There was yelling, cross-checking, taunting, back-checking, monster hits and a brief post-game scuffle in the parking lot – it was simply the Vernon Sun Valley Source for Sports Tigers and Armstrong Shamrocks renewing acquaintances Wednesday night at Kal Tire Place.
It started rough and ended even rougher with the Tigers winning 17-12 in Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League action.
“It was high-paced, lots of tension, very physical but a great time,” said Tigers’ forward Ryan Sarazin. “I’m pretty banged up after this one.”
Always a physical affair, this installment of the rivalry featured two of the league’s top offensive talents in Sarazin and Owen Barker of the Shamrocks (2-6).
Barker, who teamed up with fellow former Shamrock Brett Hawrys with the B.C. Junior A League Nanaimo Timbermen last season, entered Wednesday’s game third in league scoring. He was treated like he had a target stitched on his back where his number should be.
On opening shift, he was sprung on a breakaway, but Sarazin chased him down and slammed him into Tigers’ tender Aaron Jensen, drawing a double minor for back-checking.
“We are both out there playing hard and trying to do our jobs. I was just trying to make sure he didn’t get the first goal,” said Sarazin.
Barker assisted on the first powerplay marker and scored a solo effort on the back end of Sarazin’s double minor.
“Sarazin is a good player and you gotta answer for what he does out there and put the ball in the net,” said Barker, who finished with six goals and three assists as the second star.
After Barker’s three goals and Sarazin’s pair in the first, the one-on-one game tapered off the rest of the way.
“We didn’t want to play that type of game. We know he (Barker) is a great player but we had to make changes if we were going to come out on top,” said Tigers’ first-year head coach Chris Scabar.
With the Shamrocks up 7-6 after the first, the first-place Tigers (7-0) took control of the game while shorthanded.
With captain Braden Barr in the box for high sticking, the Tigers popped in two shorties from Quintin Harrish and Kyle Cuzzetto for the 10-9 lead nine minutes into the second.
The Cats outscored the Rocks 8-2 in the middle frame.
Jordan Orr poured in a monster second period for the Tigers with four goals. He finished with six goals and three assists as the first star.
Joel Castle scored one of his three goals in the second for the Shamrocks and credits his new stick for the big game.
“I worked on my twig at practice and the boys were giving me a hard time about it, so I had to come out and perform,” joked Castle.
Castle and Barker have been playing together longer than either can remember.
“He looks for me out there and I look for him,” said Castle. “We are comfortable and we know where each one is going to be.”
Shane Minnis, Keith Minnis and Sam Hanley added singles for the Irish.
Jordy Barr, assistant captain Jay Seaton and Thomas Landels each sniped one for the Cats, while Liam MacPhee and Sean Connors each registered six assists.
Jensen responded after a shaky opening frame, stopping 49 shots and earned four helpers.
Barker picked up a game misconduct with three minutes remaining after he got flattened from behind by Orr. Barker took a while to get to his feet and looked as if he wanted to stay in the game. With the score 17-12, players started yapping and the officals tossed Barker before anything unnecessary esclated.
“Emotions at that point take over and you say things you probably shouldn’t say. I didn’t think I deserved the penalty, but it is what it is,” said Barker.
The Shamrocks, who have lost three times by three goals or less, are looking to continue building as they host the South Okanagan Flames (4-4) tonight at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Tigers host the Kelowna Raiders (1-1-4) Saturday night at Kal Tire Place. The South Okanagan Flames are second at 4-4, while the Kamloops Venom are third at 3-2-1.