COQUITLAM - Deadlocked at two games each, the Coquitlam Adanacs and Victoria Shamrocks have reduced their semifinal Western Lacrosse Association battle to a best-of-three.
Victoria has turned the tables on the underdog Adanacs over the past two games, tying up the series with back-to-back wins.
With Sunday's 11-8 overtime decision in Coquitlam, where the visiting Shamrocks counted the last five goals of the game, Victoria regains home floor advantage beginning with Tuesday's test on the Island.
The Shamrocks entered the semifinal as the No. 2 team in the WLA; Coquitlam finished third but just two points behind Victoria.
Game 6 goes Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. at the Poirier Sport Centre.
"As the playoffs go the pressure just mounts, but it's a great experience," notes Coquitlam coach Bob Salt. "Especially for our younger players, who are learning so much. Now it's the veterans turn to come through."
A day after Sunday's overtime setback, which saw the Adanacs take a 6-3 lead midway through the game only to witness a decisive push in the third, the team's braintrust still couldn't believe how it happened.
"One-point-nine - that's all that was left," sighed general manager Randy Delmonico of the final play of the third period. That's when Port Coquitlam native and late-season Victoria pickup Derek Lowe popped in the tying goal to trigger overtime.
With the Shamrock netminder on the bench, the visitors picked up a loose ball along the boards and proceeded to get the ball to Lowe, who stood undetected at the crease.
Coquitlam's defence, meanwhile, had began to retreat to the bench under the impression that an Adanac player had gained the loose ball.
"Our guys left our end thinking we had the ball," recalled Salt. "The only thing you could call it was a mental lapse by everybody_ You just shake it off and go on."
The Shamrocks then proceeded to carry that momentum into the 10-minute extra session, scoring three unanswered goals - including a pair by Corey Small.
Scoring two goals apiece in a losing cause were Dane Dobbie and Jason Jones, while Nick Rose kicked out 46 shots.
On Friday, Victoria had a strong edge in play and never trailed after opening the scoring just three minutes into the game. The Adanacs kept it close until early in the third, when the home side cashed in four times to create a solid lead.
The game featured a host of penalties, but Coquitlam failed to capitalize on any of its seven chances, while Victoria converted three times on six powerplays. The game also saw each team lose a player for Game 4 due to suspension -Andrew McBride was suspended for throwing back a water bottle that came from the spectator's gallery, while Chet Koneczny was suspended for a slash delivered after the game had ended.
Victoria also lost starting goaltender Matt Flindell midway through the third after Jones checked him outside the crease - a play that Coquitlam feels has been played up for the Island media.
"(Flindell) had the ball and was out of his crease, so Jones hit him. To me it looked like a simple crosscheck," said Delmonico.
On the play Jones was slapped with a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct.
Now the Adanacs are faced with winning another game in Bear Mountain Arena, where the last game ended with fans pelting the Coquitlam bench with a water bottle, along with the usual verbal abuse.
"I expect a charged atmosphere, but not to the level of last time," said Delmonico. "You'd expect better security there, but you never know."
If necessary, Game 7 will take the teams back to Victoria on Sunday.
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