Vernon Tigers sniper Jake Pelletier beats Kamloops Venom goalie Matt Hans under the arm for one of his six Game 4 goals, but it wasn’t enough as the Venom edged the Tigers 13-12 Friday in Kamloops. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)

Venom edge Tigers in Game 3 thriller

Kamloops leads best-of-five final 2-1

Marty Hastings

Kamloops This Week

Folks at the Kamloops estatblishment, Noble Pig, may have seen deep-fried pickles shimmy across their vibrating table.

The ground-shaking roar from Memorial Arena on Friday night was that powerful.

“Oh, my god,” Kamloops Venom runner Riley Lawryk said. “I’ve never felt so excited. You can’t even describe it, a game winner in the playoffs.”

Lawryk scored with one minute and 33 seconds remaining in the third period to give Kamloops a 13-12 lead over the Vernon Tigers in Game 3 of the best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League final, sending the 400-or-so fans in attendance into a frenzy.

The goal held up to put the Tigers on life support heading into Game 4 in Vernon on Sunday (7:30 p.m. Kal Tire Place).

Tigers’ head coach Chris Scabar hadn’t quite gathered himself and was clearly trying to process the finish to the incredible playoff tilt when speaking to KTW.

“I’m kind of speechless,” he said. “The adrenaline … My team showed a lot of heart and guts tonight and I’m really proud of them even though we lost by one.

“They showed a lot of balls.”

That they did.

In the first two games of the series, the home team bolted out to an early lead and went on to win comfortably, the Venom 11-6 on Monday and the Tigers 12-2 on Wednesday.

The Snakes stuck to the script early on in Game 3.

Monty Chisholm’s hat trick and singles from Lawryk, Colton Boomer and Tylor Seabrooke had the Venom up 6-0 with one minute remaining in the first period.

Similarities to Games 1 and 2 ended there, with more plot twists and a jaw-dropping ending in store.

Jarod Reid tallied with 53.2 seconds remaining, Brett Olsen scored with 41.9 seconds on the clock and Jake Pelletier beat Kamloops netminder Matt Hans with 19.4 seconds left to cut the Venom’s lead to 6-3 heading into the first intermission.

“I wish I knew what happened,” Venom head coach Doug Clark said when asked about the late first-period collapse. “A few brain farts and the ball goes in and they’re right back in it.

“I really thought we had control of the game a few times and we managed to let them crawl back into it.”

Vernon’s impressive band of travelling fans included a spirited choir of shrieking females who found full voice when their team jolted back to life, snaring momentum that carried into the second period.

Pelletier scored two more goals inside the first three minutes of the second period and things were seemingly about to get worse for the Venom.

Indiscipline, which has cost Kamloops dearly in this series, reared its ugly head when Brady Georget took a double-minor for high-sticking Kolten Kirschner, who was mauled by three Kamloops players at the same time.

The Tigers’ terrific power play seemed primed to pounce, but the Venom’s captain had other ideas.

Riley Peterson muzzled out-of-town fans with one of his three second-period goals, two of which came short-handed.

“Those were huge,” Clark said of the timely markers. “He’s a very good leader and he is showing why he’s got the C on his jersey.”

The Venom captain’s third goal of the period pushed his team into a 9-5 lead, bringing to a boil the boisterous beer garden brimming with Kamloops Broncos baritones.

“HAU-CA! HAU-CA!” was the chant led by the local junior football team, taking aim at Vernon goaltender Darnell Hauca.

The Tigers still had some noise of their own to make.

Olsen corralled a pretty pass from Jordy Barr to finish off a back-door play and the Venom coughed up the ball in their own end a few minutes later, a turnover Conor Webb accepted and deposited 27 seconds before the second intermission.

The teams exchanged goals early in the third period, Boomer for Kamloops and Barr for Vernon, to make the score 10-8 in the Venom’s favour.

Georget then took another penalty. Scorekeepers informed officials it was his fifth penalty of the game, the maximum allowed, so he was ejected and sent to the dressing room.

It then came to light that it was only his fourth penalty, so he was chased down and told to hurry back to the floor.

The delay took about five minutes. Memorial Arena’s fast-developing party atmosphere received a shot in the arm when he hustled back into the penalty box, spurring laughter, cheering and jeering from the crowd.

Vernon ruined the mood with a pair of goals, markers from Pelletier and Thomas Landels that left the game tied 10-10 with 11:18 to play in the third period.

“It’s probably the best game I’ve been part of at Memorial Arena since I’ve been with the Venom,” Chisholm said. “Just back and forth all night.”

Derek Rockvam and Boomer replied quickly to lift Kamloops into a 12-10 lead with 10:06 remaining, goals that seemed like nails in Vernon’s coffin.

Again, the Tigers fought back.

Seabrooke took a five-minute major for high-sticking with 4:57 to play, another untimely penalty. Pelletier promptly notched a power-play goal to trim the Venom’s lead down to one goal.

“When the game is salting away, you don’t need to be in the box,” Clark said. “They have a very good power play and we keep on giving them opportunities.”

Ryan Wightman is integral in pushing the Venom up floor and relied on to distribute crisp passes.

He did both of those jobs well and had a commendable game on Friday, but had a brain-freeze moment late in the third period, a giveaway in front of his own net that led to the tying goal.

Pelletier’s sixth marker tied the game at 12-12 with 1:56 to play.

“We fought hard,” Pelletier said. “It was a back and forth game. We thought that was our game.

“We really wanted this win so we could win in our home barn. I guess we’ll just have to come back here and win it.”

Lawryk bailed out his downtrodden teammate with the goal of his life 23 seconds after Vernon tied the game.

“I’ve never lost it so hard after scoring a goal,” Lawryk said. “It was crazy.”

Vernon will be desperate to hold serve at home on Sunday, looking for a victory that would set up a winner-take-all Game 5 in Kamloops on Tuesday.

“We love the atmosphere here,” Scabar said. “We love it here. We can’t wait to come back.”