Archive for the ‘Senior B’ Category

Outlaws325Today was the memorial service for an Outlaw team mate, Grant McLeod.  Grant passed away on September 23, 2013 at the age of 33.  Grant was the backbone of so many of the great Outlaw teams as he manned the nets for numerous Provincial Championships and two National Championships.  He was arguably the best box lacrosse goalie to ever come out of Alberta.  Grant’s resume speaks for itself.  He was the goalie on the following championship teams; 1998 First Nations Cup (Field), 1999 Founders Cup, 2000 Minto Cup, 2002 and 2007 Presidents Cup.

When I sit back and really reflect on Grant’s lacrosse career I am in awe of his accomplishments.  He was a gamer, he played hard and loved to compete.  He was one of several players that were able to play Junior A lacrosse in B.C. and was a member of the Burnaby Lakers Junior program that was so dominant in the late 1990’s into the eary 2000’s.  I was lucky enough to play with him in his youth when he was near his prime as a goalie.   He was the primary reason the Outlaws were finally able to win our first National Championship in 2002 when the Presidents Cup was played in Edmonton at the Bill Hunter Arena.  For so many years we could never break through at the National Championships.  There were some very lean years when we were cannon fodder for the opposition and then as the players returned from Junior A in BC and Ontario we gained the experience to finally compete and win.  Grant was one of those players.

I will never forget that final game that brought us the championship.  It was as if everything we had worked for came together in that final game.  No one was going to stop us and Grant was as solid as I have ever seen him in my life.  We played the Snye Warriors in the finals and Grant faced a total of 44 shots and giving up only 4 goals as we won the game 12 – 4.  That team was special and Grant’s play during that tournament was exceptional.  I can still remember sitting in our dressing room after the game sharing our personal thoughts on winning that championship.   It was one of the highlights of my lacrosse career, partially because we had won and partially because I had won it with a great group of Edmonton lacrosse players.

At the memorial service I had the opportunity to connect with a lot of team mates that I have not seen in a long time.  The room was full of a who’s who of Edmonton lacrosse.  Almost all of us are retired from our playing days.  We laughed and joked about the Grant McLeod we knew.  The one who would fire balls at you if you scored on him in warmup, the one that would slam his wooden goalie stick on the opposing team if they got too close to the crease, the one that would scream at you if you were not prepared to play, the one that would create a little havoc at the International Hotel in Calgary and the one that would never back down from a tough shooter.  Grant could be a pain in the butt at times, but when there was a big game to play he was the one we wanted in the net.  Still makes me smile to remember his escapades.

He was so young with so much life to live.

(Thanks to Mike Ricketts for the photos)

The Spruce Grove Slash beat the Onondaga Redhawks 16 – 9  in round robin action at the 2012 Senior B National Championships.  The game was bordering on violent as many of the Redhawks’ defenders were using the traditional wood stick as blunt force objects.  There were some crazy slashes being handed out and the Redhawks spent the majority of the first period in the penalty box.  The Slash made them pay for the mistakes and they were led by Vimy Lacrosse’s Jimmy Quinlan.  The Slash are in a great spot to make to the Championship game, but two big games against St. Regis and St. Catherines are remaining on the schedule.  If you have some time make the drive out to Spruce Grove to catch some action.  Here is some game video from last night’s game.

The Spruce Grove Slash will be hosting the Senior B National Championships from August 27th to September 2nd.  The best Senior B teams will be converging on Spruce Grove for the right to hoist the Presidents Cup.  There will be some great talent at the event with teams loading up with some quality NLL players.  The Slash recently added Jamie Shewchuk, Ben Prepchuk and Jimmy Quinlan to their roster.  Bringing in top names has always been the norm for the tournament and the Slash will be riding these stars for a chance to bring the Cup back to Alberta.  Check out Jimmy Quinlan (#72 Gold) in the video as he suited up for his first game with the Slash a couple of weeks ago.

