Bright future overshadows roster issues for Flames

Tony Ramsay was left with a pretty sour taste in his mouth when the season for the South Okanagan Flames lacrosse team ended.

Tigers’ Craig Bigsby (left) and Flames’ netminder Trent Gabriel battle for a loose ball in Game 2 of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League quarterfinal Wednesday night at Wesbild Centre.

Tigers’ Craig Bigsby (left) and Flames’ netminder Trent Gabriel battle for a loose ball in Game 2 of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League quarterfinal Wednesday night at Wesbild Centre.

Tony Ramsay was left with a pretty sour taste in his mouth when the season for the South Okanagan Flames lacrosse team ended.

During the opening round of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse playoffs in early July, the Vernon Tigers thumped the Flames 9-2 — then in Game 2, a 9-8 loss, the Flames pushed the Tigers to extra time with 28 seconds left on a goal by Chris Johnson. The Tigers prevailed on a controversial call.

“It’s frustrating to lose that way; to be put down a man and lose in overtime. That’s all I can say, nicely,” said Ramsay, to the Vernon Morning Star.

With its usual lineup, the Flames made it difficult for the Tigers to move on.

Another reason was he had player commitment issues. Ramsay believes the Flames were capable of winning the series. Aside from the way they lost, Ramsay struggled to get players leading into the playoffs.

“I had four runners show up at one practice, five at another,” he said. “I was disappointed in the commitment level of some of the players. It’s frustrating as a coach when you put in a ton of time and you don’t get reciprocating feelings towards commitment from the players. Some of the younger players that we have, were committed. I’m not faulting them. Some of the older players, whether it’s work commitments, or other things that weren’t there, I was disappointed in that.”

To correct that problem, Ramsay intends to meet with players next season that are interested in playing. He will emphasize that he wants full commitment.

“Not interested in having them come out when they feel like it,” said Ramsay, who added that committed players were disappointed by the problem. “We’ll send a strong message that it will not be tolerated. Might as well not waste our time.”

On a positive note, in comparing this season to last, Ramsay feels they were more successful in the win column, picking up five in 15 games. For next season, the Flames have a number of young players returning, while only losing two to the age limit of 21. In having Jean-Luc Chetner, Josh Greenwood, Kaid McLeod and Brad Stel added to the lineup, Ramsay feels things look positive.

“They really improved from the beginning,” said Ramsay.

Things also looked better in the stands for the Flames. Relocating from Summerland to Penticton helped the organization get attention.

“The city of Summerland treated the team very well for the years that we were there,” said Flames president Kevin Harms. “The one issue that could not be overcome in Summerland was fan attendance.”

Harms said that 2011 goes in the books as one of their best seasons ever.

While fans came out and supported the team, so did businesses such as Save-On-Foods, their main sponsor, Advantage Mini Storage, Artisan Pools, Event Custom Merchandise, Raymond James, and Fortis BC, which helped bring down player costs.

“The support from the sponsors was great and we will be looking to extend the opportunity for local businesses to take part next year. Global Spectrum and Penticton Minor Hockey also provided us much needed support and direction and were a pleasure to deal with throughout the season,” added Harms.

As for the coaching, Harms felt Ramsay did a remarkable job.

“Personally, I cannot think of a better person than Tony to lead our team into the 2012 season and am excited to think of the possibilities,” he said.