One four-game suspension, one four-time champion and one franchise thirsty for a title, has all the makings for a dramatic Shaw Cup.
The Armstrong Shamrocks will try and knock off the four-time defending champion Kelowna Raiders in the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League finals.
The best-of-three series opens Wednesday night (7:30) at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Game 2 shifts to Memorial Arena in Kamloops Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, returns to Armstrong Saturday night.
The Shamrocks head into the playoffs as the top seed following the decision by TOSLL commissioner Elinor Hinds to strip the Raiders of their last four regular season wins after Evan Helgeson was ruled ineligible.
The Raiders have advised the league that they will not appeal.
“The decision from the league is certainly not the way we wanted to finish the season. Our team has been very cautious about all of our roster moves throughout the year and making sure that we are giving adequate notification to the league whenever moves are made,” said Shamrocks’ GM Chad Pieper.
The decision by the commissioner relegated the Raiders to third spot in the three-team league and would have set up a series with the second-place Kamloops Rattlers, who have withdrawn due to a shortage of players.
“We have a lot of history between our two teams in recent years. Having home floor advantage in our loud building will play to our strengths” said Pieper.
“We need to play with controlled emotion against these guys” said Shamrocks’ captain Chad Pounder. “They like to get under our skin with cheap shots and trash talk. We just need to rise above that and play lacrosse.”
Armstrong coach Pat Nelson, who had his number retired earlier this year, knows that support on the home front goes a long way in the three-game battle.
“The support we get from the fans is unreal and playing in Armstrong is unlike playing anywhere else,” said Nelson. “We need to fill our barn with loud fans to pump us up and create a difficult environment for the opposition to play in.”
The Shamrocks hope to catapult a successful Shaw Cup run into the senior C provincial invitational tournament goes Aug. 7-9 at the Nor-Val Sports Centre and Hassen Memorial Arena.
“We have a very special team this year, some are comparing it to the great teams of the ‘70s and the brand of lacrosse that we are showcasing is well worth watching,” said Shamrocks’ coach Ryan Nitchie.