Armstrong Shamrock Brett Hawrys (right) fends off Ryan Oliverius of the Vernon Tigers in 2012 TOJLL action at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

Armstrong Shamrock Brett Hawrys (right) fends off Ryan Oliverius of the Vernon Tigers in 2012 TOJLL action at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

Armstrong Shamrock tandem signs with Nanaimo Timbermen

Brett Hawrys and Owen Barker make the jump to Junior A lacrosse with Nanaimo Timbermen.

One has a broken hand, the other a dislocated thumb.

Yet neither Brett Hawrys nor Owen Barker has had a chance to nurse their injuries since they helped the North Okanagan Knights reach the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League final. The dual-sport athletes have switched right into lacrosse mode, signing cards with the Nanaimo Timbermen of the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League.

And if Hawrys and Barker are rated good at hockey, they are stellar boxla players.

Hawrys capped his second season in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League as its Most Valuable Player and top scorer. The Shamrocks’ captain collected a staggering 46 goals and 38 assists in just 13 games, to go along with a modest nine penalty minutes.

Barker brings an element of feistiness in his game, racking up 29-21-50 and 100 penalty minutes in 11 games with the Baby Rocks.

The two Armstrong natives have been a one-two punch since minor lacrosse, and so far that remains unchanged at Timbermen camp, which began Saturday.

“We’re expecting to be a big part of the team,” said Hawrys. “They’ve kept us together so we can keep our chemistry going. We’ve played together for so long, from Bantam all the way up. We know what the other is going to do.”

After a disappointing three-win season, Nanaimo cleaned house, trading their big guns at last season’s carding deadline and then bringing in Brad Dougan as head coach.

Dougan was an assistant with the Senior A Timbermen last season, and Barker said he is pushing the team at camp to instill a hard-working culture.

“It’s been good, but it’s been tough. He’s hard on the guys, but it’s a good attitude.

“The game’s faster in general. Faster ball movement and running, and better goalies. I’m really excited.”

Added Hawrys: It’s been really high tempo, compared to what we’re used to. We’re really excited to be part of the turnaround.

“It’s fun playing out there with guys who can pass the ball like we can. There’s not one guy who doesn’t have really good stick skills.”

The five TOJLL teams will get tuned up for the regular season at the annual Archie Jack Memorial Ice Breaker Tournament this weekend at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

The Shamrocks open play Saturday morning (9 a.m.) against the Vernon Source For Sports Tigers, and then face the South Okanagan Flames at 12:30 p.m.

The Cats face the defending champion Kamloops Venom at 2 p.m. In other Saturday action at Nor-Val, the Kelowna Raiders tangle with Kamloops at 10:30 a.m., and the Raiders and Flames go at it at 3:30 p.m.

Without Hawrys and Barker, the Baby Rocks will be missing a little firepower, but one luxury they do have is manpower.

Bryan Cope, who is taking over as head coach from Pat Nelson, has had full practices and said he shouldn’t have a problem using up his 25 available player cards.

“We’re going to be just fine,” said Cope, who struggled to field a competitive roster as coach of the Vernon Senior C Tigers last season. “We’ve got a lot of good athletes.

“They all seem keen and they listen well and they’re in good shape, for the most part.

“You’re going to see an old-school lacrosse team – up, down and off. Loose balls win games and that’s what it’s going to be.”

The Irish will be led by veterans Nathan Marcetta, Daniel Peterson, Conor Payne and the Nelson boys, Sheldon and Cam. Cole McFarland is returning as the No. 1 goalie.

With just one graduating player (Ryan Oliverius), the Tigers aim to field a competitive lineup, backed by the strong goaltending tandem of Crankbrook’s Joel Fruncillo and Trail’s Thomas Bella.

Said Tigers’ GM Rich Zecchel: “It’ll be much like last year – fast, skilled with pretty good dee.

“I like our experience, our size and our goaltending. We’re quite deep on offensive skill.”

Ryan Landels, who is considering the Junior A route, and Prince George’s Mike Quarin, a bruising attacker, are unlikely to return. However, the Cats will be boosted by returning captain Brett Hanna, Bayne Bosquet, who plays with the Simon Fraser Clansmen, and Ryan Sarazin, who will join the Marquette Golden Eagles on an NCAA Division 1 field scholarship this fall.

Promising newcomers include Liam Drabiuk, Mitchell Anderson and Brock Wagner.

Vernon visits Armstrong for both teams’ season opener on Saturday, April 27. The Cats host the Irish for their home opener a week later at Wesbild Centre.