Devils take two-game lead over Assault
Practice makes perfect.
The Westwood Pub Devils have been doing that since long before the Prince George Senior Lacrosse season began and are reaping the rewards in the playoffs.
They took a two-games-to-none stranglehold in the best-of-five championship series Thursday night at Kin 1, beating the Northland Nissan Assault 10-5.
The Devils have had strength in numbers all season and their dedication to working out game strategies in practices has paid off.
That extra work preparing for games shows in their passes and quick ball movement and a short-staffed Assault has had a tough time matching that level of cohesiveness in the final.
After getting smoked 21-6 in the series opener Tuesday the Assault was a much better team in Game 2 but they still aren’t on the same page as the Devils, who are now within one win of claiming their thirdstraight league championship.
Jake McIntosh continued to spark the Devils offensively, collecting three goals and two assists Thursday, matched by a three-goal, two-assist effort from Andrew Schwab and two goals apiece from Kyler Boucher and Dylan Long.
Doug Porter had a three-goal night for the Assault and PGSLA rookie of the year Riley Stevens scored twice.
Northland tried for a comeback with some extended power-play time early in the third period but could only reduce the deficit to 7-5.
Goals from McIntosh, Long and Schwab put the game out of reach.
Patrick Bayliss continued to impress in the Devils nets, after collecting the Ted Conway Award Tuesday as the league’s top goalie.
The Assault built up some power-play pressure early on him in the second period and Bayliss stood his ground with a couple of stellar saves just before Long took off on a shorthanded breakaway and scored over the shoulder of Assault goalie Kyle Frederich.
That gave the Devils a 6-3 lead. Northland cut the lead to two when Porter completed his first hat trick of the playoffs with the only goal of the second period on a quick setup pass from Dave Jenkins.
In the opening period, Schwab scored twice in the first minute, but the Assault got the next three.
Porter fired a pair and Stevens also found the net to give the Assault its first lead of the series.
Boucher answered Porter’s second goal less than a minute later and McIntosh pounded in two more in to restore the Devils’ lead heading into the first intermission.
The Devils can wrap up the best-of-five series with a win in Game 3 Monday night at Kin 1.
If the series is extended, Game 4 would be played Wednesday night, with Game 5, if needed, set for next Thursday.
Both teams were missing some of their big guns. Matt Rochon, who had 13 goals and a whopping 19 points in just three playoff games to lead the Assault, was out with a shoulder injury and sniper Clarke Anderson is also on the injury shelf.
Devils forward Colton Poulin was nursing a sore shoulder, while Westwood veterans Adam Moleski, Jeff Moleski, Danton Nicholson and Scott Anderson were also unavailable.
Nicholson and Anderson are in North Saanich this weekend coaching the Prince George bantam Posse in the provincial A2 championship. The Posse lost its opener Thursday 10-7 to Peninsula.