Shooting Eagles top Grizzlies, take over second spot

by Gary Ahuja

Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club goaltender Tristan Lomas makes one of his 35 saves as his team defeated the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club 13-10 on February 23 in Arena Lacrosse League West Division action at Langley Events Centre. Photos courtesy of Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre

The Arena Lacrosse League is all about opportunity. On Wednesday night, Tristan Lomas received his opportunity and made the most of it.

The goaltender last played a competitive game back in mid-August and has spent the past three months practicing with his Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club squad but not seeing any game action. And if there were any concerns about nerves or rust, it was hard to see as Lomas stopped 35 of 45 shots in his team’s 13-10 victory over the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club.

The game was played on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre to close week 11 action of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division. The victory ends a two-game slide for the Shooting Eagles and they pulled even with the Grizzlies at 5-6 with one game to play in the regular season. The Shooting Eagles currently hold the tiebreaker for the ALL West second seed as all five of their victories have come in regulation time while the Grizzlies needed sudden-death overtime to secure one of their wins.

“I know who I am, and I know my game. I have always had to fight for my chance and to be given this opportunity tonight, I think I really seized my moment and that is what I have done for my whole career,” he said.

“It has been a while, but I have been out with these guys every week and taking shots every time I can, has been really big for me. And my defence really stepped up, so I owe a lot to them.”

The Shooting Eagles offence came off the sticks of three players as Sam Clare had six goals and nine points, Declan Fitzpatrick had three goals and six points and Mark Yingling scored four times and set up another. Clare and Fitzpatrick were the game’s first two stars.

“We would like to see it spread a little bit more than that, but Jake (Foster) was snake-bitten – their goalie kind of had his number --- but Sam had a heck of a game; anything near the crease, he was picking up and putting in,” said Shooting Eagles coach Adam Smith.

“Yingling played one of his best games all year for us. He was going hard across the crease and doing what we are asking him to do and executing.”

Foster came into week 11 leading the ALL West with 28 goals and while he was held scoreless, he did manage a pair of assists as he continues to lead in points with 66 through 11 games.

Wednesday’s game saw the Shooting Eagles score 31 second in and never trail, building a 3-0 lead on route to the win. The Grizzlies did manage to twice get the deficit down to a pair of goals – once in the third quarter and again in the fourth – but no closer.

“It settles the whole team down and allows us to play our game and allows me to settle in and not worry and stress about every shot. It allows me to be confident and stay square and be ready for the next one,” Lomas said about playing with the lead.

For the Grizzlies, this was a fourth straight loss and fifth in the past six games.

“I thought we played better, got a few more goals. We are heading in the right direction,” said coach Rob Williams. “(But) lots of mistakes, lots of things that we had talked about; just guys trying to do too much. Guys are trying to pick off balls and go the other way, guys are trying to find shots that aren’t there; just the little things.”

James Baker (the game’s third star) had a hat trick for the Grizzlies while Andrew Gresham and Andrew Joseph both scored a pair and finished with three points. Erik Maas (who also had two assists), Brian Smith and Mitchell Nolet had a goal apiece. Brandon Humphrey made 39 saves as the Grizzlies were outshot 52-45.

The final week of ALL West Division action will be Monday, March 14 (Sea Spray vs. Grizzlies) and Tuesday, March 15 (Shooting Eagles vs. Black Fish) with both games beginning at 7:00pm. The teams will then play their semi-final games on March 20 before the ALL West Championship Series on March 26 and 27.