With a 4-6 record, it was admittedly a mediocre regular season for the Kelowna Raiders.
But there was nothing remotely second-rate about the Raiders’ game in the Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League playoffs, as they swept their way to the 2013 Shaw Cup title.
After disposing of Armstrong in straight games in the semifinal, Kelowna did the same to the Kamloops Rattlers, winning the best-of-three final 2-0 and capturing the TOSLL crown for the third year in a row.
The Raiders secured the championship Friday night inside a scorching hot Memorial Arena in Kelowna, beating the Rattlers 9-5.
The league’s top two scorers, A.J. Lockwood and Riley Donahue, were basically handcuffed by a staunch Raiders’ defence, while Graham Cousins was nothing short of spectacular in Kelowna’s net.
“We had to shut down their top scorers to win and our guys did a great job of that,” said Raiders captain Jacob Illichmann. “Ryan Phillips was great, he came back from a suspension and completely shutdown Lockwood. He did nothing.
“(Goalie) Graham (Cousins) was unbelievable in net for us, too,” added Illichmann. “He’s been huge in all three of championship wins since he came here.”
After a tight first period, the Raiders ripped the game open in the second frame with five goals.
Braden Renner, Joe Brown, Jordan Innes and Ryan Sage scored two goals apiece, while Illichmann sealed the deal with a goal late in the third, as the Raiders peaked at the ideal time of the season.
“It was huge for us to win this again,” Illichmann said. “We had a rough year at the start, but the guys hung in there and we just kept building. The guys really bought into being a team and it paid off for us.”
With the win, the Raiders qualify to represent the TOSLL at the upcoming provincial senior C lacrosse championships.
However, due to other commitments by some Kelowna players during the tournament, the Raiders are not expecting to compete at this year’s B.C. finals.