Delta Islander Eric Perera takes down Victoria Junior Shamrock Brody Eastwood at Bear Mountain Arena on Saturday (April 28). The Shamrocks won the home opener 10-4.

Jr. Shamrocks look to past for new strategy

Nine different goal scorers stake Victoria Shamocks to first win of the junior A lacrosse season

A reversion to the old days of lacrosse has the defence shooting and offence defending as the Victoria Shamrocks are going old school for the 2012 B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season (ages 18 to 21).

The Shamrocks jumped into first place with a perfect opening weekend, and downed the Delta Islanders 10-4 and Poco Saints 10-7.

Nine different players scored for the Shamrocks in the home-opener on Saturday against the Islanders. The variety of scorers is due to a retooling of the bench, said new Shamrocks head coach Larry Smeltzer.

“The system is a work in progress. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance with it, but have a long way to go before it’s perfected. It contributed to our first two wins, but so did a deep desire from our players to win.”

Basically, Smeltzer is moving away from the specialization of offence and defence, with all players taking on a transition role, and playing at both ends of the rink.

“Box lacrosse seems to have deteriorated into some form of the field game (forced) into the arena. Box players used to play offence and defence. Field isn’t a bad sport, but it belongs on the field, and not inside an arena.”

Smeltzer’s strategy is a response to the slower-moving but highly effective attack of the Coquitlam Adanacs and New Westminster Salmonbellies.

One of the changes is an increased ball-handling role by the goalies.

Cody Hagedorn made 43 saves on 47 shots on Saturday and on Sunday rookie goaltender Mike Berti made his debut, stopping 40 of 47 shots. Berti was added to the tandem in favour of last year’s goalie Cory Mayzes, who was cut, Smeltzer said.

“Hagedorn and Berti move the ball. That’s part of our system, they’re handling the ball much more and are the release person.”

It has led to breakaways and a faster counter-attack, he said.

“Fans saw more breakaways (by the Shamrocks) on Saturday than they have in years.”

The weekend was a different story for the Intermediate-A (16-18) Victoria Shamrocks, which lost 14-11 to the Coquitlam Adanacs on Saturday but won 10-4 over the expansion Maple Ridge Burrards on Sunday.

Jordan Cunningham led the Shamrocks with four goals and a helper on Saturday, while Darrin Wilson had a pair of goals and team captain Max Fredrickson picked up a goal and three assists. Cunningham netted a hat trick on Sunday.

This Saturday (May 5) at Bear Mountain Arena the Baby ’Rocks host the Salmonbellies at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Jr. ’Rocks at 5 p.m. vs. the defending B.C. champion Adanacs.

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