The Burnaby Lakers will continue to fight to the bitter end in B.C. Junior Lacrosse League play, said one of its assistant captains.
"Nobody's quitting," said final year Burnaby righthander Jaxson Lee, who potted four goals in a five-point night for the junior A Lakers, including the team's last three goals, following a 13-9 loss to the New Westminster Salmonbellies at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Friday.
Playing without its leading scorer Jackson Decker, who was traded to Coquitlam on the trade deadline the day before, Burnaby gave the Salmonbellies matchup problems in the first two periods before surrendering the final frame to the second-place club.
Lakers goalie Patrick Bayliss turned in one of his best efforts of the season, facing 60 shots in the Burnaby goal, including 19 stops in the opening period.
Blake Mattinson, another Laker finishing up his junior A career in fine fashion, scored Burnaby's first two goals to help the home team to a 4-4 scoreline after the opening period.
Burnaby played New West even up in the middle period as well, finishing up 8-8 after 40 minutes of play, taking a brief lead after Jaeden Gastaldo's power-play goal and later two goals in less than two minutes by Lee to close out the period. Gastaldo finished the night with four points.
Tyler Digby led all scorers with four goals and two helpers for the Salmonbellies.
But New Westminster found its legs in the final frame, scoring five straight counters in a seven-minute span, before Lee finished off a desperation pass up the floor by David Beaumont to score shorthanded with just one tick left on the clock.
"After we heard about the trade with (Jackson) Decker, everyone's mood was kind of low," said Lee, who remembered last season, when a playoff-bound Burnaby team saw three of its key players traded to the Adanacs at the trade deadline.
This year, a playoff spot is still uncertain, and Lee says, not making the post season for the first time since 1994 is not something the team wants to see happen.
Couple that with talk around the league that the junior A Lakers are finished, and that has him and his teammates steaming, added Lee.
"We've got tons of heart and we want to prove everybody wrong. We'll go as far as we can go, whether it's the Minto Cup or the first round, we'll see," he said. "There's a lot of pride behind this team."
The Lakers lost 17-10 in Nanaimo on Sunday, leaving the team three games in the regular season in which to catch Langley for the final playoff spot.
Burnaby played in New Westminster on Tuesday (after NOW deadlines). The Lakers are in Coquitlam tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. before finishing up the season at the Copeland centre against the slumping Victoria Shamrocks on Sunday. Game time is 5 p.m.