The Armstrong Shamrocks needed a win to secure home-floor advantage for the first round of the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League playoffs, and it took the full 60 minutes to get it.
Darren Kirby collected the shorthanded winner in the dying seconds as the Rocks brushed back the Kamloops Rattlers 10-9 at Nor-Val Sports Centre to secure second place in the four-team loop.
Armstrong, who finished at 7-5, opens the best-of-three Shaw Cup semifinal series against the 6-6 Rattlers Wednesday night (8:00) at Nor-Val.
Goals by Steve Clark and Braydon Sanders pegged the Rocks a 2-0 lead, but the Rattlers’ Nate Woldum went post-and-in on the powerplay to cut the lead to one before the intermission.
With Armstrong down a man to start the second period, goalie Chad Pieper sprung Junior call-up Brett Hawrys with a stretch pass, which he converted with an all-world fake and shot to increase the Shamrock lead.
Both teams then opened up on offence, with the Rattlers getting goals from Woldum, Russ McIntosh and Ethan Anderson, and Hawrys, call-up Owen Barker, Brett Heitman and Kirby responding for the hosts.
Kamloops took advantage of some undisciplined play by Armstrong in the third period, sniping man-advantage goals by Mark Jurista and McIntosh.
Jarrett Medhurst answered for Armstrong, but Kamloops kept coming, with McIntosh, Anderson and Liam Haggerty scoring to take a 9-8 lead with six minutes to play.
The Rocks equalized on Medhurst’s second of the night. The play went back and forth for the next few minutes, and with 1:16 to play, Sanders was assessed a slashing penalty.
Armstrong outshot Kamloops 52-43, and took 53 penalty minutes to the Rattlers’ 30.
In other Senior C men’s action Thursday night, the Kelowna Raiders hit the 10-win mark as they stopped the Vernon Tigers 16-11 at Wesbild Centre.
Kelowna (10-2) raced out to a 6-1 first-period lead and never looked back. Chris Phillips, who ended with five goals and three assists, and Taylor Trotter each collected a deuce in the first frame. Kyle Point had Vernon’s lone tally.
Brennan Plante, Kirk Krause, Robbie Short and Junior Tiger call-up Theo Wagner jumpstarted Vernon’s offence in the second period, but Doug Manning’s Raiders added seven goals in the period to take a 13-5 lead into the break.
Plante added a third-period hat trick, Ryan Minchenko supplied a pair and Krause a single to round out Vernon’s attack. Short chipped in with six helpers, Krause recorded five and Tony Minchenko had three.