Rebels survive Indians’ upset bid, advance to semifinals

On paper it looked like a mismatch, but the North Shore Indians proved to be a tough first-round playoff foe for the Valley Rebels.

The Valley Rebels were pushed to the limit by the North Shore Indians in the first round of the WCSLA playoffs.

The Valley Rebels were pushed to the limit by the North Shore Indians in the first round of the WCSLA playoffs.

On paper, it looked like a mismatch.

But in practice, the North Shore Indians proved to be a deceptively tough first-round playoff foe for the Valley Rebels.

The lowly Indians had mustered just three victories in 20 games during the West Coast Senior Lacrosse League regular season, while the Rebels (15-5-0) finished just one point out of first place.

Those trends held true in the opener of the best-of-three series last Wednesday, as the Abbotsford club blasted North Shore 18-8 at MSA Arena. But on Friday at North Van Rec Centre, the Indians stunned the Rebels 9-7, overcoming a five-point night (three goals, two assists) from Brian Poole.

The Rebels survived the upset bid, though, crushing the Indians 15-6 on Sunday to move on to the semifinals, where they’ll face the third-place Ladner Pioneers in another best-of-three set.

“We thought we had it in the bag,” Rebels coach Ted Downey said, reflecting on the Game 2 loss. “They came out guns firing, and our pop-guns, some of our guys forgot the cork.

“But our guys really understood what they had to do (in Game 3). They stayed out of the penalty box and kept to task.”

MSA Arena is no longer available to the Rebels, because ice is being installed in preparation for hockey season. They’re playing out of Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster for the balance of the campaign.

Game 1 vs. Ladner goes Tuesday at Queen’s Park, with Game 2 set for Sungod Arena in Delta on Wednesday. Both games start at 8 p.m.

While some coaches might be less than pleased to be evicted from their home arena, Downey is excited to call Queen’s Park home, albeit temporarily.

“It’s one of the cathedrals of lacrosse in Canada, or anywhere,” he said. “We’re lucky enough to play in it.”