The Armstrong Shamrocks leapfrogged the visiting Kelowna Raiders for second place in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League with a 9-8 win Wednesday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
After spotting the 4-4-1 Raiders a three-goal lead, the 4-3-2 Shamrocks responded with a powerplay marker on a low, five-hole shot by Cole Seidel. Scoring leading Brett Hawrys, on a hard screen shot, and Brayden Bridge, ripping a top-corner shot, made it 3-3 at the break.
Bolstered by five Midget call-ups from the North Okanagan and Shuswap minor associations, the Baby Rocks played solid defence in front on Trent Gabriel, and cranked up the offensive with five more goals in the second period. Carston Schlaak, Hawrys, defensive specialist Cam Nelson, with the first of two shorthanded goals, all found the net.
The Raiders mounted a steady attack in the third, but Gabriel stood tall with several key saves. The Shamrocks short man killed off a major to Brayden Bridge, and Nelson collected his second shorty for the winner.
“It was close all the way through, a very exciting game,” said Rocks’ head coach Pat Nelson. “We were coming off a couple losses, so it was good to get the win and build the confidence back up.”
Nelson credited Gabriel for backstopping the Rocks with a steady net performance. Gabriel, who played last season with the South Okanagan Flames, joined Armstrong after he was unable to secure a spot with the Coquitlam Junior A Adanacs, and the Flames had already secured their goaltending tandem.
“It was his first win with us so he was pretty pumped,” said Nelson, who also liked what he saw from the call-up crew.
“All five of them, it was their first time with us and they played well and helped is with the win. We’ve been bitten really hard by the injury bug as we have five or six players out with various injuries, so our veterans really need to step up and help out our younger players, and they did tonight.”
The Shamrocks visit the Vernon Re/Max Tigers for the first end of a Junior/Senior doubleheader Saturday night (6:30) at Wesbild Centre. The Senior clubs battle in the second tilt at 8 p.m.
Armstrong’s game tonight against the Flames was cancelled as most of the Flames’ players were attending graduation in Penticton.