This is indeed a different era with different expectations for the Delta Junior "A" Islanders lacrosse club.
Making their first-ever appearance in the B.C. Junior "A" Lacrosse League finals, the Islanders are holding their own against the heavily favoured Coquitlam Adanacs. They were dominated in all three regular season meetings by the defending champions but this best-of-seven affair has been a much different.
After a 12-7 opening game loss, Delta has matched blow-for-blow with Coquitlam in the past three games and even have a 10-8 game two victory to show for it. The locals hung tough in an 8-7 road loss on Monday and overcame a three goal first period deficit Wednesday to take a third period lead, only to lose 7-6.
However, don't try convincing Shawn Springett he should be pleased with his team's performance thus far.
He delivered a paint-peeling post-game rant to his players following Wednesday's loss, challenging them to be better heading into last night's game five do-or-die scenario in Coquitlam.
The bar was raised three years ago by then GM/head coach Greg Rennie and Springett and his staff are pushing it even higher. Morale victories are no longer acceptable for a franchise that had been nothing more than an also-ran for much of its history.
"If we get beat because a better team beats us then I am alright with it. But I'm not putting them in the 'they are better than us' category," said Springett who was still trying to get his heart rate down after watching his squad squander a golden opportunity to even the series. "We can play with them, if not beat them and we're still not out of this."
"They are a very good team and I'm not trying to take anything away from them. I'm just disappointed in some of our veterans when the core of this team played their hearts out."
What had Springett steaming was his team overcoming a 3-0 first period deficit to twice take the lead in the final 20 minutes on a pair of goals by rookie Eli McLaughlin. His second of the night came midway through the third and Delta seemed poised for victory behind the stellar goaltending of Peter Dubenski.
However, a poor pass in the offensive zone and an ensuing penalty on the Adanacs' transition resulted in them pulling even on the power play. The winner came 65 seconds later from Wesley Berg.
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