Head coach Myles Brumpton called it a warrior’s effort.
Missing six regulars to injury and work commitments, the Vernon Re/Max Tigers visited the Kelowna Raiders Thursday night at Memorial Arena, falling 6-5 in a series-deciding Game 3 of their Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League semifinal.
The regular-season champion Raiders advance to the best-of-five league finals, and will host the winner of the Armstrong Shamrocks-Kamloops Venom semifinal for Game 1, Tuesday at Memorial. The Rocks hosted the Venom for Game 3 of their semi Saturday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“It was our game. We were up 2-0 (on goals by Riley Soleway and Cole Lawrie) right out of the gate,” said Brumpton.
“For the second game in a row, we really punished them. And once again, it was a great team effort.”
Tyler French, who plays with the BCHL Westside Warriors, answered for the Raiders with a deuce later in the first period to tie the game.
Kelowna cranked up the offence in the second frame, scoring three of four goals on clean breakaways. Ryan Phillips, Ryley McLennan, Shawn Hochhausen and Evan Helgesen all found the net for the hosts.
Braden Barr and Connor Payne replied for Vernon.
“They started to figure out our wheel and we didn’t adjust,” said Brumpton.
Speedy Jay Seaton pulled Vernon within a goal in the third frame, but Kelowna keeper Tanner Belsham (35 saves) shut the door after that. Josh point recorded 29 stops for the Cats.
“Josh Point played an outstanding game. He figured their shooters out very quickly,” said Brumpton.
The Tigers will lose five veterans to graduation – Mitch Steele, Brennan Plante, Joey Klein, Soleway and Darren Kirby.
“I thank the veterans for their leadership and guidance. It it going to help us bring forward a strong work ethic and solid foundation to build on.
“As much as it hurts to lose those guys, we’re going to have a dynamite team next year with the seasoning our rookies had this year.”