Bayliss brothers close in on PGSLA title

Throughout their lives as brothers growing up in Vancouver, Patrick and Nolan Bayliss have played lacrosse at a high level.

Born six years apart, they both suited up for the Burnaby Lakers junior A team at different stages in their careers, but until they made the move to Prince George they'd never played on the same team together, and never have they won a championship.

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That long wait could be over as early as Monday night, when they Bayliss brothers get back in action for the Westwood Pub Devils in the Prince George Senior Lacrosse Association championship series against the Northland Nissan Assault. A Devils' win Game 3 of the best-of-five series Monday night (8 p.m.) at Kin 1 will complete the sweep, giving the Westwood its third straight PGSLA playoff title.

"It feels great, this is the first time I've ever been this close to a championship, we've got a good team here," said Patrick. "It's really fun playing with (Nolan). We call each other on a lot of things, it's a nice competitive edge between brothers. He plays really well defensively and he's quick. He's got a good breakout, and between me and him we make a lot of breakouts and that's (crucial) to get that ball down the floor."

Patrick, 28, rediscovered his ability to make saves as a lacrosse goalie when he joined the Devils this season, ending a six-year hiatus from Canada's national summer sport. After several years of playing junior A with Burnaby and the Langley Thunder, he got as far as a Western Lacrosse Association training camp with the Coquitlam Adanacs and he shows that senior A seasoning night after night playing for the Devils, who went 15-1 in the season and are 4-1 in the playoffs. The older Bayliss played in six regular season games this season and compiled a sparkling 4.13 goals-against average and .844 save percentage as winner of the Ted Conway Award that goes to the league's top goalie.

"We have such a good team and that's huge for winning that award, it's based off of save percentage and when I'm stopping shots I have to face from outside, it's a team award," he said.

Patrick played in all five playoff games and has the Devils in good position to take aim at winning the Fred Doig Memorial Cup that goes to the provincial senior C champions. That tournament will be played next weekend at Kin 1.

"Jamie (Devils manager/goalie Bellamy) and Scotty (Devils defenceman Anderson) said right at the beginning that we're going to take a shot at provincials so we focused on that," said Patrick. "We've got one more win in this league (to strive for) and then provincials, and hopefully we can make run there."

Nolan, 22, also joined the Devils this year and quickly became one of the Devils' go-to guys on offence, collecting 14 goals and 28 points in just 14 games. Sharing the floor with his older brother, he's maintained his point production in the playoffs with a goal and six assists in five games.

"We've never had the opportunity to play together and this year has been unreal, it's been a great time," said Nolan. "I wouldn't say I'm a goal scorer but I do my best.

"This is too good to be true, I've never been part of a successful team like this so it's going to taste even better. If we keep this group together we're going to be tough to beat. We're going to close it out on Monday, for sure."

Nolan works as a welder and Patrick is a heavy-duty mechanic and their trades experience led to job offers that convinced them to make the move to Prince George. Patrick has been in the city for 3 1/2 years and Nolan escaped the big-city rush and came to P.G. last year.

"It's been a good change of pace coming up here," said Nolan.

The Devils won Game 1 of the final 21-6 and were 10-5 winners over the Assault Thursday night. Assault forward Doug Porter, 21, scored three of his team's five goals in Game 2. The netminder Bayliss prevented him from scoring a fourth when he made him miss the net on a penalty shot in the third period, after the Devils were called for too many men.

Northland was without Matt Rochon and Clarke Anderson, two of their better offensive players, both out with injuries. Rochon admitted that while his team was much better in the second game, they were still overmatched by the Devils, who had more bodies and fresher legs and used that to their advantage.

"It really hurts missing those two guys, maybe give them the weekend and they'll be back," said Porter. "We're playing well with the guys we have but it comes down to a lack of bodies. I know we can play like them, it wasn't that much of a deficit.

"The last five minutes kind of got away from us and it just comes down to the guys wanting to show up and play. A few of us can only do so much when we're out there five minutes at a time. We just have to find that extra gear and try and get it done on Monday."

If the series does get extended beyond Monday's game, Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, with Game 5, if needed, on Thursday.

The Treasure Cove Casino Senior Invitational Tournament and senior C championship, July 26-28, will feature four teams - the Devils, Assault, Port Coquitlam Express and Wsanec Arrows of Victoria.

Anderson and his Devils teammate Danton Nicholson are in Saanich this weekend coaching the Prince George Posse in the A2 bantam provincial championship. After opening with a 10-7 loss Friday to Peninsula, the Posse evened its record to 1-1 with an epic third-period comeback on the way to a 12-11 overtime win over Ridge Meadows, the Lower Mainland champions.

Down 9-3 heading into the third period the Posse scored eight goals to take a one-goal lead. Ridge Meadows tied it with 20 seconds left to force overtime. Prince George lost its top player Dyan Illett, to a five-minute high-sticking penalty with one second left in the third period and the Posse was killing the penalty on the first possession in OT when Keaton Nicholson fired off a pass to Brady McKay, who fought off his check and scored the winner. The Posse, without Illett, who will serve a one-game suspension, will be back on the floor today at 9 a.m. to face Saanich.

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