The Cowichan Valley Thunder turned a major corner in the Pacific Northwest Junior Lacrosse League season when they defeated the Saanich Tigers 10-8 at Kerry Park Arena on Saturday.
Not only was it the Thunder’s first win over Saanich this season, it was the first time anyone had beaten the Tigers, the defending provincial champions who had only one loss last season as well.
“It was nice to beat them,” Cowichan head coach Lorne Winship said. “I thought the boys played quite well. We had very good goaltending, and our defence is coming together. We made them earn their goals.”
Pollo Claxton made 36 stops, including some remarkable acrobatic saves, to keep his team alive.
“I always think that defence is the most important,” Winship said. “If you can keep the other team from scoring, you’ll be in every game.”
The Thunder were missing a couple of key players, but midget call-ups Nathan Clark and Hunter Hieta stepped in seamlessly on defence.
The Thunder had come close to beating Saanich on previous occasions this season, including an 11-10 win for the Tigers at Kerry Park on May 17 and an 11-7 Saanich victory at Archie Browning Arena on May 27 that was even after the first period.
Tyson Black and Taylor Martin each scored three times and added one assist. Colin Winship had a goal and five helpers, and Graham Winship had a goal and three assists. Jacob Taylor added a goal and an assist, Lucas Nagel scored once, and Sean O’Neill had one helper.
The Thunder will try to extend their winning streak on Thursday when they visit the Westshore Bears, a team they have yet to beat this season. On Saturday, Cowichan is home to Nanaimo at 8 p.m. in their only game this season at the Island Savings Centre. The Thunder have beaten the Timbermen in all four meetings this year, outscoring Nanaimo 71-23.