Kevin Rothbauer Citizen
All the strengths and weaknesses of the junior B Cowichan Valley Thunder were on display over the team’s last two lacrosse games as the team lost 13-7 on the road against the Westshore Bears last Thursday, then crushed the Nanaimo Timbermen 24-3 at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday.
After having to rely on midget call-ups to fill out the lineup for their first few games, the Thunder finally had all their top players on hand to face Westshore, but the situation was the same for Westshore, and the Bears took advantage of Cowichan’s defensive hiccups to prevail.
“We just kind of got a bit dominated,” Cowichan head coach Lorne Winship said. “We’re getting players back, but so are these other teams. As we’re strengthening, so are they.”
The Bears led 6-3 after the first period and 10-4 after the second before the teams played an even third period with three goals apiece.
Graham Winship scored twice for the Thunder, while Tyson Black and Taylor Martin each had a goal and two assists. Jacob Taylor had a goal and an assist, Kyle Page and Colin Winship each scored once, and Jaeden Ashbee had two helpers. Pollo Claxton was saddled with the loss in net.
Cowichan’s explosive offence was on full display against Nanaimo two days later. The Thunder were up 13-2 after the first period, sending the game to running time. Winship cautioned, however, that such games don’t necessarily show how good a team is — or how bad the opposition is.
“They didn’t come with a very strong lineup,” he said. “It’s not indicative of where we’re at or where they’re at. A couple days before, they beat Westshore. You can’t look at scores and know where teams are; you have to look at rosters.”
Because players often have other commitments and lineups can be fluid from game to game, Winship says it is always a “work in progress” to keep a competitive team together.
Leading the way for Cowichan were Adam Golia with seven goals and three assists, and Graham Winship with four goals and five helpers. Claxton started the game in net, and call-up Colin Jeffrey played the last 15 minutes.
Coach Winship was away for the first three games of the season, but noticed when he returned that the Thunder’s “common denominator” in the first three games was a tendency to take too many penalties. He made an effort to crack down on that against the T-Men, and it seemed to work.
“Nanaimo got typically chippy, but I thought we held it in check,” he said.
Winship feels his team needs to improve at both ends of the floor, but that he has the personnel to field one of the top teams.
“I feel we can compete with all the teams,” he said. “We didn’t have a [junior] team last year; the last time we had one was two years ago. Overall, the league is a lot stronger than it was two years ago. We’ll get better and be competitive.”
The Thunder played host to the Saanich Tigers on Tuesday. They visit Saanich on Friday and host Westshore again next Tuesday.