The Vernon Source for Sports Tigers put their foot on the gas, moved into the fast lane and were never seen from again when Thomas Landels scored on a breakaway in the second period.
The Tigers ambushed the Armstrong Shamrocks 19-6 in Game 1 of the best-of-five opening round Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League playoffs Tuesday night at Kal Tire Place.
The Shamrocks scored 31 seconds into the first when Keith Minnis buried a powerplay marker.
“I was definitely a little nervous at the start,” said Tigers’ netminder Aaron Jensen. “The regular season is one thing, but the playoffs are another season.”
The Tigers’ offence had their goalie’s back, however, as they responded with five straight goals in a span of 8:56 for a 7-2 lead after the first frame.
“Not really the start to the playoffs we were looking for,” said Shamrocks’ assistant coach Chad Pieper. “It was a tough one, we battled hard, but in order to beat these guys, you got to be perfect. And we were far from perfect.”
The shots were tied at 19 after the first, but the Tigers poured it on with 28 shots in the second.
“We did a great job moving the ball around and getting to loose balls,” said Landels. “We were able to control most of the game that way.”
The second period was highlighted by a spirited fight between the Tigers’ Quintin Harrish and the Shamrocks’ Todd Hoggarth. Both players were given game misconducts. Hoggarth took most of the damage as his helmet popped off during the fight.
“It’s a series and a tough battle. There is a lot of stuff going on between the benches and our guys had enough,” said Pieper.
Harrish recorded two goals and one assist before exiting with the Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Tigers dominated both sides of the floor. Cats’ captain Braden Barr recorded the defensive play of the game when he ran down Kaden Sagh on a breakaway and separated stick from man for the turnover.
Braden’s brother, Jordy Barr sniped four goals and was first star.
“Our defence played well, we moved the ball great and we’ve got a lot of key guys who can put the ball in the net,” said the seventeen-year old Jordy.
Jordy was ejected with 11 minutes remaining for sparring with a few Shamrock players, but remains very confident about the playoffs.
“I feel like we are going to take it all the way and play awesome,” said Barr, whose third goal of the night was the easiest he’ll ever score.
On the powerplay, in the Shamrocks’ zone, goalie Cole MacFarlane left his net to go pin Steele Pelletier against the boards and give him the business. Meanwhile, Barr had a yawning net in front of him.
The Tigers were feeling themselves in the third period with several behind-the-back shots and slam dunk attempts.
Nich Yadernuk had the shakes that will make you quake, as he was able to bust loose and score two goals and supplied two helpers for the Shamrocks.
“I did a great job on the fast break tonight. I pump-faked left and finished right,” said Yadernuk.
Jay Seaton, Ryan Sarazin, and Liam MacPhee each finished with a pair of goals, while Sean Connors, Darrell Landels, Pelletier, Tre Mason (who turned 21), Braden Barr and Brett Olsen added singles.
Minnis registered a pair and Keegan Castle supplied a single for the Rocks.
Neither starting goalie finished. Jensen was replaced by Jeremy Gray at 3:35 of the third period to save energy with the score 15-4. Jensen faced 31 shots. Gray gave up two powerplay goals on 12 shots.
MacFarlane was replaced by Kalvin Davyduke with 15:35 remaining. Macfarlane surrendered 16 goals on 58 shots. Davyduke was beaten three times on 13 shots.
The Tigers outshot the Rocks 71-43, and coach Pieper knows they need to cut down their shots allowed .
“Our defence needs to step up, get to loose balls and get in their shooters’ faces,” said Pieper.
As for the Tigers’ adjustments, “We won’t change one stitch,” said coach Chris Scabar.
Game 2 went Thursday night in Armstrong with Game 3 Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Kal Tire Place. The Kamloops Venom downed the South Okanagan Flames 13-6 in their opener Tuesday night at Kelowna Memorial Arena. Game 2 went Thursday night in Kamloops.
Game 3 goes Saturday in Kelowna.