The Armstrong Shamrocks were desperate for a win, and they needed a third-period rally to secure it Friday night.
Trailing by two goals early in the final frame, the Rocks buried three unanswered, shorthanded goals to earn a 9-7 win over the host Kelowna Raiders in Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League play at Memorial Arena.
Netminder Chad Pieper helped spark the comeback with outlet passes for breakaway goals by Brett Heitman and Steve Clark. Jarrett Medhurst also converted on the short man, while captain Chad Pounder, with his hat trick goal, and Brent Anderson, scoring on another breakaway, put the game out of reach.
“It was a total team effort tonight,” said Pounder. “Everyone dug deep and I’m very proud of our team and our effort tonight.”
Armstrong, now 2-2, opened the game with a pair of early powerplay goals by Heitman and Pounder. The momentum was short lived as Devin Roger earned a double-major for high sticking and elbowing. An untimely illegal equipment minor gave the Raiders a 5-on-3, and Luke Bailey and Victor Wiens scored to equalize. Jacob Illichman connected again on the man advantage to put the Raiders ahead by one goal heading into the intermission.
More penalty trouble for Armstrong allowed the 3-2 Raiders to click twice more on the powerplay before Pounder recorded the game’s first even-strength goal. Clark scored again to make it 5-4 Kelowna heading into the third period.
Chris Phillips scored a beauty behind-the-back shot to give the Raiders a two-goal cushion before Armstrong mounted the comeback.
Said Armstrong head coach Glenn (Stumpy) Mitchell: “We had a lot to prove after our last two outings and the team responded in a positive way. It’s a great team-building win.”
Illichman finished with 2+2, Pho Heng set up five goals and Sean Blake assisted on three.
Pieper made 39 saves and added three assists. Kelowna took 64 penalty minutes (30 in misconducts) to Armstrong’s 35.
The Shamrocks visit the Kamloops Rattlers Wednesday night at Memorial Arena.
Meanwhile, the undermanned Vernon Tigers suffered a 21-9 loss to the Rattlers Friday night at Wesbild Centre.
With a couple injuries and Robbie Short serving the first of a two-game suspension, the 0-4 Cats went with just 13 runners. And with starter Ivor Sandaker away for the birth of his child, Brock Taylor took a turn in net.
Taylor hadn’t played net since minor lacrosse and only had one practice with the larger nets, so assistant coach/GM Lawrie Skolrood couldn’t fault him for his effort.
“That was really the story of it,” he said. “Especially with the big nets, he did really well. He works hard in every spot we put him.”
Kasmer Boudreaux was a force offensively for the Tigers, bagging a first-period hat trick and adding three more snipes and a pair of helpers. Brennan Plante, Kirk Krause and Kyle Wieldon completed the Vernon offence.
AJ Lockwood collected 5+7 for Kamloops.
Meanwhile, the Vernon Re/Max Tigers bowed 17-11 to an emotional Baby Shamrocks squad in Junior B action Friday at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Before the game, Armstrong held a moment of silence for teammate Cullen Rowan, who died last September in a workplace accident.
“They were pretty emotionally charged after that moment of silence for Cullen,” said Tigers’ head coach Myles Brumpton. “They came out fired up. You could just see their hearts swelling.
“Our hearts went out to the Rowan family as well as to the Armstrong organization. It was an honour to be a part of that game.”
Vernon seemed to weather Armstrong’s attack in the first period, trailing 5-3 at the break. But for the second straight game, they came unglued in the second frame, allowing five powerplay goals to trail 12-7 heading into the third period.
“Second period seems to be our Achilles heel right now,” said Brumpton. “That was the game right there. It was a 40-minute effort and the result is indicative of that.
“We’re not panicking. We saw way more positives than negatives. As a team, that’s what we need.”
The Cats got offence from Ryan Landels (3+3), Ryan Sarazin 2+1, Sean Connors (2), Craig Bigsby (1+3) and Midget call-up Liam Drabiuk (1+2).
Brett Hawrys (4+4) and Owen Barker (3+6) were once again the main threats for the Rocks, with Cole Seidel chipping in with 3+1.
The Tigers entertained the Kelowna Raiders Saturday night, while the Baby Rocks visited the Kamloops Venom.