Senior lacrosse is being revived in Vernon.
That’s good news for the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League which, in 2018, dwindled to two teams – the Armstrong Shamrocks and Kamloops Rattlers.
The Kelowna Raiders are returning to the senior circuit after taking a leave of absence for 2018. The Raiders reached the Shaw Cup final in ‘17, losing in three straight games to the Shamrocks.
The Vernon Senior Tigers are rejoining the loop after a six-year hiatus, having last participated in the league in 2012.
“I figured it was now or never,” said Brennan Plante, 28, a Vernon native who is a runner with the Shamrocks, of his efforts to revive senior lacrosse in his hometown. “With the Kelowna junior team folding (as they did in 2018), there wasn’t much lacrosse left. And if there wasn’t a three- or four-team senior league this year, the league would die and then senior lacrosse in the Okanagan would likely not exist again.
“Trying to get four cities to make expansions teams would be next to impossible.”
Plante was a rookie with the Tigers in 2012. After the team folded, he joined the Shamrocks.
It was during last year’s shortened season, where the Shamrocks and Rattlers played six games against each other – rather, five games; Kamloops cancelled once due to a shortage of players – and no post-season when Planted began to think about resurrecting the senior Tigers.
“Even a three-team league wasn’t fun, but a four-team league is pretty good,” he said. “When Kelowna dropped out at the last second last year, leaving just Armstrong and Kamloops, I thought, ‘Oh man, we’re in trouble.’”
Plante said he has solid commitments from about 12 players, and solid maybes from six more, to help bring back the Tigers. He’s looking to graduates of the Vernon Junior Tigers program to help solidify the roster.
“Now that we have a four-team league, I think it will persuade some more people to come forward,” said Plante. “Even though we’ll be an expansion team, we should have lots of talent from the Junior Tigers, who have been winning championships, coming up. I think the Vernon team will be competitive if all people that say they’re coming out come out.”
Vernon and Kelowna’s inclusion in the league for 2019 is welcome news to the Shamrocks.
“It’s a great thing for the league to be back up to four teams,” said longtime Shamrocks goalie/executive Chad Pieper. “The players will be more into it and the schedule works better with four teams.”
The Shamrocks won the five-game season series against Kamloops in 2018. Pieper said they expect to lose Plante and Craig Bigsby to Vernon, but will have a full roster.
There is drop-in lacrosse every Thursday at 8 p.m., free of charge, at Armstrong’s Hassen Arena for all Vernon and Armstrong junior and senior players.
Anybody interested in joining the Senior Tigers can express their interest on the team’s Facebook page, Vernon Sr. Tigers 2019 comeback.
The Vernon Tigers senior team that won three straight B.C. and Canadian Senior B lacrosse championships from 1976-78 will be honoured with a special banner recognition ceremony.
A banner commemorating the team’s achievements has been raised to the rafters at Kal Tire Place, and on Saturday, Feb. 9, prior to the Vernon Vipers’ B.C. Hockey League home game against the Penticton Vees, a number of the Tigers will be introduced on the red carpet for a ceremonial puck drop.