Cowichan’s Kevin Manahan puts the lumber to a Wsanec Arrows player during last Saturday’s 8-2 win for the Rats. (Paula Harris photo)

Cowichan’s Kevin Manahan puts the lumber to a Wsanec Arrows player during last Saturday’s 8-2 win for the Rats. (Paula Harris photo)

Rats split playoff games, still aiming for championship

Win next Tuesday will send Cowichan to VSLL final

The S&B General Contractors Cowichan Rats began their march through the playoffs with a win at home last Saturday, then suffered a setback in Esquimalt on Tuesday.

The Victoria Senior Lacrosse League playoffs follow a double-elimination format, so the Rats still have a chance to reach the final series, but find themselves in a must-win situation going into next week.

Last Saturday, in their final appearance at the Cowichan Arena this summer, the Rats defeated the Wsanec Arrows 8-2, jumping out to an early lead and cruising from there. Captain Dylan Dewarle, Kyle Kaltiainen, Conor Manahan and Luke Van Huizen each scored twice. Dewarle also had two assists, and Pete Vanden Dungen, who finished second in league scoring during the regular season with 16 goals and 15 assists in 10 games, had three helpers on the night.

The Cowichan defence held Emilio Garcia — the VSLL’s third-leading scorer this year — without a point, in large part due to the pesky play of Spencer Rooke. Kevin Smith made 12 stops in the Rats’ net as Cowichan limited Wsanec’s scoring chances.

Dewarle scored a hat trick in Tuesday night’s losing effort against the defending champion Victoria Blazers. The Rats struggled to shut down VSLL scoring champion Cody Boon, who had three goals and three assists, but the Blazers were less effective when Boon wasn’t on the floor.

Dan Alger and Neil Gailey had the other Cowichan goals on Tuesday.

The Rats will face the Arrows once more in Esquimalt next Tuesday for a chance to face the Blazers again in the best-of-three final that starts next Thursday.