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Maple Ridge Burrards advance to WLA final
For the first time in 23 years, the Maple Ridge Burrards have advanced past the first round of the WLA playoffs.
The Burrards played out of Vancouver then.
The senior men’s lacrosse team moved to Maple Ridge in 1996, and had never won a playoff series here until Saturday.
The Burrards defeated the Burnaby Lakers 10-8 at home to win the series in six games and will now face the Victoria Shamrocks for the league championship and a berth in the Mann Cup – the national finals.
Maple Ridge led 3-2 after the first period Saturday on three goals by Peyton Lupul, a junior affiliate player with the Burnaby Lakers who dressed for just his second game with the Burrards this season.
“We just asked him to chip in and play hard,” Burrards head coach Chris Gill said of Lupul. “We thought if he got a goal that would be good. He got three.”
Curtis Dickson, playing just his second game in a month due to injury, shook off more of the rust he showed in his first game back and recorded three goals and three assists for the Burrards, all six of his points coming after the first period.
“Expect more to come,” Gill said of Dickson, who led the league in scoring the previous season.
The Burrards led 7-5 after the second, then went up 10-6 early in the third on a power play goal by Dickson after a failed challenge by Burnaby on the legality of Maple Ridge rookie goaltender Frank Scigliano’s gear.
The Burrards did their best to kill time on the clock the rest of the way, prevailing 10-8 to the delight of 500 fans at Planet Ice.
“We’re not done yet,” said Gill, who as a player with the Burrards made the playoffs but never saw the second round.
“We’re not happy just being a first-round team.”
All season he has preached hard work and defense to his players, to use their size on the back end and be physical to wear teams down. Gill thinks they were successful at that against Burnaby, and it showed as tempers flared and bodies hit the cement throughout the series.
“It was a pretty intense first round.”
In the WLA final, the Burrards will face the Victoria Shamrocks, starting Wednesday on Vancouver Island. The Burrards, who went 0-2-1 against Victoria during the regular season, host Game 2 of the series at Planet Ice on Friday, 6 p.m.
Gill said Victoria is a highly skilled team with a disciplined back end and great coaching. The Burrards, he added, will need to play clean and minimize mistakes to have a shot at winning the league championship and advance to the Mann Cup.
The Burrards have done so 14 times since forming in 1937, the last time in 1990. They last won the national championship in 1977.
• Fourth period: Ben McIntosh had two goals and two assists for Maple Ridge in Game 6. Riley Loewen had a goal and three assists. Brandon Bertoia added a goal and two assists, while Mike Mallory collected three helpers. Scigliano made 29 saves for the win.
Scigliano was named WLA rookie of the year last week, while Gill was selected coach of the year.
Gill led the Burrards to a 9-8-1 record and third place in his first season as head coach.
Scigliano led the league with a 6.65 goals against average and .838 save percentage, while going 6-6-1.