The Cranbrook Junior Outlaws have been crowned champions after sweeping the West Kootenay Timberwolves in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Tier III Championship.
The Outlaws won 13-7 and 14-6 at Memorial Arena on July 5 and 6 respectively in the best of three series against their rivals.
“It was good,” said Russ Sheppard, head coach, Cranbrook Junior Outlaws.
“It doesn’t matter what level you are playing at when a team of youth work their butts off all year and work hard, going through the grind of a season — anytime you can pull out your last game as a win, is always a good feeling.”
The Outlaws finished the 2019 box lacrosse season with a 6-5-1 record for 13 points in 12 games.
It was a close season all year with the Outlaws having a 3-3-1 record against the Timberwolves going into championship play.
“I thought our defensive players played really well, Tanner Scoville was great on defense. It was also one of the first times that we were able to play that team with all of our roster there … we wanted every period, to just build a little more cohesiveness with our offence, and they have a really good goalie so the game plan so to get a lot of shots from all over the floor and try to get some good goals and some greasy goals,” explained Sheppard.
The Outlaws are strong offensively, which was showcased throughout the championships by many of their players. Sheppard notes Wyatt Fancy and Kasey Miller contributed off the left side, and Hunter Zawada on the right side playing with an injury continued to have an impact, as well as players like Fletcher Backshell-Jones and Michael Blackwell continued to dominate all series.
“We have a lot of power that can really move the ball quickly,” Sheppard added.
Having played the Timberwolves many times this season, there was a special type of intensity for the playoffs.
“Anytime you play a team that many times, you are going to develop a pretty fierce rivalry,” said Sheppard.
“Lacrosse is very physical and very intense so that even added a little bit more. I think by the end of the second game you could see there was definitely no love lost between the two teams.”
With the Tier III Championship, Sheppard said the Junior Outlaws hope to be able to move up a tier for next season.
“We thought at the beginning of the year that our team could have played in the Tier II division, so it’s a little bittersweet for us too because we wanted to also let the league know that we believe we are a Tier II team, and we are on the target list to move up next year,” he said.
The Tier II division is larger and includes two conferences and four division with teams from North and South Alberta.