The Okanagan Masters brushed back the Po-Co Saints 8-4 Monday in the Grand Masters Division of the Canadian Masters Lacrosse Championships in Port Coquitlam.
Speedy tournament MVP Pat Nelson, an Armstrong product, relished the victory in the eight-team category.
“It was a total team effort; I had the whole team behind me – trying to catch up.”
Added 66-year-old former Armstrong Shamrock Lance McGregor, who played some tough minutes: “I’ve played a lot of lacrosse in my time, but never with a team so old and out of shape.”
The Okanagan Masters were awarded the 2016 Canadian Masters Championships.
The Masters opened with a 10-2 drubbing of the Prince George Stylers with Nelson potting three goals, including a nifty backhander. Defensive specialist-turned sniper Glenn (Stumpy) Mitchell blazed down the left wing and ripped a Stu Williamsonesque overhand shot bottom corner.
In Game 2, the Okanagan stopped the Saints 7-3 in the cavernous Langley Events Centre, where the National Lacrosse League turf seemed to energize FOGO (Face Off Get Off) special teams leader Ryan Nitchie, who had been snakebitten with several posts and belly shots.
Nitchie buried a quick one-timer stick pass from the teammate with the hardest wrist shot in Masters lacrosse, Jeff Hanley (sire to the family of talented Junior Hanleys of Armstrong).
Seattle import Devin (Wolverine) Last of Seattle used a Kevin Alexander-like deke, dodge and shoot move to rip a shot past the goaltender, who seemed stunned and dazed by the footwork and dazzling stick. However, all was for naught as the referee had blown his whistle about eight seconds previously.
In Game 3, the Okanagan contingent jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before tiring in a 3-3 draw with Kitimat.
Gord Roberts supplied the first Okanagan snipe before Nitchie was assessed a minor penalty after being savagely taken down with a crushing shoulder check to the solar plexus. Nitchie awoke from a brief slumber to take on the Kitimat giant and was escorted to the penalty box for unnecessary roughness.
With a 1-0 lead, Okanagan goaltender Tom Frame went to the floor with an apparent lower body injury. This was wretched news for the rolling Okanagan team as Frame was playing fabulously despite double-hip replacement surgery a few years ago.
Controversy erupted during stoppage time as Kitimat protested the use of a rival team’s net minder, however, Mike (the pseudo-commissioner) intervened and allowed the 50-year-old to step in for Frame.
Nelson pocketed two more on the power play but the normally resilient legs of the aged masters seemed to fail in the third period as sea-level air and humidity played a factor on their conditioning and they surrendered three goals.
Chad Pieper of the Shamrocks was in net for the Vancouver Coasters, winners of the Masters A title.