One dramatic period robbed the Cowichan Valley Thunder of a brilliant chance to bring home the gold medal from the provincial peewee A2 lacrosse championships last week.
After cruising through pool play with two wins and a tie, the Thunder jumped out to a 5-1 first-period lead over Ridge Meadows in the crossover semifinal. Everything went off the rails, however, when Josh Macdonald was hit by a shot just above the area covered by his kidney pads. Macdonald collapsed, then got back up and staggered to the bench. When his dad and head coach, Gord, removed Josh’s helmet, Josh started coughing up blood.
The Cowichan coaches asked the referees to halt the game while Josh was tended to, but there is no rule requiring play to be stopped in such a situation, and even as arena medics, nurses and, eventually paramedics, gathered on the bench – eight additional adults in total – the game kept going.
In the confusion, and with their coaches tending to their injured teammate, the frustrated Cowichan players took a bunch of penalties, and Ridge Meadows was able to pull even with four unanswered goals in the second period, then went ahead with three quick goals in the third. The Thunder clawed back and managed to tie the score at 8-8 on a goal by Dawson Sears with just over four minutes left Dawson Elzinga gave the Thunder the lead two minutes and 20 seconds into the first overtime, but Ridge Meadows tied it up late in the first extra frame, then scored the only goal of the sudden-death second overtime.
“It was an intense game for sure,” Gord Macdonald said. “It was very emotional for those kids after they fought back
in the third to tie it up. It was just that second period that killed us. We couldn’t stop getting penalties. With all the kids, coaches and eight other people on the bench, it was total chaos.”
Elzinga finished the game with three goals, while Sears scored twice and added three assists. Josh Macdonald had a goal and a helper before his injury. Cole Cook had a goal and an assist, Kaelem Gray added a single goal, Joshua Wong had two assists, and Dominic Adelborg and Keegan Martin each had one helper.
The Thunder appealed the result of the semifinal, but because there is no rule requiring games to be stopped under those circumstances, they were unsuccessful and went on to the bronze medal game, where they edged North Shore 6-5. That was little consolation for a team that seemed destined to win gold “I’ve seen them more excited about winning an exhibition game than they were about that game because they knew they were the best team there,” Macdonald said.
Jacob McCluskey scored twice in the bronze-medal game and Luke Ellison had a goal and an assist. Sears, Gray and Kyler Smith had single goals, and Elzinga and Josh Macdonald – back in action the day after his injury – each had one assist.
In round-robin play, the Thunder beat Abbotsford 9-6 and Vancouver 9-4 and tied North Shore 8-8. “We had some close scores, but we outshot the other teams by about four times as much,” Macdonald noted.
This year’s peewee A2 team was about half first-year and half second-year players, so there’s a good chance the team could be back in contention in 2016.
“A lot of our first-years are good little players,” Macdonald said. “So next year they’ll be the superstars of the league.”