With the grim reaper hovering above the Vernon end of Kal Tire Place, the Source for Sports Tigers stared him down and forced a Game 4.
The Tigers trimmed the Kamloops Venom 13-9 in Game 3 of the best-of-five Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League final Tuesday night.
“I feel a heck of a lot better now,” said Tigers’ head coach Chris Scabar. “This win gives us a spark and puts a bounce in our step.”
The Tigers trailed the series 2-1 with Game 4 played Thursday night at Memorial Arena in Kamloops.
The Venom have been dictating the pace all series, but they took a backseat to Ryan Sarazin in Game 3.
Sarazin was more focused than a university student cramming for final exams. He scored the first three goals and displayed how much the game meant to him with several fist pumps after each goal.
“We were a little nervous before the game, but we got a really close team with a lot of fifth-year guys in the room and we didn’t want this to be their last game,” said Sarazin, who was named the first star.
Scabar started six seniors in what could have been their final game. Darrell Landels, Jay Seaton, Tre Mason, Braden Barr, Sarazin and goaltender Aaron Jensen graduate the Tigers program this summer.
Close to 500 fans packed into KTP, including a boisterous contingent of Venom fans.
Riley Peterson opened the scoring 1:51 in from Riley Polacik and Haden Hoover. Peterson was the second star with 5+2, highlighted by an incredible flying goal, where he leaped in the air, pump faked in mid-flight, and fired it past Jensen 9:08 into the second.
Jerome Thorne, Blaine Boomer, Kyle Pauwels and Hoover added singles.
The Tigers took over with four goals in the second, including two by Darrell Landels, whose brother, Thomas, celebrated his 18th birthday.
In his third year with the Cats, Quintin Harrish is coming into his own in the playoffs.
Harrish bagged 20 goals and 28 points in 10 regular season games.
“I feel like I’m more of a part of this offence and not just a transition player anymore,” said Harrish, who finished with 1+2. “I’m working well with Sarazin out there and I’m seeing the net pretty good.”
Ethan Anderson chipped in a pair, while Jordy Barr, Steele Pelletier, Seaton, Darrien Ottesen and Braden Barr added singles for Vernon.
For a goaltender who was rumored to have a lower-body injury, Jensen was moving around with ease between the pipes. He was sliding post-to-post fluently, making second- and third-save opportunities and bouncing to his feet while making 55 stops. He was the third star.
Dalan Etter registered a 9.91 goals against average and .784 save percentage for the Snakes this season. At 8:34 into the second, Etter was sprinting to his bench during a delayed Tigers’ penalty when he collapsed. The game stopped while the Venom training staff attended to Etter, who was forced to leave the game with a lower-body injury. He made 23 stops on 30 shots and his status for Game 4 was unknown.
Fifth-year goaltender Mitch Horsman entered and was solid the rest of the way despite being late to the floor and missing all of the pre-game warmup.
“I’ve had to come off the bench before with Andrew Copeland. You just have to stay relaxed, step into the net and do what you can,” said Horsman, who made 18 saves on 24 shots.
If the Tigers force Game 5, it will be played Monday (7:30 p.m.) at Kal Tire Place.