Junior B Thunder win playoff preview against Campbell River

Cowichan overcomes travel woes and slow start to prevail

The Cowichan Valley Thunder had little trouble beating the Campbell River Ravens in their last regular-season junior B lacrosse game on Sunday afternoon.

Getting there was another story.

The bus the Thunder had chartered for their road trip to Campbell River broke down before it was able to pick up the Cowichan players. The Cowichan Valley Capitals generously offered to loan their bus to the Thunder, but it was trapped behind other vehicles in its parking lot.

The lacrosse team ended up carpooling to Campbell River, only to get off to a slow start once they hit the floor.

Trailing 4-3 at the end of the first, Cowichan managed to take a 10-5 lead by the end of the second, and strolled to a 15-7 final score.

“We never looked back,” Cowichan head coach Lorne Winship said. “We got good goaltending and balanced scoring.”

Beyond being the final game of the regular season, Sunday’s game also served as a preview for the first round of the junior B Tier 2 playoffs, as the first-place Thunder and fourth-place Ravens will square off in the upcoming semifinals.

“We didn’t want to give them a whole lot of momentum going into next weekend,” Winship said.

Tyson Black, Braydon Zunti and Brandon Corby each scored hat tricks in Campbell River, with Black adding six assists and Zunti one. Colin Winship had a goal and three helpers, and Olin Webb, Jacob Taylor and midget call-up Devyn Zunti each recorded a goal and two assists. Steve Robertson and Wade Mason, another call-up from midget, had one goal apiece, and Kurt Smith and goalie Pollo Claxton each had one assist.

A day earlier, the Thunder didn’t have to worry about travelling as they played their final regular-season home game against the Westshore Bears, winning 19-14.

Cowichan was coming off what ended up being their only loss of the regular season, so it was important to return to form.

“Coming off the loss, we wanted to get back on track,” Winship said.

The offence was clicking, and the defence played better than Westshore’s goal total would suggest. What stood out the most for Winship was that his team took only five minor penalties in the game.

“Most importantly, we were disciplined,” the coach said. “That’s what we wanted to accomplish.”

Black led the way with five goals and four assists, and Brayden Zunti had three goals and four helpers. Corby added three goals and three assists, Colin Winship had three goals and two assists, Mason had two goals and one assist, and Taylor, Mitch Page and Kyle Page also scored. Smith, Webb and Robertson each had two assists, and Brady Williams, Parker Teufel and goalie Kain Stewart each had one.

Midget call-ups Mason, Devyn Zunti and Jeremy Benson played well in their weekend appearances, but the Thunder will get several regulars back from trips, injuries and suspensions for the first round of the playoffs, and will have an even stronger rioster than the Ravens faced on Sunday.

“Our lineup should be even better,” Winship said.

The first game will go this coming Saturday (July 14) at Kerry Park Arena, starting at 6 p.m. The teams will meet again in Campbell River the next day. The date of the third game, if necessary, has not been set yet. Westshore and Saanich will square off in the other best-of-three semifinal series.

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