Like most season openers, it featured plenty of holes, turnovers and sloppy play.
The Vernon Re/Max Tigers will take the two points, pick up the pace in practice and move forward in the Thompson-Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League.
Veteran Nolan Frame scored four times, including the winner on a hard, outside shot with two minutes remaining, as the Tigers outlasted the rookie-laden Armstrong Shamrocks 10-9 Saturday night at the Wesbild Centre.
The Shamrocks went into Memorial Arena for a Sunday matinee and pocketed a 3-3 draw with the defending champion Venom.
Vernon coach Myles Brumpton said his staff was impressed with the Tigers’ discipline as both clubs took just four minor penalties.
“It allows for less fatigued special teams players and provides a better overall flow to the game by getting everyone into their groove,” said Brumpton. “Dave (coach McWhirter) and I were very impressed with the composure that the entire team showed on the bench and on the floor as it was basically a one- goal or tied game from buzzer-to-buzzer.”
Craig Bigsby, with 1+3, Brennan Plante, with 1+2, Riley Soleway and captain Brett Hanna rounded out the Tigers’ scoring. Braden Barr earned three assists and Cranbrook product Joel Fruncillo went the distance in net.
“Offensively Nolan Frame had his stick dialed in and basically he had a hand in on the balance of our goals,” said Brumpton. “Defensively, Brett Hanna had a strong performance with a couple of end-to-end rushes that helped towards the overall outcome of the game. Hats off to Jake Soleway for just stepping away from two weeks of intense exams at UBC to stepping on the floor and being a defensive anchor for us.”
Armstrong captain Milan Marcetta opened the scoring in the first minute, burying a hard shot top corner. It was 4-2 after one.
The Shamrocks battled back in the second period with rookie sensation Brett Hawrys notching his first of five goals on the night, one a beauty as he lept over Fruncillo. It was 6-5 Cats after two.
Armstrong equalized on a flutterball by Hawrys late in the period before Frame’s winner.
“We played well for our first-ever league game, said Rocks’ head coach Pat Nelson. “There was a bit of nerves that played a factor but we settled down midway through the game and really gave them a great game.”
Joel Castle and Owen Barker also scored for Armstrong, who got two helpers each from Hawrys, Stephen Ringdal and Kai Boudreau.
In Kamloops, the game was a see-saw affair with spectacular goaltending and stellar, tight defence.
The Junior Rocks were down 2-0 after one period, but they came out flying in the second period and finally potted their first of the night on an inside shake-n-bake by Hawrys.
Ringdal scored his first of the year on an laser outside shot to tie it 2-2 going into the break. In the third period, the Shamrocks’ defence was superb and their shortman special teams and goalie Cole MacFarlane were awesome, stuffing the Venom potent powerplay. Rookie right hander Willy Hanley rolled out of his crease position on the powerplay and ripped a low shot for the equalizer.
“We really played our hearts out in that game and our defence was huge,” said Nelson. “The Venom are an older and more experienced team and we played them straight up all game. We had a load of chances to score but their goalie was hot, as was ours, and we really earned the tie, and to do it in back to back games against two of the tougher teams in the league, I was really proud of our team”
The Junior Rocks’ home opener is Thursday, 7 p.m., against the Kelowna Raiders at the Nor-Val Sports Centre. The Tigers entertain the South Okanagan Flames Saturday, 7:30, Wesbild.