The van is still running, but the check engine light came on for the Vernon Source for Sports Tigers following a 17-10 loss to the Kamloops Venom Sunday night at Memorial Arena.
The Venom hold a 2-0 series stranglehold in the best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League finals.
“Coming into the series, we thought we were going to walk all over them, so we are a bit on edge right now,” said Tigers’ road captain Darrell Landels.
Game 3 went 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Kal Tire Place.
The finals haven’t followed the same script as the regular season for the Cats. After rolling through the regular season and breezing past the Armstrong Shamrocks in the first round, the Tigers have hit a wall.
“We haven’t been playing the type of lacrosse that we were during the regular season,” said Tigers’ assistant coach Tyler Plante. “We haven’t been aggressive. We let Kamloops make all the moves and just react to them.”
The Tigers finished with the league’s second highest scoring offence, but has been held to 12 and 10 goals.
“It’s frustrating, but I still believe in them. If any team can do this, it’s these guys,” said Tigers’ head coach Chris Scabar.
Landels led the Tigers with four goals in Game 2 and added: “We just haven’t figured out how they are attacking us on defence. We are going to try and run some new plays and hopefully something works.”
Ethan Anderson supplied a hat trick, while Darrell’s brother, Thomas earned one goal, along with Quintin Harrish and Braden Barr.
The Venom’s regular season scoring leader Jerome Thorne was at it again with 5+4 in Game 2.
Snakes’ captain Blaine Boomer returned from the Langley Thunder in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League earlier in the year and supplied a hat trick.
“They’re a fiery team. They showed a lot of intensity and heart, but I think we’re just breaking them down mentally and physically,” said Boomer.
The Tigers cut the deficit to 10-7 in the third, but the Venom attack was too much to handle. They recorded a seven-goal third period.
Former New Westminster Salmonbellies Riley Peterson and Kyle Pauwels each bagged a pair of goals for the Snakes. The Venom have revamped their roster with the return of four Junior A players in the postseason.
“It’s kind of irritating having these guys come back with three games left in the regular season and for the playoffs. It really has changed their chances in the series,” said Landels.
Tyler Schlaak scored a pair, while Mike Van Unen, Colton Boomer and Dallas Grismer-Voght added singles. Mitch Horsman was solid in net.
The Tigers cruised through the regular season without any hiccups. Sometimes, experiencing adversity is a good thing, so teams can learn from their mistakes and figure out how to get back on top.
“It might have been good to lose a game along the way before this series,” said Scabar. “But when you get on a roll, you don’t want to get off.”
There are question marks surrounding the Tigers’ goal heading into the decisive Game 3. Their starter, Aaron Jensen, is dealing with a lower body injury and was pulled halfway through the second period in Game 2 for health and rest issues. Jeremy Gray took his place. Scabar was going to wait until warm-up Tuesday to decide his starting net detective.
A team has not been swept in the finals since the Kamloops Rattlers defeated the Kelowna Warriors in 2008.
Game 4, if required will be played at Memorial Arena Thursday, with game time set for 7:30 p.m.
The provincials are July 31-Aug. 2 at the Q Centre in Victoria.