Given a second chance to beat an old Island rival at the provincial championships in Fort St. John last weekend, the peewee B Cowichan Thunder made the best of it, and as a result brought home the B.C. title banner.
Cowichan’s only loss in the round robin was a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Juan de Fuca, but when the teams met again in the provincial final, the Thunder got their revenge, beating the Whalers 9-3.
“Our goal was to win the provincials, and the team peaked at the right time, winning 14 of our last 15 games,” Cowichan head coach Chris Claxton said. “It was fitting to see the top two teams from the Island go at it again, with a rivalry that was getting comparable to the Cowichan/JDF midget A1 teams a few years back.
“For the final game we adopted the old saying, ‘No quit in blue’. Even having to play JDF in the gold game after being beaten 7-3 two days earlier it didn’t faze the boys. They were so focused on moving forward and not looking back.”
The Thunder opened the tournament with an 11-4 drubbing of Ridge Meadows on Thursday, followed by the loss to JDF on Friday. They bounced back with a 14-4 win over Vanderhoof on Saturday morning, then doubled up on Nicola Valley 8-4 in the crossover semifinal that afternoon.
“We played really good lacrosse through the entire tournament,” Claxton said. “I took something from Lorne Winship while I was an assistant to him with my oldest son, where you have to treat provincials like a track meet and pace yourself. It paid off. We didn’t get too high or too low.”
Adam Klassen was named to the tournament all-star team, and Seth Plater was Cowichan’s recipient of the Warrior Fair Play Award.
Comox Valley ended up taking the bronze medal over Nicola Valley as teams from the Island swept the top three spots.
Fort St. John was a long way for the Island teams to travel, but it was for a good reason.
“The host association is in only its third year and they wanted to showcase lacrosse to the community,” Claxton related.
The location also made things interesting in that several families were rerouted through Alberta on their way home because of the many wildfires in the Interior.
Claxton was immensely proud of his players, and hopes the championship win helps grow the entire Cowichan Valley Lacrosse Association.
“Winning provincials is a hard thing to do; that’s what makes it so satisfying,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to develop players in all divisions and keep growing our numbers.”