The Armstrong Shamrocks won their fifth consecutive Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League championship Sunday afternoon on their home floor, downing the Kelowna Raiders 7-2 in the Rowcliffe Cup playoff tournament finale at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Armstrong captain Steve Clark scored twice, including a powerplay marker after the Raiders tried a desperation play and requested a pad measurement on veteran Shamrocks goalie Chad Pieper. The 10-minute delay in the game proved futile as Pieper’s pads were completely legal and the Raiders were assessed a delay of game penalty.
“It was a desperation call as they saw we were missing our backup goalie (Connor Senn) and hoped they could remove Peeps from the game,” said Shamrocks head coach Ryan Nitchie, “It totally backfired on them as Chad knows the rules inside and out and plays the game straight up,”
Armstrong led 3-1 and 6-1 by periods, thanks to the stellar play of their defence, including Cam Nelson, playing with a torn ACL, teamming up with brother-in-law Carston Schlaak to harass and jackhammer the Raiders’ shooters. Defensive standout Jamie Cockerill helped the offence, finishing a two-on-one following a pass from Logan Strohm.
“I wouldn’t want to play against our defence,” said Clark. “This team loves to play together and loves to win and it was fantastic to get this win at home in front of our fans.”
Said Nitchie of the team’s fifth straight championship: “We earned this title as a complete team win this weekend. Our defen e was punishing and the offence took advantage of our opportunities. We used our depth to be relentless on both sides of the ball which really was the difference maker.”
With the win the Shamrocks become the longest running dynasty in recent TOSLL history since the league re-started in 1994.
After losing on opening night in the regular season at home to the Raiders, Armstrong never tasted defeat again in 2019.
They rattled off seven straight wins to finish atop the league at 7-1, and went 3-0 to conclude the year on a 10-game winning streak.
Armstrong beat Kelowna 7-5 to open the round-robin playoff tournament Friday. The Raiders responded by thumping the Vernon Tigers 12-1 Saturday afternoon. The Tigers rejoined the league this season after a six-year break.
Armstrong punched their, and Kelowna’s, ticket to the final Saturday night by downing Vernon 13-4, the third straight result with that identical score between the two storied rivals.
The Shamrocks will wrap up their season on Monday, Sept. 16, when they host Team Slovakia in an international friendly. The Slovaks are competing in Langley later in September at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.
The game will be played at the Hassen Arena, as the ice will be in at Nor-Val.
* The South Okanagan Flames are a win away from their first-ever Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League Championship, defeating the regular season champion Kamloops Venom 16-15 in double overtime in Kamloops, and 12-9 in Game 2 of the best-of-five final Sunday in Oliver.
Game 3 went Tuesday in Kamloops.