Flush it and forget it.
That was the mentality of the Shooting Eagles following a disastrous Game 1 performance in the Arena Lacrosse League West Championship Finals series.
The Shooting Eagles fell 23-11 to the Sea Spray on Saturday in the opening game of the best-of-three series with the Sea Spray scoring 10 goals to the Shooting Eagles’ nine shots in the first 15 minutes.
“That is obviously not the start I wanted but you just have to forget what happened and come out the next day and just perform,” said Shooting Eagles goalie Brodie Harris. “Just come out and play like we know how to play. Obviously the first game we came out flat, we didn’t match the intensity of the Sea Spray. Today we just cleared our minds and played our game.”
In Game 2 on Sunday at Langley Events Centre, the Sea Spray led for much of the game with the Shooting Eagles taking their first lead early in the fourth quarter and winning 14-11, to set-up a 15-minute mini game to determine the 2023 champion.
Harris started and finished Game 1, allowing 13 goals on 37 shots in 36:15 of game time. By comparison, in the fourth quarter of Game 2 and then the 15-minute Game 3, he stopped 15 of the 17 shots over those 30 minutes. He finished with 35 saves on 46 shots in Game 2 and had a .782 save percentage in Games 2 and 3 combined.
And with the Shooting Eagles getting an improved performance in goal, the team was able to stay within a few goals of the Sea Spray.
“We have a confident group here. The only thing is when we play behind, we get low. When we get too low on ourselves, we don’t play well. But when we are high, we are really high and things just started rolling our way,” said Shooting Eagles captain Coady Adamson, who led the team with four goals in Game 2.
His third goal of the game came early in the fourth quarter and gave his team its first lead of the series.
“I wasn’t even looking at the scoreboard until there were probably three minutes left in the game. We were just telling the boys even keel through the whole season; don’t get too high, don’t get too low. That has been the whole motto throughout the season,” he said.
Spencer Bromley – who was named the 2023 ALL West Most Valuable Player – got the Shooting Eagles on the board 3:18 into Game 3, Mark Yingling doubled the lead 81 seconds later and Dylan McIntosh made it a three-goal game with 6:42 to play. The Sea Spray’s Keegan Bell – the ALL West Offensive Player of the Year – gave the Sea Spray some life with a power-play goal with 2:01 to play, but that would be as close as they could get, and Harris scored into the empty net with 37 seconds to play.
Shooting Eagles coach Adam Smith felt his team’s Game 1 performance was an oddity for his team, which finished first in the regular season at 10-4 and riding an eight-game win streak heading into the ALL West Finals.
“We started complacently, we played complacent, and they killed us, and that is something I haven’t been a part of for a long time. We talked about that is not us. Get back to what we do, stay out of the penalty box, play five-on-five. Play five minutes at a time, get back to the grassroots of what we started with,” he said.
The Eagles did struggle whenever they were short-handed as the Sea Spray went 7-for-9 with the man advantage in Game 2 and the lone Sea Spray goal in Game 3 also came on the power play.
Game 2 Recap
The Sea Spray jumped out to a 3-1 lead and were ahead 7-5 at the half. The Shooting Eagles cut the deficit to 10-9 with a quarter to play and then used a 5-1 fourth quarter to extend the series.
Adamson led the Shooting Eagles with four goals and six points while McIntosh had a hat trick and seven points and Dylan Lacroix also had a three-goal game. Yingling finished with two goals and two helpers and both Adam Noakes and Cal Slade each had a goal and an assist. Harris finished with 35 saves.
The Sea Spray were led by three goals and five assists from James Rahe and four goals and one assist from Bell. Marcus Klarich and Tyler Kirkby each had a goal and two helpers and Adam Dickson and Gordie Phillips both had a goal and one assist. Lee Jackman made 34 saves on 47 shots. He also made 10 saves on 13 shots in Game 3.
Adamson, Rahe and Harris were the game’s three stars.
— Story by Gary Ahuja