The Vernon Tigers’ first win of the season came with a nice little piece of bonus hardware – the annual Challenge Cup.
Outshot 60-39 and outmanned 15-11, the Cats found a way to outlast the Armstrong Shamrocks 11-10 in their annual Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League derby Friday night at Wesbild Centre.
Rob Short led the 1-8 Tigers with a five-goal effort, and Andrew Hamilton, making a cameo appearance, chipped in with four strikes. They were backstopped by some superb netminding from Ivor Sandaker.
“This is the shortest bench we had all year and guys just stepped up and played,” said Vernon head coach Bryan Cope. “Every one of the guys played with heart last night. If that’s the only win we get this year, we’ll be OK with it.”
With Vernon up 2-0 early, Brennan Plante added to the lead on the powerplay after the 4-4 Rocks’ Steve Clark was assessed a double minor and a gross misconduct.
Short fired another before Dan Giger got Armstrong on the board. The Cats’ Tony Minchenkco and Rocks’ Kriss Yargeau swapped singles to make it 5-2 at the break.
Short extended the lead in the second period, but Armstrong came back on a pair of goals by Braydon Sanders. Singles by Short and Hamilton kept the hosts rolling.
Armstrong goalie Owen Siddall got his name on the scoresheet when he missed a long outlook pass, and somehow the ball took a strange bounce and fooled Sandaker. The Rocks’ Darren Kirby added another to make it 9-6 Vernon after two periods.
Fighting for their lives, the Shamrocks equalized on goals by Kirby, Shaun Koenig and Giger, but once again Short and Hamilton pushed Vernon ahead. Giger got one back for Armstrong, but a couple late penalties took some of the pressure off the weary Tigers.
“They were dying during the game,” said Cope. “I was on them pretty hard to keep them going. When you hit the wall, sometimes you just gotta go right through it.”
n A third consecutive win saw the Vernon Re/Max Tigers take over second place in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League Thursday night.
The Cats, now 5-5-1, withstood a third-period barrage by the host Kelowna Raiders, and hung on for a 9-7 win at Memorial Arena.
Vernon hosted the last-place South Okanagan Flames (3-8-1) Saturday night at Wesbild.
Vernon raced out to a 5-1 lead after the first period, pushing the gap to 8-2 after 40 minutes before getting outscored 5-1 by the 4-7-1 Raiders in the third frame.
“The team played a very aggressive and controlled game for the first 40 minutes,” said Tigers’ head coach Myles Brumpton.
In the third period, Kelowna tried to intimidate the Tigers and dictated the play for the first 10 minutes.
“The boys stayed composed and showed a lot of character in not bowing to Kelowna’s intensity, and matched Kelowna’s aggression by taking it to some of the of veteran Raiders,” added Brumpton.
Nolan Frame scored once in each period to lead the Tiger attack, with Ryan Landels (2+3), Jordan Orr (2G), Ryan Sarazin and Sam Oliver all getting on the scoresheet. Captain Brett Hanna and Liam McPhee each supplied two helpers.
Andrew McMillan and Iain Hart, each with a pair, were the main threats for Kelowna.
Brumpton praised netminder Joel Fruncillo for coming up with some key saves in the third period, noting he showed good poise when he got steamrolled by a Kelowna player late in the game.
The Tigers entertain the Raiders Wednesday at Wesbild.
Meanwhile, the Armstrong Shamrocks are slated to play a June 8 make-up game against the Flames Tuesday night (7:30) at Nor-Val Sports Centre.