Armstrong Shamrocks' Steve Clark (left) fires a shot while Kelowna Raiders' Jordan Innes attempts to block the way in Game 2 of the Shaw Cup senior C men's  lacrosse championship series Monday night at Hassen Memorial Arena.

Armstrong Shamrocks' Steve Clark (left) fires a shot while Kelowna Raiders' Jordan Innes attempts to block the way in Game 2 of the Shaw Cup senior C men's lacrosse championship series Monday night at Hassen Memorial Arena.

Shamrocks keep Shaw hopes alive

The host Armstrong Shamrocks grounded the Kelowna Raiders 12-11 in overtime in Game 2 of the best-of-three Okanagan X-treme Lacrosse League Shaw Cup final Monday night at Hassen Memorial Arena. Game 3 goes tonight in Kelowna.

She needs some major cosmetic surgery and a little TLC, but old Hassen Arena is hardly considered a high-maintenance partner by the Armstrong Shamrocks.

The Irish have played some of their finest games in the hot tin-roof barn over the last two decades, and they relished their former home once again Monday night with a highly entertaining 12-11 overtime victory over the Kelowna Raiders.

Game 3 in the best-of-three Okanagan X-treme Lacrosse League Shaw Cup championship series goes tonight in Kelowna. Game 2 was played at Hassen since the ice is in at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

Classy Raider captain Kyle McLennan figured the venue jumpstarted the Rocks, who were stuffed 7-2 in the series opener Friday in Kelowna.

“The atmosphere was the difference,” said McLennan, one of the league’s premier playmakers. “They always come out hard when their fans are out. It gives them energy and they always put up a good fight. They’re a tough team. Their goalie (Chad Pieper) played great and it was hard to get it by him; he’s a big dude.”

With only so much air available, both teams found enough oxygen to put on a great offensive show with the stickwork and pace at a level not seen in the league for some years.

“They have some good talented guys and so do we,” said McLennan, who scored once. “It was a close game, it was a really good game, probably the best game of the year. We’ll just stick to our game Wednesday. They had the energy this time, but they won’t have their fans next game.”

The defending champion Raiders twice rallied to erase three-goal deficits, scoring the only three goals of the third period to force a 10-minute, non sudden-death overtime period before 250 fans.

Luke Bailey took a feed from McLennan and beat Pieper with a low shot with 51 seconds left in regulation. Bailey started the comeback at 11:43 of the period with a gorgeous behind-the-back goal after a pass by veteran Steve Plasko.

McLennan pulled the Raiders within one two minutes later on a great backdoor pass by Plasko. Kelowna goalie Bailey Cousins stoned junior B speedster Milan Marcetta in tight with 35 seconds to go in the senior C tilt.

The Raiders struck first in OT with Scott Renner converting from the left side after some slick passing by Bailey and McLennan.

Armstrong leading scorer Steven Clark, a Nanaimo Timbermen WLA draft, equalized shortly after when he juked and jived and buried his own behind-the-back beauty for his hat trick.

Dan Giger scored on a point shot with three minutes remaining for the winner. A scuffle ensued following the goal with the Raiders’ Travis Lee getting a fighting major for punching Giger as he lay in the fetal position. Marcetta was assessed a major for roughing.

The Shamrocks, known for being their own worst enemy with foolish penalties, walked away from confrontation for the most part.

“We only took a couple penalties late,” said Jarrett Medhurst, who pocketed 1+5 for the Shamrocks. “We were playing hard and aggressive, but we weren’t being cheap. We knew how important this game was and we didn’t want to blow it. A couple of times this year, we’ve been ahead and taken some bad penalties late in the game. We didn’t want to let that happen tonight.”

Rugged Raider veteran Jacob Illichman, who pulled the hat trick, was surprised at Armstrong’s focus on lacrosse.

“They played a lot better (than Game 1),” said Illichman, who swiped a loose ball and stunned Pieper with Kelowna’s first goal midway through the first. “They stayed away from the dirty stuff. They played a clean game tonight which was a big difference. We came for a war and it wasn’t.”

Ilichman expects the Raiders (7-5) to feel a little more comfortable in their own oven – Memorial Arena.

“We’re always better at home. We didn’t win too many on the road this year anyways. We’re OK with going back home to clinch. Wednesday, we’re going to come out with a little more fire. We came out slow. Every period we came out slow.”

Medhurst said the Shamrocks (6-6) played with more urgency and finally found a way to bury shots past Cousins.

“The goalies played pretty good,” said Medhurst. “There was lots of motion and lots of good opportunities. It wasn’t just shots from the outside. We were pretty happy with how our offence played for sure tonight. Both teams were pretty disciplined. Tempers started to flare a little bit in the end with the game pretty close.”

Logan Strohm and Medhurst have played together since they were 10, and they combined for a dozen points while flashing a pretty transition game.

“Our offence was firing,” said Strohm. “We were moving the ball around. We came out really flat-footed the first game and tonight, we made a big emphasis on moving the ball around and getting our feet moving and opening up the floor and it seemed to work for us.”

As for the magic between he and Medhurst, Strohm said: “I’ve played with him lots in my career growing up in minor so we kind of know where one another’s going to be so it’s fun playing with him. We don’t even have to look, you just throw the ball there.”

Brett Heitman, with his first of two goals, opened the offence 43 seconds in on a low offering from the left side. Clark then fired a rocket off the back glass and in off Cousins’ back for a 2-0 lead at 4:11. Brett Logan, who also scored twice, drew the assist.

Thomas Belanger rounded out the Shamrock scoring, while Lee and Pho Heng completed the Raider offence.

BOXLA CHATTER: Unofficial shot count was 63-59 Armstrong. Two of Pieper’s biggest stops came off Victor Wiens, one on a breakaway…Renner picked off a clearing pass by Shaun Koenig and quickly beat Pieper to tie it up 5-5 late in the second…Scott Appleton of Armstrong won the 50-50 jackpot of $240…Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald got in a first-minute scrap and finished with 37 saves as the Langley Thunder grounded the visiting Victoria Shamrocks 13-8 Monday night, sweeping their first-round senior A Western Lacrosse Association series 4-0. The former junior Re/Max Tiger MVP, a National Lacrosse League Philadelphia Wings’ draft, mixed it up with Victoria’s Brock Armour 36 seconds into Monday’s tilt at the Langley Events Centre. Alex Turner and Athan Iannucci each pulled hat tricks for the Thunder. MacDonald earned 50 saves in Langley’s 9-7 win Saturday night in Victoria. Turner and Patrick Saunders each scored twice. Langley went 3-for-4 on the powerplay.