The Vernon Tigers beat the Kamloops Venom 12-9 in front of 500 fans at Kal Tire Place Thursday to win their first Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League championship since 2014.
The loss snapped the Venom's three-year hold on the league trophy.
Vernon jumped out to 5-0 first period lead, was up 7-2 after 20 minutes and extended the lead to 9-2 at the 6:25 mark of the second period.
Kamloops scored five of the next seven goals and trailed 11-7 heading into the third and final period. The Venom got as close as 11-8 just 30 seconds into the third period, only to have the Tigers restore their four-goal budge 24 seconds later.
Kordell Primus scored his third goal at 10;37 on a power play to pull the Venom back to within three, but they could not beat Vernon goalie Kyle McIntosh the rest of the game. McIntosh finished with 40 saves.
Vernon native Troy Cuzzetto started in goal for Kamloops. He was pulled in favour of Ethan Milobar at 15:13 of the opening period after the sixth Vernon goal. Cuzzetto returned to the goal after the ninth Tigers’ marker at 6:25 of the second period and finished the game in net for Kamloops. The pair combined for 47 saves. Cuzzetto also picked up an assist on a Primus breakaway goal.
Things got ugly with 2:41 left in the game after Primus received a five-minute match penalty for boarding a Tigers player at the benches. An upset Venom coach Doug Clark received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, a 10-minute misconduct and a gross misconduct. Venom attacker Coltan Boomer received a 10-minute misconduct on the play and another Kamloops coach was dismissed from the game for voicing his displeasure.
The Venom lost captain Brady Georget midway through the first period when he received a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for pasting Tigers sniper Jordy Barr into the end boards. Barr was down for several minutes and missed a couple of shifts.
Barr and Jake Pelletier each had three goals for Vernon. with Pelletier adding three helpers, while singles went to Quinn Stanhope, Brett Olsen, Kaden Doughty, Conor Webb, Eric Reid and Chase Wirth. Anthony Matusiak had two goals for Kamloops.
Each team scored two power play goals.
The Tigers will now face the winner of the combined West Coast-Vancouver Island championship in a one-game, winner take all B.C. final on Aug. 11. The game will be played in the Lower Mainland.