The Penticton Heat bantam lacrosse team captured gold at provincials, a first for the age division in their association history.
The Heat came up against a tough Quesnel squad when they hit the floor in the championship game last weekend in Delta, quickly digging themselves into a 2-0 hole.
“Up until then we tended to be a lot bigger or at least the same size as the teams we played. With Quesnel they had a couple of guys that were 200-plus pounds, which is pretty big for bantam aged players. It had the boys thinking silver is not bad at the start of the game,” said assistant coach Goran Markovic. “That first period we were overpowered and our guys couldn’t stop them. But, we have some pretty athletic kids and they figured out that if we can’t go through them, we can go around.”
It started with Heats Ben Olson cutting the 2-0 lead with a goal to end the first period. Quesnel pounced on the Heat again to start the second period, but the Heat didn’t let up and responded with three unanswered goals from Matts Bratton, Jace Canada and Trenton Henson to take a 4-3 lead into the third period.
“Quesnel started to tire and our conditioning really kicked in. We went around them, started to pass a lot more and played smarter lacrosse. Scoring those three goals lifted our team and Quesnel was starting to chase us around and get tired. Before they could reach us to hit us, the ball was already gone,” said Markovic.
Bratton scored to open the third and added another along with Jace Canada and Aiden Canada. Quesnel managed to only score one more in the third, giving the Heat the 8-4 win and provincial gold. Jace Canada led the team in the final with two goals and one assist, Bratton with three goals and Carson Shortreed with three assists.
“Our goalie Connor Ramage really started to earn his keep in the third period and that is why he won the game MVP. He played so well and as the game wore on they couldn’t seem to score. He really shut them down,” said Markovic.
The Heat kicked off the round robin with a 10-3 win over the Port Coquitlam Saints with game MVP going to Jace Canada. They then defeated the Abbotsford Warriors 9-5 with Nash Moog earning the MVP, and defeated the Peninsula (Saanich) Warriors 9-2, with game MVP going to Tayedra Koppe. At the end of the round robin Aiden Warren was selected as FairPlay winner for Penticton and Jace Canada as team MVP. In the semi-final the Heat defeated the West Kootenay Wolf Pack 6-2 with Jace Canada given the game MVP.
“The parents and fans in the crowd for the Heat were probably the loudest in the whole provincials tournament, even when we were down in the finals and the players commented on how that really helped boost them,” said Markovic.
The assistant coach said it was an up-and-down season for the Heat, but earning bronze in three tournaments and one silver helped them peak at just the right time.
Now Penticton Minor Lacrosse is gearing up for field lacrosse which starts in August. Registration is open to 1997 to 2004 born girls and boys. For more information visit www.pentictonlacrosse.ca.
it was an up and down season. We were in a four tournaments, three of which we got bronze and one we got silver so we peaked at just the right time.