Balanced Raiders cruise to opening win

Lacrosse: Okotoks starts season with 17-10 triumph of St. Albert

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am

Okotoks Jr. Raider Ben Fream fires a shot off on St. Albert Miners goalie Scott Kavalinas during Okotoks’ <br />season opening 17-10 win on Saturday at Pason Centennial Arena.
Okotoks Jr. Raider Ben Fream fires a shot off on St. Albert Miners goalie Scott Kavalinas during Okotoks’
season opening 17-10 win on Saturday at Pason Centennial Arena.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The kids are all right.

With 10 rookies in the lineup, the Okotoks Jr. A Raiders showcased a balanced attack in burying the St. Albert Miners 17-10 to kick-start their regular season in fine form, Saturday at Pason Centennial Arena.

“We’re just distributing the ball,” said Raiders attackman Jordan Getz. “Last year I found the ball was getting caught in a few guys’ sticks and (today) on most offensive shifts we had everyone touch the ball, five guy unit with five guys getting involved.

“That’s what we’re focusing on this year, not just running through one guy. I think that buried us when it came down to the Minto last year.”

Twenty-four hours after trading away primary offensive weapon Holden Cattoni to Peterborough, the Raiders flexed a multi-dimensional attack.

“It’s a big loss, obviously, he’s a great player. All due respect, he’s done great things in the game and great for him to be out East,” Getz said. “We’ve got to look forward with us now.”

So far, so good.

Okotoks couldn’t have drawn up a better start in its home and season opener, building a 5-1 advantage inside five minutes through rookies Eric Dowie and Randy Hanger and a pair from Getz.

The latter would add two more before period’s end, using a screen to go top-shelf for the hat-trick and opting for a deke and five-hole bouncer for his fourth of the frame as Okotoks entered the intermission with a 7-2 advantage.

“We’re just trying to run through the system, tonight it was me in the right place,” Getz said. “Any other night, it could be any of these guys, we’re all skilled enough to put the ball in the net.”

Freshman Brett McIntyre then picked up his first as a Raider with a top-corner howitzer early in the second period to chase Miners netminder Scott Kavalinas.

A pair of sophomores combined to increase the Raiders lead as High River’s Kade McCormick’s point shot and Dylan Kinnear’s breakaway beauty both offered up a rude welcome to Miners netminder Hunter Wongstedt.

Following a 2-0 run from the Miners, another rookie stepped up to the plate for the hosts. Okotoks minor lacrosse product Colton Bymak found a seam and the back of the net for his first goal in Junior lacrosse.

“I just wanted to get that (goal) over with. Now I’m not working for that, I’m working to help the team out,” said Bymak, a Grade 11 student at Foothills Composite, who couldn’t have envisioned a more enjoyable debut. “I didn’t really expect it to go this way. It was a ton of fun, I didn’t want to get off the floor.”

The Miners might disagree.

Okotoks closed the period on a 4-1 run, with Ben Fream, McIntyre and McCormick finding the twine, to carry a commanding 15-6 lead into the final stanza.

St. Albert came out with urgency after the intermission and didn’t waste any time cutting into its significant deficit. The Miners opened the period with back-to-back tallies before yet another Okotoks rookie came to the forefront.

Debutant Kyle Patterson, playing his first Junior A game after five years in the B ranks with the Calgary Chill, put his name on the board with a highlight reel shorthanded marker.

“We were on the PK and I was trying to get over before the 10 seconds,” said Patterson. “I saw a chance and I took and it squeezed in, thank god.”

After the Miners scored twice in succession through Spencer Gelinas an Nik Farrus, Raiders transition workhorse Josh Weber beat the buzzer with an empty net tally to seal the seven-goal victory.

St. Albert closed the game on a 4-2 run in the final frame to blight what was a stout defensive effort from the hosts and netminder Dylan Bachmeier.

“The keys were just staying tight as a defensive squad and jumping the ball when we could,” Patterson said.

“Little slump in the third, we had some fast breaks and got a bit sloppy with the jumps.”

Next up for the Raiders is a home-and-home set with the rival Calgary Mountaineers. Okotoks is in Calgary’s Peppardome tonight, May 14, to clash with the Mounties at the Stu Peppard Arena. The Raiders then welcome the travelling Mounties to Pason Centennial Arena on March 21. Opening face-off is 8 p.m.

It will be the first meetings between the clubs since the Raiders’ Game 7 triumph in last year’s championship series.

“You’ve always got an ‘X’ on that one. When you’re coming in on Wednesday, it’s a different feeling coming into the arena,” Getz said. “We’re focused on that one now and hopefully we can pull out a win against them.”

Western trip called off

Okotoks’ Victoria Day weekend jaunt to the West Coast has been cancelled.

Raiders coaches Andrew McBride, Dane Dobbie and Dave Pym aren’t able to participate in the planned weekend exhibition series due to their professional commitments with their National Lacrosse League clubs in the post-season. The coaching certification regulations for alternate coaches for the series would not meet the standards of the Alberta Lacrosse Association, forcing the cancellation of the trip.

The Raiders were scheduled to play three exhibition games versus British Columbia Jr. A Lacrosse League foes — the Nanaimo Timberwolves, Victoria Shamrocks and Delta Islanders — from May 17-19.

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