Valley Rebels head coach Ted Downey knows exactly what’s at stake this weekend, as his team braces for a massive home-and-home set against the Tri-City Bandits.
“If somebody wins both games, you can pretty much sew up first place,” Downey said, savouring the match-up between the top two teams in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association. “They won’t be able to catch you after this.”
Heading into the weekend, the Rebels boast the best record on the local senior B boxla circuit, at 12-3-0 for 24 points. The Bandits (11-3-1) are just one point back.
The Abbotsford squad will put its first-place status on the line on Friday, when they host Tri-City at MSA Arena. The two teams clash again on Saturday at the PoCo Rec Complex, and the Rebels wrap up a busy weekend with a Sunday road game against the Royal City Capitals at Queen’s Park Arena. All three games begin at 8 p.m.
The games are indoors, but Downey believes the hot weather outside could be a factor.
“PoCo is a small arena, and it can be a cooker even when it’s not that warm outside,” he noted. “If we’re going to have good, hot weather, it’ll put pressure on both teams Saturday night.”
Downey is a stickler for discipline. Asked what the Rebels needs to do to have success against the Bandits, the veteran bench boss said his squad needs to do a better job staying out of the penalty box. Thing is, they’re already the least-penalized team in the WCSLA at 23 minutes per game. But that’s still too many for Downey.
“We’re the lowest in the league, and that still bothers the pants off me,” he said. “We should be way lower than that. I could see many 10 or 15 minutes a game – that, to me, I would accept. But to still have 10 to 12 minors a game, that just bugs me, because some of the stuff is just stupid.”
The Rebels won both of their games last weekend, knocking off the Langley Warriors 10-7 at home on Friday and edging the Nanaimo Timbermen 9-8 on the road Saturday.
Sean Kelly had a big game against Langley, racking up five points (two goals, three assists), while Brian Poole (2g, 1a) and Shaun McRae (1g, 2a) had three points apiece. Matt Morehouse picked up the win between the pipes.
Against Nanaimo, Graham Wiedenhammer notched four points (1g, 3a) and Kelly had two key third-period goals, while Brandon Mulligan was terrific in net.