The Ladner Pioneers pulled out a dramatic road win on Saturday night and they will need a few more of them to advance in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse League playoffs.
The Pioneers are trying to make a run towards their first WCLSA championship in five years without having another home date for the balance of the post-season.
Their best-of-three semi-final series against the Valley Rebels opened on Tuesday and continues tonight when they "host" game two at North Delta's Sungod Arena at 8 p.m. The move north is the impact of a decision made earlier this year by the Corporation of Delta to permanently move ice installation at the Ladner Leisure Centre up by two weeks.
It means Ladner based lacrosse teams are out of luck if their season goes beyond July 31. The Pioneers have typically played into early August, while the Junior "A" Islanders have advanced to the league finals for the first time in franchise history and also will have to play 'home games" out of Sungod.
"The guys are upset knowing they won't have their fan base with them for the rest of the playoffs," said Pioneers head coach Bob Taylor
"For the most part, the people who do come to our games have told us they don't want to travel to North Delta to watch us play. It's either a short drive or some people even walk to the game. They're not interested in making a long commute. We're going to basically be a road team."
Despite having no home floor advantage and being considered an underdog against an opponent that defeated Ladner in two of three regular season meetings, Taylor believes his team is capable of returning to the finals for the second straight year.
The Rebels finished second in the league standings with a 15-5 record, three points better than the Pioneers (13-6-0-1). The Abbotsford based squad features a number of players who were at one time part of the Ladner organization including goalie Matt Morehouse and runners Sean Kelley and Brian Poole who are among the top 15 in league scoring.
"It's going to be a tough series but we think we can do it," added Taylor. "The key for us is being healthy and having a full compliment of players. We have a couple of guys who we hope to have back this week."
The Rebels clinched second place with a convincing 16-8 win over Ladner three weeks ago, however, the locals had just 17 players available for the game.
Nathan Clare's hat trick goal in sudden death overtime gave Ladner the quarterfinal series win over Royal City. The teams were tied at 5-5 at the end of regulation and each scored once in the 10-minute overtime period, to set the stage for Clare's heroics. He finished the night with six points.
The Pioneers had opened the series two nights earlier with 9-5 win in Ladner.
The Rebels had their hands full with the seventh place North Shore Indians, needing a third and deciding game to advance.