Fort St. John may have failed to win a single game at the 2017 B.C. PeeWee Box Lacrosse Provincial Championships last weekend, but an excellent final day of competition capped off four days of a tremendous tournament nevertheless.
The championships took place at the Pomeroy Sport Centre and North Peace Arena July 6 to 9, with the Juan de Fuca Whalers beating the Coquitlam Adanacs 4-3 in a nail-biting finish in the A1 Division.
The North Okanagan Legends beat the Kelowna Kodiaks 8-5 to win first place in the A2 Division, while Cowichan Valley defeated Juan de Fuca 9-3 for gold in the B Division
Organizers were thrilled with how the weekend went, as were the teams who participated in the event.
“It was just great, we couldn’t have asked for a better time and I’m so thankful to the 20 teams who came for making the trip,” said Annika Hedican, president of the Fort St. John Minor Lacrosse Association, which hosted the tournament in the city for the first time ever.
The hometown Fort St. John Grizzlies did not fair well in the tournament, failing to win a single match.
The team lost its first match against Comox Valley 15-3, while falling to Ridge Meadows #2 8-2, and Nicola Valley 7-0.
Either way, Hedican was proud of how the team performed.
“They played up a caliber, at B, when they are really a C level. They held Nicola Valley to only 3 goals through two periods on Saturday, and we were really happy with that.”
The final matches were very close.
In the A2 Division, Kelowna held a 1-0 lead for most of the first period before North Okanagan tied it up. These are two teams that play in the same league and entered the tournament at a series tie of two wins apiece. North Okanagan broke out to a 4-1 lead early in the second, and held the lead the rest of the game.
Lacrosse is traditionally a high scoring game, but the gold medal matches featured close-checking and relatively low scoring.
The A1 gold medal game was possibly the best match of the whole tournament, with more than 100 spectators filling the stands and standing around the glass at the ends of the field of play. Seventeen dads from Coquitlam made the trip, wearing special Adanacs flower shirts, and making their presence heard at every goal for, and every call that went against them.
The first period was scoreless, but the Juan de Fuca Whalers took a 3-1 lead heading into the third, eventually getting to 4-1 after a timeout by Coquitlam.
However, in a crazy turn of events, the Adanacs were able to score goals with seven and three minutes left in play. The Adanacs fired one last shot on goal with two seconds left, but goalie and tournament MVP Grayson Manning was able to kick it aside and his team was victorious.
“It’s kind of awesome, we worked so hard this year just to get this thing done,” Manning said.
“It’s great to be MVP, but it didn’t matter if I won MVP I’m just glad that we won.”
Manning’s coach, Doug Quested, echoed the joy and relief.
“It’s fantastic, we worked really hard all year, a lot of first-year kids on this team,” he said.
“Just a fantastic team to coach. They’ve always been really good but never quite achieved this level. “
Quested commended the hosts for running a well-organized tournament.
“This was a great place to come to play,” he said of Fort St. John.
The 2017 lacrosse season is now over. Hedican was happy with the local turnout and thinks the provincial tournament will help the game grow in Fort St. John moving forward.
Local referee Dustin Barry won the tournament’s Overall Warrior Fair Play Official award, while Hedican and Tammy Brown received the BC Lacrosse Volunteer Award.