Raiders drop Shamrocks

The Armstrong Shamrocks needed a comeback to advance to the Shaw Cup final. They were on the wrong end of one to lose it.

The Armstrong Shamrocks needed a comeback to advance to the Shaw Cup final. They were on the wrong end of one to lose it.

Up by four goals in the second period, the Rocks ultimately fell 9-6 to the regular-season champion Kelowna Raiders in Game 3 of the Okanagan X-treme Lacrosse League championship series in a leaky Memorial Arena Wednesday night.

“It was a good series. We wish the result would have been different, but I am proud of the way our team battled throughout the season and the playoffs,” said player/coach Chad Pounder.

With a slight delay to start the game due to a power outage and a punctured roof caused by a massive thunderstorm, both teams came out a bit tentative. Armstrong opened the scoring halfway through the opening frame on an outside screen shot by sniper Steve Clark. The Rocks added to their lead with a nice shorthanded solo effort by Logan Strohm.

The Raiders’ Braden Renner completed the first-period scoring on a pick-and-roll.

The Shamrocks, boosted by an estimated 100-strong cheering section, surged ahead in the second frame on quick singles by Clark, Brett Heitman and junior call-up Cullen Rowan to go up 5-1.

This seemed to awaken the Raiders, who then took over the game. Victor Wiens, on a breakaway, followed by a single from Luke Bailey and two more from Kyle MacLennan (2+3) evened the score at 5-5 with five minutes to go in the period.

The Raiders took the lead before the intermission when an errant pass hit a stick and deflected right into the Armstrong net.

Play had to be stopped several times throughout the game to mop up water from the roof.

Bailey, who added two helpers, struck twice more for his hat trick in the third frame, with Joe Brown potting an insurance marker. Strohm had Armstrong’s lone goal in the period.

“Kelowna’s defence held the Shamrock’s big guns, Logan Strohm and Steve Clark, to two goals apiece. Meanwhile, Kelowna rookie Luke Bailey dazzled the crowd with (three goals and two assists),” said Raiders’ general manager/president Jules Morris.

“Graham Cousins (31 saves) had another outstanding performance in net, stopping many Armstrong fastbreaks all evening.”

Kelowna veteran Pho Heng recorded five assists.

“The last two games really showed the fans great lacrosse. The skill in this league keeps improving every year. We will lose a few guys next year, but the core of the team will be returning for the 2012 season,” said netminder Chad Pieper, who recorded 37 saves.

Added Shamrock president Jeff Hanley: “We would like to thank our great fans and wonderful sponsors this year. Without them we would not be playing.”

As Shaw Cup champions, the Raiders are eligible to play in the B.C. Championship Treasure Cove Casino Cup (formerly Alcan Cup) in Prince George, but are unable to field a team due to time, money and work commitments. With the OXLL already having paid an entry fee, Pieper is assembling an inter-provincial senior C team with players from Armstrong, Calgary, Edmonton and Prince George.

Local players include Tim Rice, Steve Clark, Dan Giger and Brent Anderson.

“It should be a fun time,” said Pieper.