For the first time this season, the Penticton Heat midget advanced lacrosse team has a full roster.
“It’s been a tough year for the team in terms of injury,” said Heat coach Dan Chetner, whose team is in Coquitlam for the provincial championship which starts today. “I have never been involved with a team that has had to deal with so many injuries.”
That may prove to be a blessing in disguise. While they are facing familiar teams (Ridge Meadows, Saanich, Coquitlam, Delta and Port Coquitlam), those squads won’t know what a healthy Heat squad is like.
“A lot of teams are gonna not see us as a real threat, which of course creates opportunity for us,” said Chetner, adding that his players have worked through adversity all year. “We are in as good a position as we can be in. Hopefully we can surprise some teams.”
In being the only midget A1 team in the Okanagan, the Heat didn’t have to qualify to advance to provincials. With no competition, the players had to push themselves to “recreate the game competition” as Chetner put it. What they have going for them is experience. Several players have competed in provincial championships so they understand the pressure and intensity they will face.
“I’m hoping that that experience is going to play a big role in helping the players prepare to play at the appropriate level,” he said. “I hope that we play as well as we can play. I think if we do get a good team performance, from our whole team, that we will be able to compete with all the teams that are there.”
As long as they execute and compete, Chetner said they will take whatever outcome comes their way. With approximately 12 of the 15 players graduating from minor lacrosse, Chetner also hopes that pushes the players to go out with a positive experience.
Penticton opens provincials against Ridge Meadows on July 6, then on Thursday take on Saanich followed by Coquitlam. On Friday they face Delta and play their final pool match Saturday against Port Coquitlam.