For the first five minutes Wednesday night, the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Tigers looked liked they were well on their way to a third-straight Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League victory.
The Kamloops Venom, who gave up five goals to the Tigers in the first five minutes, and trailed 7-4 after the opening period, outscored Vernon 13-4 the rest of the way to record a 17-11 in Vernon’s regular season home finale at Kal Tire Place.
Jordan Bunce paced the Kamloops comeback, scoring six times for the first-time ever as a junior, with five of the goals coming in the middle frame when the Venom outscored the Tigers 7-2 to take an 11-9 lead.
After Jake Pelletier gave Vernon a 9-7 lead at 11:53 of of the second period, the Venom scored the next 10 goals before Kaden Doughty, with his fourth of the night at 14:15 of the third, stopped the bleeding for the Tigers.
Doughty, with a pair, and Brett Olsen with three, staked the Tigers to a 5-2 lead after just 4:58 of action in the opening period.
Drew Bannister collected a goal and six assists for Kamloops while Chris Finden, Callum Gorman (four assists) and Nathan Fraser each scored twice. Ethan Milobar made 33 saves and added a pair of assists for the Venom (9-2), who have clinched first place and receive a bye into the league’s best-of-five final.
Derek Pereboom made 46 saves for Vernon (3-8-1), who will play the South Okanagan Flames (4-6-1) in the best-of-three semifinals. Vernon closes out the regular season with games in Penticton and Kamloops, and need to win both and have the Flames drop their remaining three games to have home floor advantage.
Vernon scored its first win over the Flames this season Monday in Penticton, taking the game 9-6.
The Tigers led 4-0 after one on two goals from Olsen and singles from Stephane Richard and Jacob Brewer. The Flames cut the deficit to 5-4 after 40 minutes (Richard with Vernon’s goal) before the Tigers put the game away in the third with Richard adding two more and singles from Conor Webb and Doughty.