Just when the Western Lacrosse Association playoff picture appeared darkest, a glimmer of light has appeared for the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
The senior A Salmonbellies kept their playoff hopes alive with a 12-7 victory over the visiting Nanaimo Timbermen at Queen's Park Arena on Thursday.
The win lifted the 'Bellies into a fourth-place tie with the Burnaby Lakers, a team that looked anything but playoff-ready following a 10-5 loss at home to the Coquitlam Adanacss on Friday.
At Queen's Park, New West kept the pressure on Nanaimo all night long, leading for much of the first two periods, marred only by a 34-second advantage by the T-Men in the opening period.
The Salmonbellies took charge in the final frame, opening up the game's first multi-goal lead in the first minute of the third period on a goal by Jeff Zywicki.
Less than five minutes later, third star Alex Gajic registered his second goal, and first of two, in the final period to send the 'Bellies into the lead for good.
Gajic and Corbyn Tao, with his second goal of the game, scored less than a minute apart at the 14-minute mark to put the win away for the New West club.
"We just came out with a lot of tenacity. We could see from the warmups, (Nanaimo) didn't want to be here," said Tao, the game's second star.
First star Ilija Gajic led the home team with five points, including a pair of first-period goals.
Tyler Richards was on form, stopping 40 shots in the New West cage.
The badly needed win, a two points that a week or two ago might have been challenged as too little, too late, might well be enough to secure the defending regular season champions a spot in the post season. But, it's still far from being a done deal.
The 'Bellies must win their last two games - a Thursday night at Queen's Park against the Coquitlam Adanacs and the league finale in Maple Ridge on the Sunday.
Coquitlam will not be an easy W for New West despite sporting a league-best 7-1 record at home. The Burrards also cannot be considered a gimmie after last week's 15-11 win in Victoria against the third-place Shamrocks.
But with Burnaby's lacklustre loss at home to the Adanacs on Friday, and the Lakers facing Langley and then Coquitlam again on the road this week, it leaves a narrow window of opportunity for the Salmonbellies should Nanaimo prevail against Burnaby tonight on the Island.
"We're just focussing on what we can do," said Tao. "The league's a lot tighter. We put ourselves into this position and we're going to work hard to get ourselves out of it."
The Salmonbellies host Coquitlam, unbeaten in its last five starts, at Queen's Park Arena on Thursday. Game time is 7:45 p.m.