Cowichan’s Olin Webb defends the ball from a Nanaimo player during the Thunder’s 18-3 rout of the Timbermen at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan’s Olin Webb defends the ball from a Nanaimo player during the Thunder’s 18-3 rout of the Timbermen at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Junior B Thunder clinch first place

Cowichan routs Nanaimo for the fourth time this season

With a lopsided with over the Nanaimo Timbermen on Saturday, the Cowichan Valley Thunder clinched first place in the Pacific Northwest Lacrosse League Junior B Tier 2 standings.

The Thunder destroyed the T-Men 18-3 at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday to put themselves out of reach of the other four teams in the league.

The game was the fourth of the season between Cowichan and Nanaimo, and the Thunder have won them all, by an average of 15 goals. The T-Men have struggled for numbers this season, and had just 11 players available for Saturday’s tilt.

“Thankfully we don’t play them again this year,” Cowichan head coach Lorne Winship said. “We just get bad habits.”

Nanaimo actually scored the first and last goals of the opening period, but the Thunder potted eight goals in between. The T-Men swapped out their goalies after Cowichan made it 11-2 seven minutes into the middle frame. Tyson Black welcomed the replacement netminder to the game with a breakaway goal just 37 seconds later. The score was 12-3 after two periods, and it was all Cowichan in the third.

Black finished with five goals and four assists, Brayden Zunti scored six times, and Mat Jung had a goal and six helpers.

Brandon Corby added two goals, and Olin Webb, Brady Williams, Colin Winship and Kyle Page had singles. Colin Winship and goalie Kain Stewart had two assists apiece, while Corby, Webb, Devyn Zunti, Steve Robertson, Liam Clinging, Kurtis Smith and Rhys Mazurenko added one each.

The Thunder were coming off a 14-2 win over the Saanich Express last Wednesday, in a game they expected to be much closer.

“Realistically, we thought we’d be in a one-goal game,” coach Winship said. “They just didn’t show up.”

Saanich had a lot of powerplay chances, but that didn’t help at all as the Thunder scored six shorthanded goals to go with five of their own with the man advantage.

Black and Jung had identical numbers to those they would post against the T-Men a few days later: five goals and four assists, and a goal and six assists, respectively. Brayden Zunti scored three times, Colin Winship had a goal and three assists, Jacob Taylor had a goal and two helpers, and Hunter Hieta scored once. Webb had two assists, Smith had one, and Pollo Claxton added a pair to go with his outstanding performance in net.

On the Thursday before that (June 14), the Thunder played to a 10-10 draw with the Westshore Bears at the Q Centre in Colwood, only the second tie of the season for the undefeated Cowichan team.

Tied 4-4 after one period, the Thunder found themselves down 7-6 after two, and trailed 9-6 midway through the third before rallying to pull ahead. Cowichan nearly got the winner after calling a timeout with 5.5 seconds left in the game.

“The tie was actually satisfactory,” Lorne Winship said.

Brayden Zunti scored four goals and set up another, and Black added three goals and three assists. Corby and Webb each had one goal and one helper, and Lucas Nagel also scored. Jung finished with three assists, Williams had two, Taylor and Kyle and Mitch Page each had one, as did goalie Stewart.

The Thunder host the Express again on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The team is off until July 7 when they host Westshore. The final regular-season game is on July 8 on the road against the Campbell River Ravens.