UA-74833448-1 First WLA Championship – Sportswave.ca
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First WLA Championship

The Langley Thunder completed an impressive season in the Club’s history and showed the lacrosse world, they can win, when the “everyone counted them out”.

In doing so they soundly defeated the Salmonbellies in WLA action in a best of seven series in a game played at the Langley Event Centre (LEC) in front of slightly under 3,000 fans.

The win allows them to play against the winner of the Ontario series, which will be either Peterborough Lakers or the Brampton Excelsior’s.

At press time Brampton was leading the Major Lacrosse League finals 3 games to 2 and need only one win to advance as Eastern Champions.

The Mann Cup will be played at the LEC and the (confirmed) dates are September 7th-15th.

Langley’s Defense played extremely solid against a New Westminster Lacrosse club that had previously won three straight league titles dating back to 2009 as well as represented the WLA.

Plans were underway for them to grab their fourth straight title; but they were denied a younger, faster Langley squad who came back from a 2-1 series deficit.

Somehow they managed to win the last three games of the series to capture the first ever League title. Final score to take the win was 7-5.
The only goal of the opening period was scored by the Thunder’s Athan Iannucci just over two minutes in to give them a 1-0 lead beating Bellies tender Tyler Richards from long range.

The rest of the period remained scoreless as the Defense from both teams took over as well as some superb goalkeeping from both Langley’s Brodie McDonald and Bellies Tyler Richards. Shots over one period was 17-11 for New Westminster.

In the second period the Thunder scored three early goals to open a 4-0 lead. A short 52 seconds in the period Nick Bilic scored on a breakaway beating Richards low stick side.

Alex Turner made it 3-0 at 5:09 after taking a pass Susheski and Nick Bilic and momentum was all Langley’s. Kyle Belton made it a 4-0 game a short two minutes later being set up by Lincoln and Saunders before allowing the Bellies to get back into the game.

Rookie Brandon Goodwin and Corban Tao to cut the lead in half 28 seconds apart making it 4-2 providing some, but not much momentum for the Bellies.
The Thunder’s Andrew Potter restored the three goal lead 12 seconds after New West had cut into the Langley lead to make it 5-2.

The Bellies battled back on Brandon Goodwins second of the night to only trail by a pair of goals – again!

A late PP allowed the Thunder to score showing only 4 seconds left in the second period.

This was given credit to Athan Iannucci who got his second of the contest giving allowing Langley to take a 6-3 into the final period.
Shots over two periods were 33-30 for the Thunder.

New Westminster were down by a three goals and it was win or “take the rest of the season off” and played an extremely strong third period having Brandon Goodwin get his third of the game getting them within two goals making it a 6-4 game.

Iljia Gajic brought them to within one with six and half minutes left in the third (6-5) and that was as close as they would get. Langley’s Kerry Susheski scored a buzzer beater with one second left into a empty cage as Richards was pulled for the extra attacker, to no avail giving Langley the win.

The Thunder captured their first ever WLA Title. Final shots were 42-41 for Langley.

Brodie McDonald, Langley’s tender was named the game’s first star and also awarded the Playoff MVP. Game stars were Nenad Gajic of New Westminster and Athan Iannucci of Langley.

Congratulations to Langley on the win and also to New West for a great season.

Thanks to Bruce Nolte for his help in covering this event.