Raiders swept in league final
Lacrosse: Defending champs ousted by Mountaineers in four games
Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 01:23 pm
The highly-anticipated prolonged dogfight for Alberta lacrosse supremacy was anything but.
The Calgary Mountaineers dethroned the defending champion Okotoks Jr. Raiders with authority in wrapping up a four-game sweep of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League final in a 9-6 triumph July 30 at Pason Centennial Arena.
“The kids showed a lot of jam and a lot of moxie coming back and never hanging their heads,” Raiders head coach Andrew McBride said. “Really proud of them.
“The Mounties definitely deserved to win they have a lot of solid guys over there. They came to play every game and really executed their game plan.”
Okotoks didn’t go down without a fight in the elimination contest.
Quick strike offence through a pair of Duston Doudelet markers and a powerplay tally from alternate captain Marshall Gibson evened the contest at 5-5 late in the second period.
Calgary’s Ian McShane would restore the one-goal advantage before the intermission and the Mounties wouldn’t look back. Calgary added three in the third to cancel out Raiders captain Carson McCormick’s tally to seal the result and their second provincial banner in three years.
“I knew it was in us to do it in four, however just going by our history there is no easy way around this series,” said Mounties head coach Rick Windl. “I’m not shocked that we had the talent to do this, but I’m surprised we were able to control the pace of the game the way we wanted for four games and make it happen.”
The Mountaineers put Okotoks on the ropes after taking a rambunctious Game 3 by an 18-13 count, a score that flattered the hosts, July 29 in Okotoks.
The tilt had everything from a near line brawl in the second period to the ejection of Mounties starting goalie Jordan Kancsal for a vicious slash followed by a brief outing for backup Tim Houghton who was promptly charged by Raider Jordan Getz, leading to another ejection.
After Houghton was given the gate for use of illegal equipment, Calgary was then forced to run versatile transition player Jordan Felker as its makeshift goalie to close out the contest with a 14-3 lead to work with. Okotoks made it interesting late with 10-third period markers before Calgary found some late insurance through McShane and Connor Goodwin to seal the result.
“We have a great coaching staff that preached discipline,” said Mounties captain Dan Taylor. “Okotoks was playing hard and you can’t get mad at them for that, but we knew they have a very deadly powerplay so we had to stay out of the box.
“Our big thing was don’t give them any chances to get back on us. We thought we could handle them five-on-five and if they got on a run they would be a tough team to stop.”
There is still work to do for Calgary to make it to the Holy Grail of Jr. A lacrosse.
Unlike in year’s past, the provincial championship does not automatically give Alberta’s top-dogs a spot in the Minto Cup. 2014 marks the debut of the Western championship in which Alberta and B.C.’s titleholders, the Coquitlam Adanacs, square off in a best-of-five series with the winner advancing to the Minto versus Ontario’s champions.
“It’s exciting. A lot of times you go to the Minto and a lot of guys are taken back with the fast pace,” said Taylor. “In a five-game series it might take the first game to adjust to the speed.
“I think our team has a great shot, we have a lot of veteran players on our team and picked up a couple great transfers.”
As for the Raiders, it’s back to the drawing board for the relatively youthful club and coaching staff including first-year head coach McBride.
“There is a lot of improvement game by game for all of us and if you can say there is not room for improvement then you’re doing something wrong,” McBride said. “We can’t thank (president) Dave Fehr enough for the opportunity and definitely going to be back next year and continue to prepare an learn from our mistakes.
“Even little things like staying calm on the bench and channelling our energy, that’s the kind of thing you have to improve on as a coach.”
For more information go to raiderslacrosse.ca