Falling behind 3-0 after one period.
It was exactly the start the Armstrong Shamrocks wanted.
Playing their first game in nearly a month, the Shamrocks spotted the visiting Kelowna Raiders the three-goal first-period bulge, before shaking off the rest to outscore the opponents 9-3 over the final 40 minutes for a 9-6 win in Game 1 Wednesday of the best-of-three Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League’s Rowcliffe Cup final at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Shamrocks can clinch their second straight league championship tonight at 7:30 at the Kelowna Memorial Arena.
“I think we fired 14 shots in the first period, most of them right into the goalie’s chest so we knew we were going to have weather a first-period storm,” said Shamrocks coach Ryan Nitchie of his team’s 25-day layoff prior to Wednesday’s opener.
“Once we got our legs underneath us, we were fine.”
Nolan Frame rallied the Shamrocks in the second period, scoring two powerplay goals, sandwiched around diving across the crease to beat Raiders goalie Graham Cousins, for a natural hat trick to tie the game.
After the Raiders took a 4-3 lead, Armstrong responded with markers from Joel Castle, Craig Bigsby and a long, desperation, beat-the-shot-clock-strike from Brayden Sanders.
Armstrong led 6-5 after two.
The Raiders tied the game in the third, on Nick Evans’ third marker, before Armstrong’s defence took over at both ends.
The Shamrocks D held Kelowna to only two more shots the rest of the way, and defensive players Carston Schlaak – with the game winner – and Jamie Cockerill on an end-to-end rush, gave Armstrong a two-goal advantage.
Steve Clark added the final tally on a powerplay.
“Our defence took over the game in the third period,” said Nitchie. “They were physical and strong.”
Cousins finished with 38 saves while veteran Chad Pieper made 26 saves in goal for the Irish.
Game 3, if needed, would be played Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the old Hassen Memorial Arena.