This is not a story about scrappy underdogs overcoming the odds to win a championship.
It is the story of scrappy underdogs having a great time and coming together as a team, even as they lost every game they played in a lacrosse tournament in Richmond last weekend.
“The team bonded this weekend,” Cowichan Valley midget A Thunder head coach Traves Black said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen a team have so much fun. I’ve never seen a team so loose. It was phenomenal.”
The Thunder went to the tournament with just 12 players and one call-up from bantam. Of their four games, they finished one with only nine healthy runners, and two with only eight still on their feet.
The team has been slotted in the midget A1 division, but Black feels they belong in A2, so they knew they were outmatched going into the tournament.
“The phrase I used with the kids is that we were featherweights fighting in the heavyweight class,” the coach said. “We’re not an A1 team, and we played two of the top teams from the Mainland, and a Calgary team.”
Nevertheless, the Thunder managed to hold their own, at least for a time, in each game.
“Every game, we were in it up to the second period, when we ran out of steam,” Black said.
The Thunder were outshot by about 250 to 90 over the weekend, and 78-30 in the semifinal game alone. Goalie Colin Jeffrey was outstanding, earning team MVP honours for the weekend and raising his stock heading toward the upcoming Team BC camp.
“He faced a minimum of 60 shots a game,” Black pointed out. “Even the other coaches were saying what a stud goalie he was. If he wasn’t like that the scores would have been in the 20s.”
Nathan Clark will join Jeffrey at the Team BC camp, while Brody Black was invited but had to bow out due to injury. Jeffrey, Clark, Brody Black, Hunter Hieta and Brady Williams have also been named to the Island team for the BC Summer Games in July.
Clark has made huge strides this season, his coach said.
“He’s the most improved player on the team from the start of the season to now,” Traves Black said, praising Clark’s willingness to get involved in physical play. “The games against Mission and Calgary, I haven’t seen games like that in a long time; it was old-fashioned rock ‘em, sock ‘em lacrosse. The kids stuck together.”
Miles Brooks stepped up when captain Dawson Webb incurred a suspension at the Richmond tournament.
“He was giving inspirational speeches on the bench,” Black recalled. “This kid kept the team mood light. Before one of the games, he was trying to teach me how to dance.”
The Thunder lost their opening game of the tournament 7-3 to Mission. Clark scored twice and Hieta once, while Brody Black had two assists, and Jack Sanderson and Kurtis Smith each had one helper.
Clark again scored twice in Cowichan’s second game, an 11-2 loss to Delta. Rhys Mazurenko recorded one assist.
The Thunder’s closest game was a 7-4 defeat by the Calgary entry. Hieta had a pair of goals, and Black and Smith added one each. Brooks, Webb, Mazurenko and call-up Logan Hammerer had assists.
Cowichan closed out the tournament with an 11-5 loss to Delta in the semifinal. Black had a pair of goals, and Spencer, Smith and Hieta potted one apiece. Clark, Black, Baxter and Mazurenko had assists.
The Thunder split their last two games on the Island prior to the Mainland tournament. Black scored all the Cowichan goals in a 4-3 loss to Juan de Fuca at Kerry Park Arena on May 15. Spencer, Webb, Hieta and Smith recorded helpers.
Spencer had a hat trick and Black added two more in an 8-3 win over JDF #2 at Fuller Lake Arena on May 18.
Clark, Mazurenko and Webb also scored, while Sanderson had two assists. Smith, Webb, Clark, Black, Hieta, Williams, Mazurenko, Spencer and Jeffrey had one assist apiece.