Devils pre­pare for a lacrosse As­sault

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

The way Matt Ro­chon has it fig­ured, if the North­land Nis­san As­sault can some­how pull the rug out from the feet of Westwood Pub Devils snipers Kyle McIn­stosh and An­drew Sch­wab, the As­sault will do the un­ex­pected and win the Prince George Se­nior Lacrosse As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pi­onship.

Fail­ing that, the best-of-five fi­nal series which start tonight (8 p.m.) at Kin 1 might be a rough ride for Ro­chon and his team­mates.

The 27-year-old Ro­chon was in the stands at Kin 1 last Thursday to watch McIntosh and Sch­wab fin­ish off the RPR Me­chan­i­cal/ JR Con­struc­tion Ban­dits in the third and de­cid­ing game of their best-of-three semi­fi­nal series. Sch­wab scored four goals him­self and McIn­stosh ended up with two goal and four points in a 10-6 vic­tory.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a good series,” said Ro­chon.

“We’re def­i­nitely the underdogs but I think if we bring a full team we’ll sur­prise a lot of peo­ple. It’s look­ing like we’re go­ing to have a full bench. We just need our num­bers and we should be fine.

“We went 3-1 with the Ban­dits this year so we fig­ure if they can beat (the Devils) we should be able to get a cou­ple games on them.”

Unlike the Ban­dits, who hung two losses on the Devils this sea­son, the As­sault has yet to fig­ure out how to stop the Westwood boys, who have re­lied on full-ros­ter turnouts for games and a sea­son-long will­ing­ness to work out the bugs in prac­tice to run roughshod over the rest of the league. Thursday’s play­off win im­proved the Devils record to 17-2 this sea­son. The As­sault strug­gled at times to get enough bod­ies and fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son 9-7, then swept Macken­zie in a two-game semi­fi­nal play­off series.

Led by Doug Porter’s 35-goal, 63-point con­tri­bu­tion, the As­sault scored 150 in 16 reg­u­lar sea­son games. Ro­chon was far off that pace, with 33 goals and 59 points in just 11 games.

Dave Jenk­ins Jr. has lost some the speed that a decade ago got him to se­nior A in the West­ern Lacrosse As­so­ci­a­tion but he still has the smarts to be a su­perb setup man and he can still fire ’em, to­tal­ing 22 goals 32 as­sists and 54 points in just nine reg­u­lar sea­son games. His long­time coun­ter­part Clarke An­der­son was limited by a leg in­jury to just four games but re­sponded with four goals and 14 points.

They’ll need to be fir­ing on tar­get to counter the ar­se­nal the Devils have at their dis­posal with the likes of An­drew Sch­wab, the PGSLA scor­ing cham­pion, Colton Poulin, Dan­ton Ni­chol­son and McIntosh, who lit it up with 10 goals and 15 points in three games lead­ing up to the play­offs.

“Jake McIntosh and An­drew Sch­wab are the two big­gest guys we have to worry about on the of­fen­sive side,” said Ro­chon.

Kyle Fred­er­ick and Rus­sill Mills pro­vide the As­sault ca­pa­ble goal­tend­ing and could steal the spot­light from Patrick Bayliss, the Devils’ new start­ing ball­stop­per, who has Jamie Bel­lamy to back him in net.

The Devils have won the league the past two sea­sons and are heavy favourites to com­plete their three­p­eat.

They need three more wins over the As­sault to ac­com­plish that and rep­re­sent the league in the se­nior C provin­cial cham­pi­onship, July 26-28 at Kin 1.

“They have great of­fence, they move the ball around re­ally well and they have big guys on de­fence who like to hit hard and after that series we’re go­ing to be sore so it’s go­ing to be tough go­ing into it,” said Sch­wab.

“It’s go­ing to be a tough bat­tle for sure. They don’t like to give the mid­dle of the floor up too eas­ily.

“But our D is, hands-down, the best in the league and I’m just glad I don’t have to play against them. Scotty An­der­son is the train that never stops, he gives ev­ery­thing to his team. Any loose ball he’s got it, he’s the strongest guy out there.”

While they’ve added some sig­nif­i­cant new pick­ups like McIntosh, Bayliss and de­fence­man Jeff Moleski, the core of the Devils has re­mained to­gether and ac­cord­ing to Sch­wab that’s what makes them a good team.

“This is pretty much the same team we’ve had for three years on th­ese cham­pi­onship runs,” said Sch­wab.

“Ev­ery­one re­lies on each other and trusts each other and you know where the other guy’s go­ing to be out there.”

Game 2 will be played Thursday night at Kin 1. The series re­sumes next week with games Mon­day and, if nec­es­sary, Wed­nes­day and Thursday.

CIT­I­ZEN FILE PHOTO

Westwood Pub Devils player Patrick Bayliss gets a shot on goal while fight­ing off the check of a North­land Nis­san As­sault defender dur­ing a reg­u­lar sea­son game in June at Kin 1.

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