The league’s top offence will duke it out with the league’s top defence in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League best-of-five finals.
The Vernon Tigers battled the Kamloops Venom in Game 1 Saturday night at Memorial Arena.
“We’ve known for a long time that this was going to be the series. Just because we are both through to provincials, doesn’t mean it is going to be a light series,” said Tigers’ captain Brett Hanna.
With Kal Tire Place hosting provincials, both teams have punched their ticket to the dance regardless of the outcome of this series. Kamloops will represent the Okanagan.
The Tigers went 1-2-1 against the Venom this year and were the only team to knock them off.
The Venom trio of snipers Brady Jorgensen, Riley Peterson and Kyle Pauwels dominated the league. Jorgensen scored an incomprehensible 66 goals and 103 points. Peterson was no slouch either, with 26 goals and 73 points and Pauwels sniped 32 goals and 64 points.
Jorgensen has a natural ability to find the back of the net. In the four games versus the Cats this spring, Jorgensen had 14 goals.
The Tigers are up to the challenge of cooling off the Venom. Their 85 goals against was a league-best. They are led by a veteran defensive core and a goaltender who is having a remarkable year.
“We have an understanding that we are playing for each other. It isn’t about who scores more points, it is all about winning,” said Hanna.
The Tigers’ defensive unit led by Bayne Bosquet and Hanna have been physical all year, forcing people away from the middle of the rink.
“They are gonna have to earn it against us. We are going to identify our checks early and not let them choose the match ups,” said Hanna. “It is just one more mind game we can use.”
Aaron Jensen was the top goalie with a .833 save percentage and a 4.525 goals against average.
“I’ll always keep an eye out for them on the floor and communicate with our defence lots so we know where they are,” said Jensen.
Added Hanna, “A.J. has a great mental game. He’s not the type that gets bothered when a few goals go in. It’s easy to play in front of him.”
The Cats captain is feeling confident about the series.
“I think we will take it in four at home next Friday night,” said Hanna.
Game two goes 7:30 p.m. Monday night at Kal Tire Place.