EXPRESS REPEAT AS VILL CHAMPIONS
For the approximate 250 fans that attended the Archie Browning Recreation Centre on Thursday night to watch the winner take all match between the Victoria Blazers and the Saanich Express; they were treated to 60 minutes of good lacrosse.
Rob Brown of the Blazers opened the scoring on the second shift of the game on a nice feed from Ryan Lewis to open the scoring for the visitors. Exactly one minute later, the Express' Parker Johnson was able to find twine after a nice pick and roll with Brody Pepper to tie the game. Fans were then treated to end to end action with the goaltenders Rob Wood (Blazers) and Darian Claxton (Express) stealing the show until just over the halfway point of the 1st period when Raj Allen and Tom Arsenault were able to solve Claxton to give the Blazers a 3-1 lead. Brennan Cullen was able to cut the deficit down to 1 on a nice individual effort with just over 5 minutes left in the frame but then the Blazers' Adam West-Patrick potted a bullet under Claxton's glove from a nice swing pass from Ryan Lewis to re-establish their two-goal lead. Two shifts later, Riley Condon of the Express was able to pick up a loose ball from the corner and found Guy Cullen on the left side where he sniped one low glove on Wood to cut the Blazer lead to just one. With under :30 seconds in the period, each team received off-setting penalties but the Blazers also took an uncharacteristic unsportsmanlike penalty and Guy Cullen took advantage of the power play opportunity and tied the game up with :10 seconds remaining in the first.
Both goaltenders were centre of attention for the next 5+ minutes making stop after stop, not wanting to give their opponent the mental advantage or give up that next tally. Raj Allen put the Blazers up by 1, just over that 5 minute mark and then both teams went back and forth in their chess match, not giving the other an easy lane to the net. Parker Johnson of the Express ties the game back up with just under 7 minutes left in the 2nd and both teams trade goals a minute apart a few shifts later (Nick Caris for the Blazers & Brody Pepper for the Express). The end of two periods proved the two teams were deadlocked and even.
The Blazers Ryan Lewis regained the lead for the visitors 1/4 of the way through the final frame but two possessions later, Guy Cullen of the Express tied it back up. The for the next 3 minutes, it was the Brennan Cullen show as he lifted the home Express on his shoulders potting two straight goals to give the Express their first lead of the game, at a crucial time. With time ticking away, Rhett Smith tallied a marker to bring the Blazers to within one (9-8). Brennan Cullen and Adam West-Patrick traded tallies for both teams to make the score10-9 but with just under 3 minutes left in the game, Parker Johnson and Guy Cullen sealed the deal. A last minute Blazer goal brings your VILL final score to the Express 12 & Blazers 10.