The Armstrong Shamrocks may have ended their regular season in the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League with their fifth consecutive Shaw Cup championship but their lacrosse season is far from over.
The Shamrocks have organized an international friendly match against Team Slovakia in advance of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships being held in Langley later this month.
The Shamrocks will host the Slovaks in a one-game challenge match on Monday, Sept. 16 at the historic Hassen Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Shamrocks officials admit that the quarters will be cramped in the Old Barn but it will give the game a retro feel.
“We are fortunate to have a dry floor venue to host a late-season game like this,” said Shamrocks head coach Ryan Nitchie who will be joined on the bench by guest coaches Myles Brumpton and Darcy Rhodes as well as veteran Shamrock captains Chad Pounder and Pat Nelson.
“We are very grateful to the City of Armstrong, Township of Spallumcheen and the Parks and Recreation Commission for donating the floor time for this game.”
The game is a fundraiser for Team Slovakia who receives very limited funding to attend the World Championships.
“We are pricing all admission for the game at $10 which we feel is reasonable and given the limited seating capacity we are encouraging fans to arrive early and squeeze into the bleachers as they did in the old days,” added Nitchie.
Team Slovakia will arrive in Armstrong early afternoon on Sept. 16 and will use the Hassen Arena for a pre-game walk-through practice. Then in true Armstrong hospitality the team will be treated to a pre-game dinner sponsored by the Armstrong Ladies Club at the Centennial Hall.
“The Armstrong Ladies Club support so many great causes in the community and when they were asked if they could help out hosting these international visitors they jumped at the opportunity,” said Nitchie.
The game should be a competitive one with the Shamrocks fielding a full roster of their championship performers including three-time league-leading scorer Brett Hawrys who will return home from university to play in the game and he will be joined by long-time teammate and current member of the National Lacrosse League Vancouver Warriors Owen Barker.
The Shamrocks have also reached out to other TOSLL teams and will feature Kamloops Rattlers leading scorer AJ Lockwood as well as Kelowna Raiders sniper Andrew Garrant and goaltender Graham Cousins.
“We wanted to field a competitive team and use the opportunity to include players from other league teams to build some camaraderie and showcase some of the talent growing in the league.” said Nitchie.
The Shamrocks last hosted an international friendly match in 1978 when Team Australia played at the Hassen Arena on their way to the Commonwealth Games hosted in Edmonton. The Shamrocks easily defeated the Aussies with Jim Maundrell named as an All-Star.
“Hosting the Aussies in ‘78 was one of the highlights of my lacrosse career and we all have great memories from the game and hanging out with their team after the game,” said Maundrell, “What a great opportunity for this generation of Shamrocks to get a similar experience.”
The game will be played under international box lacrosse rules which feature some slightly different nuances: 4 – 15 minute quarters, 3 officials, different face off rules and a 10-second requirement to get the ball out of the defensive end and across centre to name just a few.