Archive for the ‘RMLL’ Category

As a coach in the Alberta Junior A Lacrosse League I really have no idea of the the overall mandate of the league.  The Junior A League plays under the governance of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) and the RMLL has a Mission Statement that reads as follows:

To govern and promote Alberta amateur post midget box lacrosse and provide continual participant development opportunities for the pursuit of excellence and enjoyment while fostering fair play, sportsmanship and a general community spirit among our Members, Members of Members and supporters.

I am a second year coach in the league and I have looked online to see if there is something published about the overall vision of the Alberta Junior A Lacrosse League, but I have not found anything.  Something might exist in writing, but I have not seen it.

The reason I am trying to figure this out is because the Alberta Junior A Lacrosse League is at a crossroads with the proposed changes in the Minto Cup formula.  The way things are going, Alberta is now going to have to play a Western Final against BC to gain access to the Minto Cup Championship against Ontario.  This change has partially occurred due to Alberta’s continued failure to compete at the Minto Cup for the past 10 years.  Our path to the Minto Cup looks to be much harder.

For me, the mandate of the Junior A League is to provide box lacrosse players in Alberta an opportunity to develop and play at the highest level of lacrosse at the Junior age level.  I think, however, the mandate is clouded as I think many people in the game believe that the mandate is to win games and challenge for the Minto Cup.  Yes, that is the end goal, but when teams focus primarily on the end result they forget about the process.  Alberta can not challenge for the Minto Cup until our development system in minor lacrosse can produce the depth of talent required to support the four teams in the Province.  This has to change or Alberta will never be able to compete at the National level.  As teams, we are so intent on protecting our turf and getting upset with each other, we can not look to the long term future of making the game stronger for everyone.  I understand the desire to win games and beat the other team.  That is competition.  But there are some aspects of the management of the game that should change.

One primary thing that could change is the 50 Man Protected List that each team is allowed to carry.  Cut that down to a 35 man list that contains a 25 man roster and a team’s top 10 prospects.  If a player is not on the 35 man list then he is free to play where he likes in Alberta.  This allows the possibility that a player that can not make one team can play for another team and will develop.  The entire league benefits as the league gets stronger.  If a team wishes to add a free agent to their protected list they need to sign that player.  They can not just add him.  Teams need to market their team and explain what their program is willing to offer the player.  This adds accountability to each team to improve its overall program to attract players to the organization.

Get rid of the draft.  Add players by getting them to come to tryout for a Junior A team because they love what teams are providing.  The draft makes the player a hostage and then he is added to the 50 man list with the possibility of never being able to go to another team.  Since each team would only be able to sign 35 players, then players will know where they fit on the depth chart and where they may possibly have the best opportunity to play.

Create vertical alignment from Junior A to Mini Tyke.  Create a community lacrosse system that shows young players that as they move through the system there is a Junior B and a Junior A team in their community that they can play for.  Then the coaching will trickle down because coaches know the end result is a lacrosse program built on tradition that will carry on.  Junior A programs will be more willing to give back and help minor programs because the end result is a stronger feeder system into Junior lacrosse.

Allow Alberta players to go to BC and Ontario to play.  There will always be restrictions on imports so BC and Ontario teams will not load up on Alberta players.  They already have a deep talent pool to choose from.  Let our Alberta players go there if it helps them improve as a player.  Alberta Junior A teams should be in the business of helping Junior A lacrosse players develop their skills to be the best player they can be.  If that means going to BC or Ontario then that should be allowed.  Protectionism only curtails our competitiveness because it does not force us to make our system better.  Since we know we can keep every single Alberta player in our province, we do not make the necessary improvements to create better teams and better organizations.  If BC and Ontario can offer players a stronger league and competition I do not believe I have the right to stop a player from going.  I think my focus should be getting my league better so players are more willing to stay then leave.  I think we are on the right track with this, but still have a lot of work to do.

These are my thoughts.  I am not trying to bash anyone.  I am proposing my changes to stimulate conversation to see what we can do to improve Junior A Lacrosse in Alberta.

It was a great season that ended a little too early.  The Titans Junior B team had a good run, winning the North Division before meeting a very strong and physical Calgary Mounties team.  The youth of the Titans showed as the team did not maintain the composure and discipline required to win a championship.  The energy and desire was clearly evident, but the pressure the Mounties put on the Titans was too much.  The result should not lessen the accomplishments of the Titans team.  The strides the team made this year was remarkable and was a testament to the plan that was put forward a few years ago by Russ Sheppard.  It would have been unbelievable to have the opportunity to travel to Six Nations for the National Championships, but it was not to be.

As one of the coaches of the team, I am extremely proud of the players and how hard they worked this year.  Box lacrosse is one of the toughest sports to play.  It is a sport that pushes a person physically and mentally.  There is a fine line between a legal and illegal play, making the game almost controlled chaos.  There is no place to hide in the game, as you need to go to the tough areas inside to penetrate the defence.  The game is played in stifling heat and when I looked at the players at the end of the game yesterday, I saw exhaustion and pain.  You need to be a true warrior to play the game and the Titans players are warriors.  They battled, they played their hearts out and they cared.  You cannot ask for more.

