight win earns Shooting Eagles top spot

by Gary Ahuja

Justin Digby and Adam Noakes (#6) celebrate Noakes' first-quarter goal in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre on March 22. Gary Ahuja LEC photos

The Shooting Eagles are flying high heading into the post-season.

At the midway point of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division season, the team sat at 3-4. Three of those four defeats were by a single goal and Adam Smith said the coaching staff liked what they were seeing from their squad.

“We knocked the dust off, stuck with our systems. The guys stayed level-headed through the games where we faced challenges. They worked hard and earned this,” he explained.

What the team earned was first place in the West Division following a seventh-straight victory to close out the regular season on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre.

The Shooting Eagles were facing the Sea Spray with first place heading into this weekend’s playoffs on the line. The teams had split their previous four meetings, but the fifth meeting saw the Eagles race out to an 11-2 halftime lead on route to the 16-10 victory.

 The score was tied at one just past the midway point of the first quarter before the Shooting Eagles offence took flight, scoring 10 of the next 11 goals for an 11-2 lead at the half. The Sea Spray would cut into the deficit with three consecutive power-play goals to open the third quarter and won the second half 8-5, but the hill was too much to climb.

The Shooting Eagles were led by four goals and six points from captain Coady Adamson while Adam Noakes scored twice and set up six others for an eight-point game and first star honours. Spencer Bromley (2+2), Mark Yingling (2+2), Dylan Lacroix (2+1) and Garrett Winter (2+1) each scored twice with Dylan McIntosh (1+3) and Justin Digby (1+0) rounding out the scoring. Goaltender Brody Harris finished with 29 saves on 39 shots and was the game’s second star.

In addition to being the hottest team in the division, the Shooting Eagles enter the post-season with the highest-ranked offence and the only squad with a positive goals for/goals against differential at +28.

“We have a strong offence: they can all shoot, they can all get inside, they all have their strengths, and it makes it really difficult to even decide who is going to come out for healthy scratches,” Smith said.

The Shooting Eagles were the only team in the West with two players in the top five for goals, assists and points on the season, with Yingling leading all players with 70 points.

Tyler Kirkby (2+4), Tyler Ewen (1+4), Adam Dickson (2+2) and Marcus Klarich (2+0) led the Sea Spray offence with Cole Ishakawa, Gordie Phillips and Darrel Hunter scoring once apiece. Dickson was the game’s third star. Goaltender Lee Jackman finished with 45 saves as his team was outshot 61-39. Jackman also led the West Division with 412 saves on the season.

ALL West Semi-Final Round

All four teams now prepare for the semi-final round with the Sea Spray (8-6) facing the Black Fish (6-8) at 1:00pm while the Shooting Eagles (10-4) draw the Grizzlies (4-10) at 4:00pm. Both games are set for Sunday (March 26) at Langley Events Centre with the two winners facing off in the ALL West Finals on April 1 and 2 in a best-of-three series.

Shooting Eagles' Cole Catton (#18) keeps an eye on Sea Spray's Tyler Kirkby. Gary Ahuja LEC photo