Ten years ago the Edmonton Outlaws won their first Senior B National Championship while hosting the tournament at Bill Hunter Arena.    In 2007, the team won its second National Championship in Owen Sound.  I was part of both teams, unfortunately I was unable to attend the final tournament in Owen Sound, only being able to play through the Alberta playoffs. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to play for the Outlaws for many years and share the floor with some amazing homegrown talent.

The Outlaws held an informal Ten Year Anniversary party last night and it was a great chance to bring together a group of great friends and have them meet up with the new Outlaws team.  There are some players that are playing with the Outlaws that are still bridging the gap between the original members and the new generation.  Stu Sterparn and Phil Smyth are two of those players working on and off the floor to keep the Outlaws tradition strong.

It is mind boggling to look back at all the years that I personally was involved with the team and list all the phenomenal players that were not only excellent players in Alberta, but also made a huge impact in Canadian lacrosse.  Jamey Bowen was one of the best lacrosse players that I had ever seen in my life.   He played for the Edmonton Rush, Junior A and Senior A in BC and Team Canada Field.  Jimmy Quinlan, current Captain of the Edmonton Rush, played Junior A in BC and Ontario, Senior A in BC, and played for the Toronto Rock.  Ben Prepchuk, another skilled offensive player, played Junior A and Senior A in BC, played in the NLL for Calgary and Colorado and scored over 250 points in the NLL.  Darren Hillier, Chris Stachniak, Devon Wray, all NLL players.  A multitude of players  had experience in the BC Junior A league, including Brian Broks, Colin Sherbanuk and Grant McLeod.  Others such as Dan Bostrom and Dave McCrimmon had Senior A experience from BC.  I am sure I am missing some other players and I apologize in advance to my former team mates for the oversight.  The Outlaws team was so strong because so many of our players had gained invaluable experience in other leagues outside of Alberta.  They had watched and been around the best box lacrosse players in the world and  brought that experience back to the Outlaws.

Another interesting point about the members of the Outlaws team was their youth lacrosse.  The older players on the Outlaws had a connection to the Gold Bar Miners, the organization created by Tom McCaskill.  I was raised in Sherwood Park, but there were no teams in the Park in the late 1970s so players had to play with the kids from Gold Bar.  A large number of the next generation of Outlaws also came from this Southeast part of Edmonton.  The game of lacrosse was entrenched in this part of Edmonton and young kids in the area were picking up the game.  Another strong component of the Outlaws came from Sherwood Park.  Many of these players were born in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  There was also a contingent of players that came from the Warriors program.  Virtually all the players on the Outlaws had a connection with the Junior or Senior Miners program that was being run by AJ Jomha.  In retrospect the key to so many of these players excelling in the game was due to the coaches that were involved with them and provided them with opportunities to grow in the game.  The Outlaws team was not comprised of players from all across the city.  They came from areas of the city where people cared about the game and pushed them to get better.  Lacrosse was far from a main street sport in the 1980s and 90s.  The sport was being played due to the incredible work of parent volunteers and coaches.  Many of the Outlaws benefited from those efforts.

There is no doubt that the Outlaws were a hated team in Alberta during its heyday.  We were brash, cocky, mouthy and played with a swagger.  We had some great trash talkers and made sure other teams were well aware of who we were.  At times we were not very good sports and we would be relentless on the opposition.   However, when we made it to the national stage we always faltered.   The swagger was absent when we matched up against the best in Ontario and BC.  We were confident in Alberta, but in 2002 it finally came together at the Championships.  The weight was lifted for many of us that struggled so mightily in previous years.   Our success in 2002 and later in 2007 was due to the influx of talent that had been out of the province and came back home to help the Outlaws win.  There is no doubt that the experience those players brought back made the biggest difference for us.

I enjoyed my playing and coaching days with the Outlaws.  We had some great times and there are so many other players that I did not mention that made huge contributions to our success.  I remember a true competitor, Matt Dickerson, who left us too early.  I remember the guts and determination of so many individuals, that played only for the love of the game.  I remember the support staff, Raina, Maria and Ernie that were always there for assistance.  I remember the trips across the country to play this great sport.  I remember how excited I was to finally win the trophy and celebrate with so many friends.

