The New Westminster Salmonbellies are one win away from a spot in the B.C. Junior Lacrosse League playoff final.
The junior A Salmonbellies looked ready to take on the league's best following a 17-9 victory over the Delta Islanders at Queen's Park Arena on Monday. The win gave the Fishmen a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five semifinal playoff against the Ladner club.
"In terms of today, I think this is the most complete game as a team we've played since I got here," said second-year Salmonbellie Reagan Harding. "You can see the camaraderie coming out. Everyone's buying in. We have a motto and it's 'All in'."
That motto was carried out to the fullest in the second game of the series following a 14-13 overtime win in Delta on Saturday.
Nine Salmonbellie players collected three points or more in the win, including Harding and intermediate callup Chase McIntyre, who both garnered hat tricks in similar five-point outings.
Keegan Bal also contributed five points to the win, including a pair of back-to-back tallies midway through the second period that effectively put the home team in charge of the game.
Luke Gillespie also garnered a hat trick from the left side.
"That's what happens when you're relaxed. It carried over from the last game," said Harding, who scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in Ladner on Monday in a five-goal, eight-point showcase. "We just got to keep playing 'Bellies' lacrosse - hard nose."
Kyle Dobbie and Justin Goodwin chipped in with four and three assists, respectively.
Becker, Brandon Goodwin and Reid Mydske, with his second goal on just three shots on goal in the playoffs, also had three-point nights for the junior 'Bellies.
New West got out to an early 5-1 lead following a pair of goals by lefthander Josh Becker.
Delta flirted with a rally into the middle frame, but Bal's pair, including New West's first of two shorthanded goals in the match, sparked a four-goal Salmonbellie rally that put the home team in a comfortable six-goal lead.
Starting keeper Frankie Scigliano had none of the firstgame jitters he exhibited in the opening semifinal, looking solid with a 35-save effort.
Game 3 of the junior semifinal is back in Ladner today (Wednesday), beginning at 8 p.m.
Harding, who learned his lacrosse in Saskatoon, has been on fire in the playoffs to date, averaging more than six points per outing and leading all front-line attackmen with a nearly 36-plus per cent scoring average.
The final-year junior currently leads all playoff scorers with a post season-best 14 goals and 13 assists, eight points better than Bal, who boasts a playoff-high 14 helpers.
"It's my last year of junior lacrosse. I don't want to lose," Harding said, referring to last season's close series loss against Coquitlam. "In the playoffs, there is a different feeling about it. It's just something, I don't want to let the team down. I want to do it for the guys I'll be graduating with and for the other guys."
The junior Adanacs could wrap up the other semifinal against the Langley Thunder tonight (Wednesday) in Coquitlam.