The Vernon Source For Sports Tigers owned the Armstrong Shamrocks in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League regular season. That trend has continued so far in the post-season.
The Tigers, who won the regular-season series 4-0, built an 8-0 lead early in the second period and hung on for a 13-6 win in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal set Tuesday night.
Armstrong replied with four straight goals in the second period to close the gap, but some chippy play in the final frame stifled the offensive flow of both clubs.
The teams meet again tonight for Game 2 at Nor-Val Sports Centre. The third tilt is slated for Saturday in Vernon. If necessary, Game 4 would be Monday in Armstrong, followed by Game 5 Thursday at Kal Tire Place. All games are 7:30 p.m. starts.
“Other than some untimely penalties in the second period, the boys played a disciplined and determined game and the outcome was indicative of that,” said Tigers’ head coach Myles Brumpton.
“We know Armstrong is a very determined team and are not going to lay down for us, so our goal is to stay focused and execute the game-plan that is in place.”
Ryan Sarazin led Vernon’s attack with five goals and an assist. He left the game after being checked into the boards by Armstrong captain Nathan Marcetta in the third period. He is questionable to play tonight.
Adding to Vernon’s offence were Nolan Frame (3+1), Jordan Orr (2+3), Liam Drabiuk (1+4), Brett Hanna (1+2) and Mason Limb, who scored on a rarely awarded penalty shot.
Craig Bigsby and Jay Seaton each contributed three assists, while Sean Conors had two. Joel Fruncillo recorded 40 saves for the win.
Stephen Ringdal, with two goals and two assists, led the Shamrocks, who got 1+4 from Conor Payne and singles from Adam New, Cole Williamson and Austin Williamson.
Cole McFarlane earned an assist and made 37 stops for the Irish, while Sam Hanley chipped in with two helpers.
Already having to deal with a short bench, Armstrong head coach Bryan Cope is trying to coax more out the players he does have.
“We didn’t play very well last night; guys aren’t stepping up,” said Cope. “It’s OK to make mistakes, but you’ve got to get in the game.”
The teams combined for 86 minutes in penalties, the majority of them coming in the third period.
Vernon’s Matt Kolb was ejected for trying to fight Armstrong’s Willy Hanley in the third period. Cam Nelson was also tossed as the third man in, while Hanley wasn’t penalized. The Shamrocks’ Drew Hassard earned an early shower (gross misconduct) for chirping at a referee.
After a relatively civil regular-season series with Armstrong, Brumpton was surprised by the penalty parade in Game 1.
“Usually some of our cleanest games are against them,” said Brumpton.
Added Cope: “There was no flow to the game. It just got out of hand.”
As part of Armstrong’s centennial celebration, the Shamrocks will be hosting an alumni night at tonight’s game. All former players, coaches and volunteers are welcome to attend.
The Shamrocks are asking all attending alumni to register at the front gate so they can be introduced during a first-intermission celebration.
Meanwhile, the other TOJLL semifinal began Thursday night as the No. 1 seed Kelowna Raiders hosted the No. 4 Kamloops Venom at Memorial Arena. Game 2 goes Saturday in Kamloops.