Kevin Thompson predicts his South Okanagan Flames lacrosse team will win its series against the Kamloops Venom.
The best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League matchup begins July 5 in Kamloops before coming to Oliver, where the Flames will play their home game, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. The teams split their regular season matchup with two wins.
“I’m confident in our guys,” said Thompson, the Flames coach. “Unfortunately we are going to be a little bit short of players because of the graduating group. Our senior guys are going to step up.”
The Flames ended their best regular season, 10 wins, five losses and a tie, with a 15-7 win over the Vernon Tigers on the road. It was a huge win for the group. Thompson said his team is hungry this year and the players got a great feeling from that win.
When it comes to playing the Venom, Thompson expects a tight series. As much as he would love to win it in three games, he feels it will go five.
“I think they are going to be bringing everything they got,” he said.
In practice, the Flames have focused on special teams, but Thompson hopes his team will avoid penalty problems. The key to him to defeat the Venom he said will be playing strong defence. He said the Venom move the ball well.
“They buzz around and they have their offence constantly moving,” he said. “Our defence has to stay the grounds, stay on the D side of them. Not get picked out of plays.”
Working in the Flames favour is a strong balance between defence and offence. The Flames will be challenged though with a shortened roster. During the season they got support from affiliate players from the Penticton Heat association, but those players won’t be available until after July 10 because of the provincial championships.
As for playing in Oliver, since Memorial Arena is not available anymore with ice put in, Thompson believes the fantastic fan support they received during the year will continue.
“I believe we’re probably going to fill Oliver Arena,” he said. “I think they are excited.”