Down to eight men, having lost the first two games by a combined 23 goals and facing elimination, the Armstrong Shamrocks could have mailed it in for Game 3 of their best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League semifinal.
Instead, the Shamrocks gutted out Saturday’s match with arch-rival Vernon Source For Sports Tigers, falling 7-5 at Kal Tire Place.
The win advances the Tigers to the league final against the Kamloops Venom.
“It feels good. It’s been a long season and a good process. We are really looking forward to the series with Kamloops and then provincials,” said Tigers’ coach Keith Hanna.
Ryan Sarazin continued his hot playoffs with a hat trick for the Tigers. Bayne Bosquet has scored a goal in each game, and Darrell Landels, Brett Hanna and Braden Barr also added singles.
The Shamrocks battled injuries all season but put up a strong fight against Vernon in the playoffs.
“I would like to wish the Vernon Tigers good luck in provincials. They are a very strong team and they play hard,” said Shamrocks’ head coach Brett Logan.
Pat Nelson was behind the bench for the Rocks and had a front row seat to watch his son Cam score four goals. Josh Point chipped in with a single.
“We played with a ton of heart and we left it all on the floor. That’s all I can ask from those guys,” said Pat Nelson. “I would say we finished the season on a high note, battling to the end like that.”
Game 1 of the final is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at Memorial Arena in Kamloops.
Vernon hosts Game 2 Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.
Both teams are through to provincials. Vernon is hosting the tournament on the August long weekend, and Kamloops will represent the Okanagan division.
“We didn’t throw a huge celebration. We went to Boston Pizza after the game like we normally do. We know there is hard work ahead,” said Hanna.
The Tigers finished two points behind the Venom in the regular season and were the only team to beat them. The Tigers went 2-1-1 against the Venom this season.
It is the classic offence versus defence scenario. The Tigers allowed a league-low 85 goals and were led by their goaltender Aaron Jensen, who carried a .883 save percentage and a 4.525 goals against average this season.
“They got great goal scoring, but I think our goaltending and defence is better,” said Hanna.
The Venom trio of Brady Jorgensen, Riley Peterson and Kyle Pauwels put the league on blast notice this year. Jorgensen scored an unfathomable 66 goals and 103 points. Peterson was no slouch either, with 26 goals and 73 points and Pauwels sniped 32 goals and 64 points.
“We gotta make sure our match ups are correct against them. It is going to be hard to shut them down,” said Hanna. “They’re going to score, we just can’t let them get five or six goals.”
Curtis Forrest won a mini fridge in a raffle during the game. The fridge was donated by Home Depot with the designs by Graphics Enterprises.
Former Junior Shamrock Brett Hawrys and the Coquitlam Adanacs have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five B.C. Junior Lacrosse League semifinal with the Victoria Shamrocks.
Hawrys had four assists in Saturday’s series opening 13-5 win at home, then picked up a helper Sunday in Game 2 in Victoria, an 11-5 Adanacs’ win.
Hawrys’ former teammate in Armstrong and Nanaimo, Owen Barker, finished with seven goals and 23 points for the Timbermen, who missed the playoffs at 8-12-1. Barker led the team in penalty minutes with 112.