The waiting game is over. It’s time to dance.
The Vernon Source for Sports Tigers take on the Kamloops Venom in Game 1 of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League finals tonight (7:30) at Kal Tire Place.
With 19 wins in the bank, the Tigers sit three wins away from the provincials.
“Our guys have ate and slept well all week and we are eager to get this thing going,” said Tigers’ coach Chris Scabar.
The Venom stopped the second-ranked South Okanagan Flames 13-7 in Game 5 at Memorial Arena in Kelowna. The Tigers swept their semifinal series with the Armstrong Shamrocks.
The Venom received reinforcements in the semis with the return of four players from the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League.
Kyle Pauwels and Riley Peterson played for the New Westminster Salmonbellies. Pauwels recorded five assists in three games and Peterson sniped three goals in three games.
Blaine and Colton Boomer played for the Langley Thunder. Blaine registered one goal and nine assists in 13 games, and Colton supplied one goal in two games.
“I think it’s a political thing. It doesn’t matter to me. I just try and stay out of all that B.S.,” said Scabar.
Pauwels racked up eight goals in the deciding game, following up a five-goal performance in a 14-8 victory at Memorial Arena in Game 4 on Monday.
“We are just going to go out there and play hard lacrosse, that’s our motto,” said Scabar. “It’s easier to play dee when you only have two or three guys to key on instead of a deeper offence like ours.”
The Tigers were led offensively by Ryan Sarazin, who potted 35 goals and 60 points, and Jordan Orr, who supplied 28 goals and 54 points.
The Tigers are focused on the present and aren’t worried about keeping their flawless record intact.
“As long as we come out on top, that’s all that matters. I’ve told the guys that we are going to lose at one point and things aren’t going to go our way all the time. It’s about how we take it, move on and learn from it that matters to us,” said Scabar.
Memorial Arena is a sauna from May to September. The old barn has no air conditioning. It can be a stifling experience for the fans, let alone the players.
The Tigers have plenty of experience playing mid-summer games in the Snake Pit. They won the 2013 TOJLL title in Kamloops and played there before winning last year’s title at Kal Tire Place.
“Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to the heat. It’s going to be hot, so what. It’s not really a mind game,” said Scabar. “We like playing in the heat.”
The Venom entered the playoffs as the top-ranked team last year, and entered this year’s playoffs 7-1-8 and the third seed.
Jerome Thorne led the Snakes with 45 goals and 58 points in 12 games.
“We’ve had some close games,” said Pauwels, who fired 40 goals with the NCAA Division II Pfeiffer University Falcons last field season in North Carolina.
“With us getting some momentum going into the series, we’ve got a good chance, but we’ve got to play to our potential.”
The Tigers took the league title in 2009, 2013 and 2014. Kamloops ruled from 2010 to 2012. Game 2 goes 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Arena. Game 3 is slated for Tuesday night (7:30) in Vernon.