Local player wins lacrosse league title

Vernon-based junior squad wins league championship with some Cranbrook talent.

Joel Fruncillo accepts the trophy and banner with team captain Keith Hanna.

Joel Fruncillo accepts the trophy and banner with team captain Keith Hanna.

A Vernon Jr. B lacrosse team won their league championships with a little help from some Cranbrook talent.

Joel Fruncillo, who mans the net for the Vernon Tigers, led his team to the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League title after down in the Kamloops Venom in four games in the final series.

With a league title in hand, the Tigers are waiting for two other Jr. B league playoffs in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to end before all three go head to head for the provincial championship during the upcoming August long weekend.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Fruncillo. “I’ve never really been on a championship team before, so this is a great opportunity.”

Fruncillo, a 20-year-old Cranbrook product, has been with the team for a few years after growing up in the Key City and moving away to further his lacrosse career on the coast.

“I played in Cranbrook pretty much for my whole life until I was 16, then I got drafted to a team on the coast,” said Fruncillo.

He ended up with the Venom after playing a bit in the Jr. A Intermediate league in the Lower Mainland.

Winning the league this year is a long time coming, since they lost out in the final last year, with Fruncillo on the bench with an injury.

“Last year, we made it all the way to the finals but I broke my hand at the end of the regular season, so I wasn’t able to play,” said Fruncillo, “but this year, when we came into the season, we were definitely looking forward to contending—we were definitely coming in as one of the top teams and we were expecting to be in the finals.”

The Venom gave the Tigers a tough final, winning one game, however, the Vernon squad was able to rack up the necessary three victories in the best-of-five series.

“They [Kamloops] started out really weak this year—I think they were 1-10 at one point in the season—but then towards the end of the year, they got a couple guys back and started really coming together,” said Fruncillo. “By playoffs, they upset the number one team—Kelowna—and gave us a really good series.”