The Armstrong Shamrocks will look to write a different ending as they take on the Kelowna Raiders in a rematch of last year’s Shaw Cup Senior C men’s lacrosse final.
The Raiders, winners of the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League regular-season pennant, snatched last year’s Cup with a third-period comeback win against the Rocks in Game 3.
Kelowna holds home-floor advantage in the best-of-three set, but can’t secure a booking at Memorial Arena until Monday night (7:30 p.m.). Game 2 is tentatively set for the same time Wednesday, July 18 at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Rocks advanced to this year’s final by sweeping the Kamloops Rattlers in a best-of-three semifinal, while the Raiders completed a sweep of the Vernon Tigers with a 16-11 win in Game 2 of their semifinal Saturday night in a muggy Wesbild Centre.
Despite rolling with just 10 runners, Vernon managed to create some offence, led by Robbie Short’s four goals and four assists. Brennan Plante added 3+1, captain Kirk Krause netted 2+5 and Andrew Hamilton and Amrit Dhoot each supplied a goal and an assist.
Gord Schnare and goalie Ivor Sandaker chipped in with helpers.
Kelowna captain Jacob Illichmann led the Raiders with a stellar three-goal, eight-assist showing. Junior call-up Scott Renner fired four goals, Joe Brown recorded 2+5, Pho Heng had 2+2 and Taylor Trotter had 2+1.
Luke Bailey added four assists in support of netminder Graham Cousins.
Armstrong and Kelowna split their regular-season series 2-2. Towering Shamrock keeper Chad Pieper says if his team can maintain discipline, they will have a shot at dethroning the champs.
“We handed Kelowna a couple losses early in the year, but we had a few setbacks during our season with player injuries and availability, but I think our team is playing it’s best lacrosse of the year,” said Pieper.
“If we want to win this year, we will have to play a lot more disciplined. Penalties will happen, but we cannot take the dumb ones that we are known to take.”
Pieper adds the animosity between the two clubs should make for an entertaining series.
“We don’t like them, and they don’t like us. I think this is the only thing both teams will agree on. This has been our biggest rivalry for the past few years and the games have been very intense.”
Junior Cats even series
After averaging one goal every two minutes over the first 40 minutes, just one goal was scored in the third period.
And it was a huge one for the Vernon Re/Max Tigers.
Braden Barr’s powerplay marker at 13:16 of the final period gave the Tigers an 11-10 win over the Armstrong Shamrocks Saturday at Nor-Val, evening the best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League semifinal at one game apiece.
Barr slipped his shot short side on netminder Cole McFarlane for the winner.
“Braden rifled the ball with true conviction,” said Tigers’ head coach Myles Brumpton. “It was a beautiful goal. It was signature Braden Barr.”
The first two periods were polar opposites, with Vernon jumping out to a 7-1 lead after 20 minutes, only to watch the Shamrocks outscore Vernon 9-3 in the middle frame to make it 10-10 heading into the third.
Ryan Landels jumpstarted the Vernon attack with a first-period hat trick; other offence came from Nolan Frame (2), Jordan Orr and Midget call-up Liam Drabiuk.
Owen Barker supplied Armstrong’s goal in the first period.
“It was seamless lacrosse for the first 20 minutes,” said Brumpton. “We had Armstrong on their heels.
“In the second period, the roles were reversed. A combination of the heat and the adrenaline put us on our heels in the second period. Armstrong came out flying and built up some momentum.”
Brett Hawrys fired three goals for the Baby Rocks in the second period, with Conor Payne, Joel Castle, Barker, Drew Hassard, Cam Nelson and Nathan Marcetta also getting on the scoresheet.
Said Shamrocks’ head coach Pat Nelson: “Our recovery from a rough first period was outstanding. We swung the momentum totally in our favour and the response was exceptional, it really shows what we can do as a team.
“We played two very good periods, the second was outstanding and we just couldn’t get a bounce in the third. Our team doesn’t roll over when we are down. We come together when we are down and that’s the sign of a good team.”
Drabiuk, with his second, Mike Quarin and Mason Limb connected for the Cats in the second frame.
“Third period was a chess match,” said Brumpton. “Both teams buckled down on defence and we just happened to capitalize on the powerplay.”
Tigers’ Midget call-up keeper Tyler Landry made a couple of breakaway saves in the final minute to preserve the win.
Game 3 went Tuesday night at the Wesbild Centre, and Game 4 goes Thursday night (all games 7:30) at Nor-Val. If necessary, Game 5 would go Saturday at Wesbild.
The winner will face the Kamloops Venom in the league final. Kamloops swept the South Okanagan Flames after the Flames forfeited Game 3 Saturday night.