Two years ago, goalie Chad Pieper enjoyed a fantasy-like week trying out with the National Lacrosse League Philadelphia Wings.
Last year, Pieper and the Armstrong Shamrocks placed last in the Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League.
This year, Pieper and the Rocks are striving to get back to the penthouse with a lot of new faces in the lineup.
Armstrong opens the senior C season tonight in Kelowna against the Raiders at Memorial Arena. The Irish home opener is Saturday against the Kamloops Rattlers (7 p.m.) at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“We are very excited going into the year, we have been getting great turnouts at practice, we had a successful pre-season, and we are ready to roll,” said Pieper, who doubles as team GM.
“We have added three Armstrong Junior Shamrocks graduates: Cartson Schlaak, Sheldon Nelson, and Nathan Marcetta, and we have also added former Vernon Tigers Rob Rintoul, Tyler Plante and Gord Schnare. Kyle Fors and Clayton Schlaak are a couple of fresh rookies who have improved greatly in camp.”
The Rocks, coached by Glenn (Stumpy) Mitchell, return a solid core of veterans, including captain Chad Pounder and Steve Clark, who both have Western Lacrosse Association Senior A experience. Also back are Jarrett Medhurst, Brennan Plante, Kyle Versteeg, retired CFLer Devin (Big Country) Rodger, Shaun Koenig, and Kriss Yargeau.
Added Pieper: “We look to rebound from our last-place finish last year, and with the injection of young players, it has energized the veterans and we look to have a strong year.”
Each of the three teams will play a balanced 10-game schedule with the playoffs scheduled for July 14-31. The provincial championships follow.
Shamrock ticket prices at the door are $6 for adults and $4 for kids and seniors, $20 for a family pass, and all minor lacrosse kids get in free.
Season tickets, at $20, will also be available at the door. They include regular season and playoff home games.
The Junior Shamrocks host Kamloops Venom tonight in their home opener at 7:30 p.m. while the Vernon Tigers visit Kamloops Saturday night to jumpstart the Thompson Okanagan Junior League season.
Vernon will play its first seven games on the road (the Royal Bank Cup goes May 10-18) before their home opener, Saturday, May 31 against Armstrong at Kal Tire Place.
The Shamrocks will entertain Team USA in an exhibition tilt, Friday, June 6, in Armstrong.