The Vernon Re/Max Tigers have until Monday to heal bodies and get their house in order for the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League playoffs.
They have home-floor advantage in a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the South Okanagan Flames of Penticton, starting with Game 1 Monday at Wesbild Centre.
Game 2 goes Wednesday, July 6 at Oliver Arena and, if necessary, Game 3 would be Thursday, July 7 at Civic Arena.
It is an all-Kamloops affair in the other quarterfinal, with the Venom facing Rattlers. Game 1 went Tuesday night, with Games 2 and 3 slated for Thursday and Monday, respectively.
The Cats ended the regular season Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the Venom at Wesbild.
Rookie netminder Tyler Landry, a Grade 9 VSS student, backstopped the Tigers with 48 saves for his first win in his second start (his other one was a tie).
“It says a lot about a young guy who can save a game for you. They fast-breaked us but he shut them down again and again,” said Tigers’ offensive coach Dave McWhirter, noting Landry stoned the Venom on half a dozen second-period breakaways.
Joey Klein potted the winner on a 3-on-1 defensive breakout, unleashing a bounce shot with two minutes to play to help Vernon finish at 6-8-1.
Scoreless at the midway point, the Venom (7-7-1) went ahead on goals by Gage Deacon and Ben Saklofsky. Braden Barr and Nolan Frame responded for the Tigers to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes.
Kamloops’ Chase McLeod and Vernon’s Mitch Steele traded goals in the third frame.
The Tigers were without veterans Craig Bigsby, Brett Hanna, Aaron Green and Riley Soleway, but Darren Kirby travelled from his job in Prince George to play his third game (players need to play three regular-season games to qualify for playoffs) and add some poise on the back end.
McWhirter says there is work to do with their preparation, but with the return of some key veterans, he is confident heading into the postseason.
“Second periods have killed us all year, but we get to wipe that all clean and start over. You get a whole new set of fresh opportunities,” he said.
“We’re not looking past South Okanagan, but we would love a chance to knock Kelowna (Raiders) off their perch.”