Captain Marlon Forrest supplied 2+2 as the Armstrong Shamrocks upended the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Tigers 8-7 Tuesday night at Kal Tire Place.
Game 2 in the best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League semifinal series goes Thursday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong. The third game is Saturday night in Vernon.
It was the Shamrocks’ first win of any kind in Vernon since 2012 (won in regular season at KTP that year, plus one playoff win in Vernon, a series won by the Tigers). The Canadian dollar finished 2012 at .99 cents; Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye was Billboard’s top song.
Armstrong has won three of five meetings with Vernon this year, including both regular-season meetings at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Armstrong jumped out to a 2-0 lead despite being outshot 14-2 at the halfway point of the first period (goals came at 10:24 and a shorthanded marker at 15:51).
Vernon then scored the next five goals in a 9:19 span over the first and second period to take a 5-2 lead. Shamrocks’ coach Jim Point called a timeout after the fifth Tigers’ goal, a beauty by Chase Wirth, who took a long breakaway pass from goalie Darnell Hauca but tripped going into the Shamrock zone. Wirth maintained possession of the ball, got up, shook off a check from Forrest, went in and beat Armstrong goalie Connor Senn over the left shoulder, igniting the crowd of close to 300.
The Shamrocks responded to Point’s message, scoring eight seconds after the timeout and levelled the score 5-5 before the end of the frame.
Point on the timeout: “I just asked them to settle down and stick with the plan on defence. Be focused, because they got a little bit rattled after they scored four in a row. I asked them to stay with their check and get back on their game, move the ball to the offence and let the offence work the 30 (shot clock), get a shot and go hard on the rebound. The quick goal after the timeout kept my guys together. And it probably was the turning point, yes.”
Seth Gordey, Nick Yadernuk and Hanley also rang up deuces for the third-place Shamrocks, who led 2-1 after one period. It was 5-5 after 40 minutes. Hanley produced the winner on a laser of an outside shot at 15:56, 56 seconds after Kolten Kirschner tied the game for Vernon.
Senn stopped Tigers sniper Jordy Barr on a clearcut breakaway with 1:10 left in regulation.
“I trired to go top right and he made a great save off me,” said Barr. “Their goalie played really well. They seem to play their best against us. We just need to keep up the momentum and not get down on ourselves, not get mad at one another. It’s up to us veterans to get everybody on line.”
The second-place Tigers got 3+2 from Jake Pelletier and 1+2 from Brett Olsen. Kyle Cuzzetto completed the offence. The Shamrocks took seven of 11 minor penalties. Vernon outshot Armstrong 47-42.
Point on the win in Vernon boosting his team’s confidence: “It seems like we’re always in the game this year – we had one blowout against Kamloops – but even when we played here, I think we were close. We weren’t really intimidated. We just needed to follow our plan on defence and let the offence do their thing. We knew we could beat them. We just had to stay focused.”