It was a tough ending, not just because the team lost, but because for a few that was their last game of junior lacrosse.  I could see the disappointment and tears in their faces.  For others, other things in life will pull them from the game.   And there will be others that move on to other lacrosse teams.  For me, it was emotionally difficult.  The ups and downs of the game are difficult to handle at times and even though I have coached for many years, I get attached to the players.  I wanted the kids to be successful and not reaching our target is heart breaking.

Thank you to all the players, the parents, the fans, the team staff and all those in the Titans organization that made this season successful.  There are a lot of people around the team that do so much to help the kids have a great season and your quiet work is deeply appreciated by the entire team.  Thank you for allowing me to work with your sons, it is always a treat to work with good lacrosse players and quality young men.

Last night the Sherwood Park Titans defeated the St. Albert Crude to take the first round of the RMLL Junior B playoffs.  The Titans swept the best of three series in two games.  The first game was a 12 – 3 victory and last night was a 10 – 4 win.  Both games were physical affairs with last night being an extremely rough game.  There is very little love between the two teams and the Crude play a hard hitting brand of lacrosse.  They are led by Erik Turner, a Vimy Lacrosse alum and a current lacrosse player at Cornell University.  Of the seven goals that the Crude scored in the series he was in on six of them with 3 goals and 3 assists.  The Titans were able to limit the damage that Turner was able to do and that was a key part of the series victory.  The Titans success in the series was due to the excellent team defense and goaltending that enabled the ball to get to the hands of the offense.  It was a true team effort.

This was the first playoff series win for the Titans in a few years and it was nice to see the kids get rewarded for their hard work and dedication throughout the season.  There have been some lean years so last night`s win was huge for the organization.  The next step is the semi-finals either against Red Deer or Saskatoon.  What ever the opponent the Titans know the series will be difficult, and if not prepared to play, the season could be over fast.  It has been a great ride so far and now the team is just trying to extend the season a little bit longer.  The series win was awesome, but the players are far from satisfied.  Looking forward to more playoff action next weekend.

The Sherwood Park Titans Junior B team has been slow out of the gate, but is starting to pick up some steam.  The record for the team is 2 -3 -1 with four of the first six games being played against a strong Saskatoon SWAT team.  This past weekend the SWAT visited Sherwood Park where the Titans got a victory and a tie.  SWAT is a big and physical team that have some very good athletic players on the offensive end.  In the first game the Titans manhandled a tired SWAT team 14 – 5, but the second day SWAT rose to the challenge and scored two late goals to earn the 10 – 10 tie.

There is definitely a lot of work ahead for the Titans as they still need to come together as a team. With recent additions Darren Zwack and Matt Pick the team is almost all back together.  There are still one or two missing pieces that need to be added to make this team more competitive.  For the most part, there has been progress, but more work is required, specifically in our offensive sets.

On the team there are nine current and former Vimy Lacrosse students.  Three other Vimy students are currently affiliated with the team. It’s great to see the students growing as lacrosse players and making significant contributions to the Titans team.

Here are some brief highlights from our game against the SWAT from this past Sunday.

Good day yesterday as the Sherwood Park Titans won their opening game of the Junior B Season and then the team went to the Saddledome in Calgary to watch the Edmonton Rush stun the Calgary Roughnecks in the opening playoff game.  The team had great seats by the Rush bench and the boys were more than willing to stir the pro-Calgary crown up.  As the game got out of hand on the Roughnecks the Titans players were there to high five, yell scream and just fist pump every positive play by the Rush.  Not to mention they yelled every time Jimmy Quinlan made a play on the floor.  They were pretty pumped up when he scored and not only did he score, but he had to pat the head of the Roughnecks player as he raised his arms in celebration.  Click here to see the goal and the celebration.  Typical Jimmy Quinlan celebration.  Would not expect anything less than that.

It was a great day for Jimmy as he and his wife welcomed a new daughter into the world and then he went down and beat the Roughnecks.  There had to be a lot of adrenaline in the body and he played a great game at both ends of the floor.  A person can go to a lot of sporting events and not see a great game and then there is one game that is magical.  This was one of those games.  The Rush, having been beat handily by the Roughnecks all season, come in and steal one.  Everything that made the Roughnecks good suddenly was lost.  Their goaltending was below average and their offence was off target.  The calm they displayed during the season was replaced with fear.  The entire Roughnecks were rattled and in the end it led to their downfall.

Here is some video of Jimmy on defence and some of the Titans players whooping it up in the stands.

The Edmonton Warriors met the Saskatoon SWAT on the weekend in Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Junior B action.  The game was a close one with the Warriors winning 9 – 8.  Click here to read the gamesheet.  I was able to catch the first period and the game was fast.  I was impressed with the energy the Saskatoon team played with considering it was their second game of the day.  They have a couple of skilled players able to move extremely well on the floor.  Below are some highlights from the first period.