Irish rattle Raiders on St. Pat’s eve

Pat Nelson was a champion, a captain, hard working, calm, a mentor, a goal scorer, respectful and a Shamrock.

Nelson’s No. 20 was retired during the second intermission when the Armstrong Shamrocks hosted the Kelowna Raiders in Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League action Saturday night at the Nor-Val Sports Centre. The Shamrocks did their former captain proud with an 11-6 victory.

“We decided to retire his jersey because he finally decided to retire,” joked Shamrocks’ manager Ryan Nitchie.

“I attempted to retire two or three times in the past,” said Nelson, who is serving in his first season as a co-coach for the Shamrocks. “It’s an honour to be recognized like this by the league and the organization.”

Growing up a Shamrocks fan, Nelson, now 50, donned the green and gold from 1998-2014. During his 17 seasons, he racked up 115 goals, 179 assists and 294 points. Nelson won back-to-back Shaw Cups in 2002 and 2003, scoring the winner in Game 3 in 2002.

“I remember it clearly. We got the ball with less than two minutes, called a time-out and set up a simple play. Pat executed it perfectly and buried an outside shot to take a one-goal lead and hang on to win the Cup,” said Nitchie.

Nelson’s No. 20 joins the retired numbers of Jim Maundrell, Adrien Lemaire, Lance McGregor and Doug Morrison. All were in attendance except for Morrison, who was represented by his nephew, Austin Williamson.

“It was special to be up here with guys like Lance and Jim. They were guys I grew up watching and I never gave much thought to being up here with them,” said Nelson.

Never one to bring attention to himself, Nelson kept his speech short and sweet.

“I’d like to thank my friends, family, teammates and coaches for everything over the years. I also want to thank the rivals, because without them, we wouldn’t have competition,” said Nelson, who called winning the Rowcliffe Cup (regular season), Royal Cup and Shaw Cup in 2003, and getting to play alongside sons Sheldon and Cam last year, his career highlights.

Sheldon, daughter Adrian and wife Debbie joined Nelson for the ceremony Saturday.

Close to 40 former Shamrocks and Vernon Tigers were in attendance and were reminiscing about battle stories.

“He was the captain when I played and in my eyes he still is the captain,” said Blaine Stewart, who played beside Nelson from 1998-2008. “He’s a great mentor for these young guys to look up to.”

The Shamrocks (6-1) held off a second-period surge by the Raiders (1-6) and cruised to victory.

Second-year Shamrock Jordan Zacharuk sniped five goals including three and the game-winner in the second, nullifying any Raider comeback.

“He (Pat) really helps me out, he’s positive and spends a lot of one-on-one time with you,” said Zacharuk.

“Things were getting out of hand, but he kept reminding us to stick to our game plan and  move the ball around.”

Singles came from Andrew Schwab, Dylan Long, Steven Clark, Bayne Bosquet, Milan Marcetta and Braidy Webb.

“I really love this team. They are young, skilled and fast. I’m privileged to be on the bench for the next generation of the Shamrocks,” said Nelson.

The Shamrocks swept the weekend games after they dumped the Kamloops Rattlers 12-3 Friday night in Armstrong.

Assistant captain Jarrett Medhurst’s hat trick and two assists powered the Shamrocks over the 3-3 Rattlers.

Clark and Schwab supplied a pair of goals and Kas Boudreau, Kyle Versteeg, Bosquet, Rob Rintoul and Marcetta registered singles.

The Shamrocks visit Kelowna Saturday night.

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