Raider grads get final kick at Minto
Lacrosse: Veteran core eager to make Alberta history at nationals
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 06:00 am
For nearly half of the Okotoks Jr. Raiders, the 2013 Minto Cup represents more than a measuring stick against the nation’s best.
It’s also a last kick at the can in the pursuit of Alberta’s first ever victory over British Columbia and Ontario opposition at the national Jr. A finals, held Aug. 17-26 in New Westminster, B.C.
“From being able to go to the Minto you get to learn from them and I think one day we will get a win, maybe even this year,” said Okotoks’ Cam Copland, buoyed by the Raiders’ historic exhibition victory over Port Coquitlam in May. “I definitely think we have a high possibility of winning. When we went out there the first time we got a win and we know what we’re going into now.
“We know what kind of pace we have to play at, we know we have to play a 60-minute game… I don’t think we would be surprised if we (get a win).”
The 2013 Minto Cup will be the end of the current format which sees the three provincial champions and a host team compete for national gold.
Starting in 2014, the Minto Cup will be a two-horse race through a best of seven series featuring the Ontario champions and Western representatives, determined on an Alberta versus British Columbia preliminary playoff.
Eight graduating Raiders - including fifth year players Copland, Brett Baron and Aaron Tackaberry as well as Kevin Pym, Kyle Burrell, Dustin Reykdal, Ethan Trotter and Matt Kristiansen – managed to extend their final days of Junior lacrosse a couple weeks with Okotoks’ fourth league championship secured in Saturday’s Game 7 win over the Calgary Mountaineers.
“It was definitely one of the bigger games, not just for myself but for the other guys that are graduating this year,” Copland said. “It’s quite a letdown if you don’t get to go to (nationals), especially in your last year of Junior.
“You basically grew up with these kids. You don’t want to let yourself down or everyone else in the room.”
The 21-year-old brings the most national experience to the floor as a two-time Minto Cup veteran with the Raiders to go along with his stint on loan with the Mountaineers at the 2012 championships.
Through each trip to the national stage, he’s picked up invaluable experience of getting to see how different Alberta lacrosse is to B.C. and Ontario.
“The speed of the game is so different,” Copland said. “Everyone coming out of B.C. is 18 and older so there’s a toughness level there too, they’re big guys out there.”
Kevin Pym, also entering his fourth nationals after debuting at the Minto Cup with the Edmonton Eclipse in 2009, wants to make a statement in his Junior swan song.
“The first time I went it was definitely scary, but each time I go back we seem to improve and keep closing that gap,” he said. “We’re going to have to work our (butts) off to do it, but we’re pretty confident we can get a win out there.”
Okotoks’ fourth trip to the Minto Cup will see the team matched up with the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Coquitlam Adanacs and Whitby Warriors.
It’s the exact same field, save for the Salmonbellies in place of the Edmonton Eclipse, which hit the floor at the 2011 Minto Cup in Okotoks with Whitby taking home the title.
“Our work ethic needs to be even better than it has been,” Pym said. “Going out there playing against these teams from Ontario and B.C., our mindset has got to be that we’re going to compete, we want to win games and take that cup home.”
“We want to make that statement that Alberta has improved.”
Okotoks managed a narrow one-goal loss to the Adanacs, 2010 Minto Cup champions and five-time defending B.C. Jr. A titleholders, and dropped an even 11-9 contest to the Langley Thunder during its exhibition jaunt to the left coast in May.
“We went out and played three games and hung with them,” said Raiders head coach Dave Pym. “Now that we’ve got our full team with a full season under our belt, I think we can hang with anybody.
“If these guys play to their potential and execute then we’re going to be dynamite.”