Venom face nemesis Shamrocks in semifinal
The junior B Kamloops Venom had a tough time dealing with the rough-and-tumble Armstrong Shamrocks in Thompson-Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League (TOJLL) regular-season play.
Armstrong tallied two wins and a tie in three meetings with Kamloops, with the combined series score winding up at 16-8 in favour of the Shamrocks.
The beautiful thing about those numbers for the Venom — they don’t play a part in deciding the best-of-three TOJLL semifinal matchup, which gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 11, in Armstrong.
Memorial Arena in Kamloops will host Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, and Game 3, if necessary, will start at 7:30 p.m. in Armstrong on Friday, July 15.
Venom co-head coach Al Forster said his squad had a tough time penetrating the Shamrocks’ zone defence in the regular season.
He also said Kamloops put itself behind the eight ball by retaliating to Armstrong’s taunts and hyper-physical play.
The remedy for the first problem, Forster said, is for the Venom to do what they know best — run the floor.
“You have to set a zone up,” said Forster, who will man the bench with co-head coach Doug Clark and assistants Rob Smith and Tyler Knox.
“So, we’re preparing to push the floor and keep the game going.”
Speedsters Jamie Forster, Rob Peterson (who is expected to return from injury) and Jerome Thorne will be among the Venom using their speed to keep the Shamrocks off balance.
Kamloops is working on several strategies in practice to penetrate the zone when the game does slow down.
If the Venom can stick to their own game plan (run the floor) and remain disciplined, that should take care of the penalty trouble they encountered against Armstrong earlier this season.
“They are the more aggressive-style team that should be getting more penalties than we do,” Forster said.
“During the regular season, we were getting more penalties than they were and that’s just retaliation, hence our success against them wasn’t great.”
The Venom and Shamrocks have not played since May 28 when Armstrong toppled Kamloops 6-1 at Nor-Val Arena.
Forster said his squad has come a long way since then.
“I’d like to think that we’re a better team now,” he said.
“The last month of the season has been pretty good for us.”
The Venom posted a 7-2 record in June, which included a two-game sweep of the Kamloops Rattlers in the TOJLL quarter-final.
Andrew Copeland and Cody Mior split time between the pipes this season for the Venom, but Copeland will get the start against Armstrong.
The Venom rode Copeland to a provincial championship and a fourth-place finish at nationals in 2010.
To get back to the provincial championship, Kamloops will have to first get past Armstrong, which have been a thorn in the River City squad’s side.
“They’ve been a bit of a nemesis to us,” Forster said.
“There’s no doubt about it.”