With six wins in a row, the Cowichan Valley Thunder have shot up the standings in the Pacific Northwest Junior Lacrosse League.
The Thunder earned another two victories last week, and head coach Lorne Winship believes his team is close to achieving its potential.
“We’re starting to find our form,” Winship said. “Our defence has done very well lately, and despite some injuries on offence, we’re finding a way to win.”
At Kerry Park Arena last Tuesday, Cowichan battled to a 9-8 win over the Saanich Tigers, the second consecutive win for the Thunder over the league leaders after Saanich won the first three meetings.
“Beating a team that’s sort of a measuring stick shows we are doing extremely well,” Winship said.
Graham Winship struck for three goals and four assists, while Lucas Nagel scored twice and added a helper, and Brody Black had a goal and four assists. Tyson Black and Jacob Taylor had a goal and an assist apiece, Kyle Page scored once, Taylor Martin had three assists, and Dawson Webb added one helper.
Five call-ups from the midget A ranks — Webb, Brody Black, Brady Williams, Nathan Clark and Hunter Hieta — were summoned for the Tuesday game, and with their season coming to an end the next evening, Winship expects to call on them more often down the stretch.
“I really like to fill out the lineup with runners if we need them, and we will,” the coach said. “They’ve been helping us a lot.”
On Wednesday, the Thunder completed their season sweep of the Nanaimo Timbermen with a 15-1 drubbing.
Despite playing on their home turf, the T-Men were only able to muster 10 runners. The Thunder started backup goalie Kevin Smith in net, and in the third period put their offensive players on defence and vice versa. Winship also sent three of his stronger players — including Martin, who led the team with four goals on the night — to the showers with 10 minutes left.
“We want to be respectful of them and not run the score up,” Winship said, “But at the same time, we can’t stop playing lacrosse.”
With Nanaimo out of the way, the Thunder will face only the other strong teams in the league over their final three regular-season contests.
“We’ll have some good, competitive games against Saanich and Westshore to finish out,” Winship said.
Cowichan could still finish first in the league standings. The Thunder have nine wins and six losses for 18 points, two back of Saanich, although the Tigers have two games in hand.
The Thunder will visit the Westshore Bears on Thursday and The Tigers on Friday, then get an extended break prior to their July 5 regular-season finale at home against Westshore.
“Hopefully we will finish strong and keep rolling,” Winship said.