Some of them chat on Facebook and act civil towards one another off the floor.
Come game time, however, the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Tigers and Kamloops Venom hack, whack and bodyslam one another every chance they get.
The two ultra-talented teams begin war-room strategies Saturday night as the Thompson-Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League best-of-five final series opens at Kal Tire Place (7:30).
The Tigers and the Venom have gone head-to-head in the last five finals. Each club has won twice in the four series leading up to 2016.
“It’s going to be a tough series. They really don’t want us to win, obviously. It’s going to be a good rivalry,” Venom coach/GM Brandon Pittman told Kamloops This Week.
“They’re a good lacrosse team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a season game or exhibition game or playoff game, when you play Vernon, everything is on the table.”
The series in 2015 had it all, from on the floor heroics to off-ice drama. Representatives from each team at times refused to speak to media.
Noise-makers were banned in Vernon after a raucous Kamloops contingent made the trip east. Controversy swirled over Kamloops’ use of players returning from higher levels of lacrosse. It all came to an end when a single goal in Game 5 determined the league champion.
Kamloops went on to finish fourth in the provincial junior B championship, a result the club would like to have the chance to improve on in 2016.
“There’s some personal issues and hate out there for sure,” said Tiger phenom Ryan Sarazin, who rang up 22 goals in a season cut short by an injury.
“The fact we are both good teams creates a natural rivalary. I would rather play a one-goal game every single than win by a bunch of goals. It makes for better lacrosse.”
The Tigers, who won the league title at 13-2-1, will pay special attention to superstars Riley Peterson (32+57) and Kyle Pauwels (23+47).
“We have some good defenders and Peterson and Pauwels are two players who can be shut down,” said Sarazin. “I can be shut down by the right player as well.”
Sarazin, who used to play NCAA field lacrosse for Marquette Golden Eagles in Milwaukee, says the Cats are ready for a long series.
“Hopefully it doesn’t go five games, but everyone’s healthy and we’re going to need everybody to win this series.”
The winner moves to the provincials, July 29-Aug. 1, in Coquitlam.
“We do not like each other on the floor – that’s an understatement,” said Riley Peterson.
“Game 1 is going to be really important to get. They have the home-court advantage, so we’re going to have to win a game on the road.
“We know in this series, it’s definitely bragging rights for the next year. We definitely have to win this series.”
BOXLA BANTER: Sarazin, 21, will play for the Coquitlam Junior B Adanacs in the national Founder’s Cup in Orangeville, Ont., starting Aug. 15. He hopes to play senior A next season…Jordy Barr fired 20-25 for the Cats, while Quinton Harrish had a team-high 30 assists…The Venom finished second at 11-5. Game 2 goes Sunday in Kamloops with the third game Tuesday in Vernon.