The Cowichan Thunder finished just short of the podium at the bantam B box lacrosse championships in North Saanich this past weekend.
The Island champion Thunder went undefeated through the round robin before running into trouble in the playoffs, but the top-four result was still a phenomenal finish for the Cowichan team.
“I could not be more impressed with the efforts and commitment from this 17-player team and the parents who supported the coaching staff’s decisions on and off the floor,” head coach Dan Olson said. “The team had a slow start but worked hard all season to earn a gold medal at the Comox tournament in May and winning the Island championship earlier this month.”
Captain Adam Klassen led the way in the tournament opener, scoring seven times to earn game MVP honours as Cowichan trounced Port Moody 9-3. Blaise Bennefield and Logan Olson rounded out the scoring for Cowichan.
Next up for the Thunder was a tough Sunshine Coast Rapids team, which Cowichan edged 6-5, with offensive contributions from Olson, Klassen, Tayden Ross, Colton Gron and Owen Papineau.
Cowichan closed out pool play early Saturday afternoon by defeating Langley 5-3 in the Battle of the Thunder, with Klassen scoring twice in the last few minutes of regulation to put his team ahead and add some insurance.
As the top team in Pool B, Cowichan crossed over to face the Penticton Heat, who finished second in Pool A, in the semifinal. Still exhausted from their tight, physical game against Langley just a few hours earlier, the Thunder players didn’t have enough steam to keep playing the way they had in the round robin, and lost 6-4.
The bronze medal battle on Sunday was a rematch with the Sunshine Coast Rapids, and this time it was Sunshine Coast who came out on top, 3-2 in a low-scoring nail-biter. Gron and Olson both scored and assisted on each other’s goals.
“The energy and enthusiasm of these 13- and 14-years-olds to earn a spot at the B.C. provincials was what minor box lacrosse is all about,” coach Olson said. “I am very proud of what this team accomplished this season and look forward to what next year has in store for them.”
Player of the Game awards went to Klassen, Logan Olson, Brett Beauchamp, Gron and Klassen again. Klassen was named to the tournament all-star team, and Olson received the Warrior Fair Play Award, which goes to a player on each team who exemplifies fair play, puts forward a great effort, and plays the game with integrity all season.
Sponsors who helped make the bantam B Thunder’s season a success included ALJAQ Contracting, Bone Consulting, Rack City, South Cowichan Storage, CM Bookkeeping, Rigid Concrete, Loft Salon, Ravenstone and Valentine Upholstery.