The undefeated Blackwolves earned themselves a first-round playoff bye and a second round home playoff match up with the South Alberta Chaos, set for this coming weekend, July 29-30, at the Memorial Arena in Cranbrook. (Photo submitted)

Undefeated Jr. Blackwolves look to repeat in playoffs July 29-30 in Cranbrook

For years, Cranbrook has recognized the Outlaws as the local lacrosse club name. However, at the start of 2023 the announcement was made that Cranbrook lacrosse would don new jerseys and a new logo, as they rebranded to the Cranbrook Blackwolves.

The move connected the association and players closer to the Indigenous roots of the game, with the wolf being a fierce and brave hunter, along with the symbolism of intelligence and loyalty — both needed for a team to be successful.

Thanks to numerous local stakeholders, the Blackwolves were able to procure a professional turf surface, formerly used by the New England Blackwolves of the National Lacrosse League — the highest professional lacrosse league in the world. The new turf has created a talking point across B.C. and Alberta for opponents, potential players, fans, and referees because of the atmosphere it creates for teams and fans, but also because of the injury prevention the turf provides compared to a standard concrete surface.

Cranbrook, then the Outlaws, saw massive success last season for the Jr. B program — with the team going 16-0 in the regular season, sweeping their playoff series, and concluding the year with an Alberta Lacrosse Provincial gold medal, only dropping one game in the round robin stage in overtime.

After only graduating one player last year, the team has picked up exactly where they left off, again accomplishing a perfect 16-0 regular season.

The Blackwolves, made up almost exclusively of Cranbrook and Kimberley 17-21 year old players, are looking to move up to Jr B Tier 1 next season, and took on three added exhibition games this year, going 1-1-1 against Calgary and Lethbridge teams in the higher division. The recent success bodes well to Cranbrook moving up in the 2024 season, where they will compete against more skilled teams.

The regular season success gave the Blackwolves a first-round playoff bye and a second round home playoff match up with the South Alberta Chaos. Game 1 will be Saturday July 29 at 5 pm at the Memorial Arena with Game 2 running Sunday morning at 11 am at the Memorial Arena. Two wins will secure Cranbrook a spot in the Alberta Lacrosse Provincial Championship, held in Innisfail over the August long weekend as the local squad looks to repeat as gold medalists.

The season will not end in Alberta this year however, as the Canadian Lacrosse Association has revived the MacDonald Cup — the Western Canadian Jr B2 Championship. After being on hold for over 20 years, Cranbrook is pushing to secure the first win in the Cups resurgence. The invite-only tournament will pit eight teams against each other — two from Vancouver Island, three from the Lower Mainland, one from Calgary, one from Swift Current, and Cranbrook — where the champion will be crowned after five games in five days.

The Blackwolves are hoping for a full house July 29-30 at Cranbrook’s Memorial Arena, and would love some added support from all fans and locals in the area. Admission is by donation, and there will be a beer garden and concession running all game long. Lacrosse is an amazing spectator sport, with game flow and rules similar to hockey and basketball, and the product put forth by the Blackwolves is a sight to be seen.

Schedule for this weekends play off games:

• Saturday, July 29 5-7 pm

• Sunday, July 30 11-1 pm

• Sunday, July 30 5-7 pm (if needed)