Fatigue and lack of finish prevented the South Okanagan Flames from completing a comeback.
Playing their third game in three days, the Flames lacrosse team lost 14-9 loss to the Vernon Tigers at Penticton’s Memorial Arena in Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League action Sunday. The Flames now have three wins and seven losses in 10 games.
Trailing 10-6 after two periods, the Flames struck quickly with three goals early in the third period when Connor Walton found a hole in Aaron Jensen to make it 10-9.
Walton said it was nice to see his teammates get excited after his goal inched them closer.
“We were almost back in the game,” he said.
The bad news for the Flames was they couldn’t stop the Tigers from responding right away. Within minutes, the Tigers restored their two-goal lead and built on it. Flames runner Gage Buchanan had a chance to put the Flames back within a goal on a breakaway, but couldn’t beat Jensen. Another opportunity from Liam Neary was denied on the power play as he was set free on a breakaway. The Tigers responded again during the Flames’ power play. A runner got free, broke to the net and found an opening behind Dean Grimm to make it 12-9.
“They are a good team,” said Walton of Vernon. “Last periods are hard for us. We were all trying hard. We could go harder on loose balls.”
Walton admitted the group was exhausted after the three games, which couldn’t be avoided when planning the schedule.
With roster challenges remaining an issue, the Tigers look for positives anywhere, even if it means being happy with winning a period. Walton said they are building confidence offensively with more goals coming. He also said players who haven’t played as much are stepping up.
Flames coach Alex Gerk said they have worked on a lot of things, one of them being defence, which he said improved. Gerk said they had their o pportunities against the Tigers including 10 posts, but just couldn’t finish.
“We had tons of fast breaks,” he said.
Josh Greenwood led offensively with three goals, while Kaid McLeod and Walton scored twice. Buchanan and Neary scored the other goals.
One thing that stood out during their loss to the Tigers was physicality, which resulted in a partial fight late in the game. Gerk said there is a small rivalry building.
“Been playing them almost every weekend,” said Gerk, adding that he said what’s developing is healthy. “No one is cheap-shotting each other. It’s just good battles.”
The Flames opened the weekend with a 9-8 win over the Armstrong Shamrocks. McLeod led offensively with three goals, while Chris Pond scored two. They then lost to the Kamloops Venom 11-4 the next day. Greenwood, Trevor Dermody, Kees Mooijer and Levi Thompson scored.
The Flames have three home games left on their schedule. The next game is June 8 at Memorial Arena at 7:30 p.m., then June 16 at 5 p.m. and June 23 at 5 p.m.