They swapped stories, as they’ve done in gatherings past.
Heck, they even swapped jerseys for a photo op.
There were laughs and smiles a-plenty among 30 former members of the Armstrong Shamrocks and Vernon Tigers senior lacrosse teams, who met up at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong Friday for Alumni Night as the current teams played their Thompson Okanagan Senior League’s regular season finale in front of close to 300 fans.
The Shamrocks-Tigers rivalry is one of the oldest in the Okanagan, dating back 100 years and more, and has featured some epic battles through the decades.
Former Vernon Tiger Jock Worth was resplendent is his snug-but-still fitting original Vernon Luckies lacrosse jersey, yellow with red stripes on the sleeves and “Luckies” in blue across the front. The Luckies were a precursor to the Tigers. Worth was chuckling as he recalled what led to him and lifelong friend Lance McGregor to pick up the sport.
“Walter Patton owned a men’s clothing store on main street in Vernon, near the Okanagan Cafe, and he was giving out free sticks if you signed up,” said Worth, who played for the Luckies, Vernon Blues and Tigers, then continued on in Masters Division play with Vernon and Armstrong players.
His story was confirmed by McGregor, who went on to become a Shamrocks Hall of Famer, one of a handful to have his number retired to the rafters at Nor-Val. McGregor and fellow 1970s scoring sensation Bill Kirkland of the Vernon Tigers exchanged jerseys for a photo op.
On the floor, the alumni watched as the current Shamrocks won their seventh straight game, 13-4 over the Tigers.
Armstrong scored the first five goals of the game as they finished the year with a 7-1 mark and won both regular season games by a 13-4 margin over their storied rivals, who returned to the league in 2019 after a six-year hiatus.
Brett Hawrys had an eight-point night with four goals and four assists, while Logan Strohm (3+3) and Kyle Versteeg (six assists) had sic-point games.
Steve Clark scored twice for Armstrong, which enjoyed period leads of 5-1 and 10-3 to give rookie goalie Connor Senn the victory. Jorge Sam, Jamie Cockerill, Marlon Forrest and Jamie McGregor had singles.
Tigers captain Brennan Plante was in on all four Vernon goals, scoring once and setting up the other three, including a first-period marker by Jay Seaton, the Tigers’ first goal in nearly four full periods. Vernon was blanked 11-0 by the Kamloops Rattlers the week before in the team’s final home season contest. Tyler Plante and Craig Bigsby had the other Vernon goals, while Tigers goalie Josh Point faced a barrage of shots.
“We had a great crowd and a lot of lacrosse greats in the audience and you could see that motivated the guys to step up their game tonight,” said Armstrong captain Clark. “We achieved one of our goals which was to win the league title but we aren’t satisfied yet we want the (Rowcliffe) Cup.”
The Shamrocks, Tigers and Kelowna Raiders will play a three-team playoff tournament July 12-14 in Armstrong. The Rattlers, who finished off the regular season Friday at home by stunning the second-place Raiders 11-9, have opted not to take part due to a player shortage.
The round-robin event starts Friday, July 12, at 8 p.m. with the Shamrocks hosting Kelowna. The Tigers play twice on Saturday, July 13, vs Kelowna at 1 p.m. and against the Shamrocks at 8 p.m.
The top two teams will play for the Rowcliffe Cup Sunday, July 14, at 1 p.m.