Brett Hawrys handles the ball for the Junior A Coquitlam Adanacs in the 2014 Minto Cup.

Brett Hawrys handles the ball for the Junior A Coquitlam Adanacs in the 2014 Minto Cup.

Tigers, Shamrocks ready to roll

The rookies will get a good shot to make a good impression with the Vernon Tigers.

The rookies will get a good shot to make a good impression.

So says Chris Scabar, the new head coach of the defending Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League champion, and provincial finalist, Vernon Tigers.

“I think we look really good,” said Scabar, 47, who served as a Tigers assistant under head coach and longtime friend Myles Brumpton the last two years. Brumpton stepped down to coach his son and Scabar’s boy in minor lacrosse.

“I’m confident with my experienced guys. We have a lot of midget guys that are looking really good. The rookies will play a lot in the early part of the season. I’m confident we’ll do well again.”

The Tigers, who fell to the Delta Islanders in the B.C. Junior B final at Kal Tire Place in August, have lost six players – Brett Hanna, Austin Lewarne, Bayne Bosquet, Connor Buick, Mack Leroux and Colton Harrish – from last year’s team that went 13-2-1 to finish second behind the Kamloops Venom in the TOJLL.

The Tigers, who beat the Venom in four games in the best-of-five final, welcome back their top four scorers from a year ago in Darrel Landels (32-28-60), Jordan Orr (23-36-59), Ryan Sarazin (23-18-41) and Quinton Harrish (25-11-36).

Vernon looks to be solid in net, as provincial all-star team goalie Aaron Jensen returns. Joining Jensen will be newcomer Jeremy Gray, a 6-foot-5 18-year-old from Coquitlam, and North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse alum Darnell Hauca.

Scabar, who has coached lacrosse at all levels, and won a 1998 Canadian Senior B title as a defender with his hometown Ladner Pioneers, expects the Tigers of 2015 to be like the Tigers of 2014.

“We’ll be a good transition team,” said Scabar, co-owner of a contracting company. “Lots of guys will play both forward and defence. We’ve always been known for a rock-hard solid defensive team. Our reputation stands by us. We like to pound, and we like to rock guys.”

Speaking of transition, there’s been changes for the Tigers’ nearest rival in the five-team TOJLL.

The Armstrong Shamrocks, who finished a distant third in 2014 at 6-10-0, have brought in some familiar names both with the coaching staff and on the floor.

Longtime senior Shamrock Ryan Nitchie is the team’s head coach, joined on the bench by current senior Irish MVP goalie Chad Pieper, and senior alumni Ryan Williamson and Jim Point.

“We are all passionate about developing players and are committed to winning,” said Nitchie, who works for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District in Salmon Arm.

“All of our coaching team bring a special set of skills to the table. We’re looking forward to working together to bring a championship attitude and results to the community.”

Returning to their hometown team are the dynamic duo of Owen Barker and Brett Hawrys.

The pair advanced from the junior program in 2012 to play with the Nanaimo Timbermen of the B.C. Junior A League, and both now bring a wealth of skill, leadership and knowledge back to Armstrong.

“Owen and Brett are game changers and they elevate the play of their teammates with their hard work and dynamic skill set,” said Nitchie.

Hawrys, an explosive lefthanded offensive talent, won a provincial title with the Coquitlam Adanacs last year after being conditionally traded by Nanaimo. The Adanacs lost the Minto Cup Canadian final at home to Ontario’s Six Nations Arrows.

Also returning to the Junior Shamrocks is Braden Hoggarth, who has spent the last few seasons playing Intermediate A with the Port Coquitlam Saints. Armstrong has also acquired former Victoria Junior Shamrock Tyson Fair, described by Nitchie as having “smooth stick skills and an outside shot that will complement the left-handed strength of the existing offensive unit.”

“We have a wealth of returning veterans who are 20-year-olds this season, which will be a huge advantage in a league that features players aged 17 to 21,” said Nitchie.

Armstrong hosts the annual Archie Jack Memorial Ice Breaker tournament Saturday at the Hassen Memorial Arena.

The Tigers and Shamrocks kick things off with a meeting at 10 a.m. Armstrong hosts Kamloops at 1:30 p.m., and Vernon tangles with the South Okanagan Flames of Penticton at 3 p.m.

The Kelowna Raiders round out the five-team league. Each team plays twice on Saturday.

 

 

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