I am very proud to have played for the Outlaws.  I learned so much about the game during my tenure with the team and had some unbelievable times.  Would not trade it for anything in the world!  Thank you Outlaws.

I was able to catch the last period of the Edmonton Outlaws and Spruce Grove Slash Senior B game on Saturday.  There were some familiar faces and some new faces in the lineup as the game went into OT and ended in a 12-12 tie.  Dave Pym was not on the Outlaws bench as he was coaching the Roughnecks in their playoff game.  As with every senior game I have ever been involved with the intensity was high and the discipline was low.  There were some good plays and there were some balls being dropped.  The referees were getting yelled at and there were a couple of unruly fans near where I was sitting.  Everything you love about Senior B lacrosse in Alberta.  I also heard through the rumor mill that the Outlaws are trying to get Jimmy Quinlan on their roster.  That would definitely add some interest to the league.  You never know, the season is early.

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I caught a couple of periods of the Edmonton Outlaws Senior B team taking on the Edmonton Warriors Junior B team in an exhibition game on Sunday night.  The Warriors had about 27 players dressed and in typical Outlaws fashion there was almost a full roster.  Dave Pym, Head Coach of the Calgary Roughnecks, was behind the bench for the Outlaws.  He has assumed head coaching duties for the Outlaws this season.  Let’s hope he brings them back to respectability.

Not a highly skilled game with an average tempo.  I have never been a big fan of the Seniors playing the Juniors.  It just does not make sense having young kids playing against men.  I have played as an Outlaw for several years and the games can degenerate into chaos.  The Outlaws are expected to win and when things start going bad for them then the games gets out of hand.  The young kids are trying to prove they can play with the men, which leads to altercations.  Even in this game, with nothing at stake there was some rough play and a fight in just the two periods that I watched.

The Warriors should end up with a solid team this year again with some good returning players.  The Outlaws have some work to do, but I know several players were not in the lineup on Sunday.  The biggest challenge for the Outlaws is getting into game shape.  If they can get their legs under them quickly it should make a difference during the season.  If Pym has them playing pressure defense then they will have to get in shape fast.

Some highlights of the game are here.

2007 Presidents Cup

The Edmonton Outlaws Senior B Lacrosse Club is preparing to start a new season.  The Outlaws have a great lacrosse history in Alberta lacrosse winning several provincial championships and two National Championships.  As a player and coach for the team I enjoyed a lot of success with the team.  We were not always the most gracious winners and created many enemies in Alberta lacrosse, but our swagger enabled us to finally win the big one after experiencing numerous setbacks in previous championships.  I will always treasure those years with that core group of guys.  The team has changed dramatically over the past few years, but there are still some players from the glory years.  One of them, Stu Sterparn, has provided us with an outlook for this year’s season.

Another lacrosse season is upon us and The Edmonton Outlaws are finally ready to climb out of the basement and go back to the promised land.  Spending the last 2 seasons near the bottom of the pile was quite humbling for the one time unstoppable force.  With the changing of the guard complete and the team youthful again, look out for the Alberta lacrosse dynasty to be back on top where they had been so comfortable for the 10 previous years.  Adding 7 top end Jr A players is always a good start. The team added Kevin Wallin (1st overall pick) AJ Pellis, Patrick William, all from the Miners. We also got DJ Giacobbo, Josh Burge from the Eclipse.  Adding Mark Lawerence(Victoria Jr Shamrocks) and Simon Giourmetakis (Minto Cup winning Coquitlam Adanacs) will also be a huge boost to the team. Four very good Junior B players; Spencer Stobbe, Jordan Renaud (Edm Warriors), Cale Allen (Crude) and Shawn Gallant (Ft Sask) will bring more youth.  The ‘laws have also added a new bench boss with Dave Pym the head coach of the Calgary Roughnecks (NLL) taking the wheel.  A new youthful team, a new dynamic coach, look out Canada as the Alberta rep for the Presidents Cup this year should look very familiar.