Kyle McIntosh fully expected to relax while serving as caddy for veteran starting goalie Darnell Hauca Friday night at Kal Tire. Perhaps fill up his water bottle during a break and engage in small talk at the intermissions.
Instead, the 17-year-old Castlegar product pulled relief duty and jumpstarted the Tigers in a wild 20-12 win over the Westshore Bears of Victoria before 300 fans.
Jake Pelletier and Jordy Barr each pocketed four goals as the Tigers opened the four-team B.C. Junior B Lacrosse Championships. Conor Webb bagged a hat trick for the Tigers, while Steele Pelletier, Thomas Landels and Midget call-up Kyle Cuzzetto each supplied deuces.
Vernon, who carry sponsorship from Sun Valley Source For Sports, got singles from Kolten Kirschner, Brett Olsen and Logan Revell (shorthanded).
Hauca was pulled in favour of Kyle McIntosh with Vernon up 9-8 midway through the second period. McIntosh stopped a bullet by Ethan Hawes right away and shortly after, made a beauty breakaway save on Eric Beggs.
“I got the call to go put the pads on and went in there and saw we were down a goal and then we were down one more and then we tied it up and took off from there,” said McIntosh. “It was all a big blurr but it was a good feeling. When we were down, we started playing as a team and that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to keep the momentum going and hopefully have a good next game.”
Rylee Marsh, a dynamic forward with a 747 shot, pulled the hat trick for the 13-4-1 Vancouver Island champion Bears. He dove through the crease to baptise McIntosh. Marsh and Jake Pelletier took MVP honours.
“We got off to a slow start that’s for sure; wasn’t the first period we wanted but we stayed with them,” said Marsh, 21. “We were all over them in the second period and we were getting our shots. We got into penalty trouble and couldn’t get anything going and fell apart in the third.”
Marsh, who first handled a lacrosse stick at age three, led the Bears with 30 goals and 77 points in their banner season. He was impressed with the Tigers’ grit and moxy.
“They pressured us early and we kind of got intimidated early and we didn’t get the ball out of our zone early. They slowed us down offensively. Then, late, they didn’t go away. We thought they might because we were all over them, but no team here is going to shut down. Their conditioning was just better than ours tonight.”
Noah Holler, Chase Oickle and Chris Reid each rang up two snipes for the Bears, who got singles from Liam Gough, Ryan Kozun (shorthanded) and Hayden Ash.
The Tigers (12-4 and second in the Thompson Okanagan League) led 6-4 after 20 minutes and went in front by three just 47 seconds into the middle frame on a Barr goal. Westshore then took over and pumped in five unanswered tallies in seven minutes.
“We had some troubles keeping out of the box in the first period but we were all there and we knew we were a better team than them,” said Jake Pelletier, 17. “Penalties killed us but in the end we stayed out of the box and put the ball in the net to finish them off.”
Pelletier has full confidence in both his net detectives.
“Kyle’s a really good goalie and so is Darnell. He just had an off game and I’m sure he’ll come back strong.”
Westshore outshot Vernon 53-44. The Tigers take on the West Coast champion Coquitlam Adanacs Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Coquitlam parlayed 3+2 from game MVP Josh Kemp into a 13-5 opening victory over the Thompson Okanagan champion Kamloops Venom Friday afternoon.
Matt Smigel, with 3+1, Ryan Mobilio, with 2+2, Josh Goble, with 1+2, Andrew Miller, Cosmo Candelora, Lucas Shein and Brian Smith completed the Coquitlam offence. Chris Bosa earned four helpers, while Jeremy Basic counted three for the Adanacs (15-1).
Captain Riley Peterson scored twice for Kamloops, while singles went to Anthony Matusiak, Tylor Seabrooke and Nolan Virgo. Venom goalie Matt Hans was named MVP.
Kamloops tangles with Westshore Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
The gold-medal game goes Monday at 12:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the national Founders Cup in Saskatoon.
BOXLA BANTER: Landels netted the sickest snipe of the night. He took a feed from Reed Cashato just over centre, spun around Brandon Coulombe and cruised in to beat goalie Logan Senft…Thomas Mackiewich was assessed a major for unnecessary roughness after a scuffle with Hawes midway through the middle stanza, but the Bears took a minor during that penalty and failed to connect on the powerplay…Revell trickled a low shot through Senft’s legs for a breakaway shortie at 17:07 of the second…Steele Pelleteir clicked 60 seconds into a Westshore too many men penalty at 1:45 of the third, making it 12-11 Vernon. Webb upped the lead 19 seconds later and Landels converted shorthanded just 43 seconds later…The provincial champion moves on to the national Founders Cup, Aug. 14-20, in Saskatoon. The Orangeville Northmen of Ontario won the 2016 crown.