This past weekend both of the Juan De Fuca (JDF) Novice A teams attended the Bellie Bowl in New Westminister. The Bellie Bowl has always been a favourite amongst both lacrosse players and parents. The coordinators do a fabulous job. They present 3 player of the game awards to each team every game so that the end of the tournament has recognized each player. It is not every day that you have a chance to play on a wooden floor like the one in Queens Park Arena.
Juan de Fuca is a large association with 419 players registered for the 2015 box lacrosse season. In the novice division there are 89 players making up 5 teams (2 A and 3 B). Both JDF teams attended the Bellie Bowl this year.
Doug Quested is the head coach for Novice A #1 with Dan Pawluk, Trace Gale and James Park. Novice A #2 is coached by ex Shamrock greats Fredi Jenner and Grant Hamilton, Senior Shamrocks manager Rod Wade and Sean Knoles who along with his wife Lisa sponsor the association, team and players through their company Service Master.
Coach Fred Jenner addressing his team
Game One for Novice A #1 was played against Okotoks. JDF built an early lead and withstood a bit of a charge by Alberta in the third and put in a couple of late goals to pull away and win 10-5. Game one, of the Bellie Bowl for JDF Novice #2 was playing the host team. Sean Knoles said “the boys were jumping off the walls they were so excited after they took down the New West team 7-1”. “It was a great start to the tournament for the boys”.
It is frustrating at times for Vancouver Island teams to go to a mainland tournament and find themselves playing other teams that you play multiple times at home. Coaches hope they have an easier draw in the round robin and move on to play the more challenging teams in the cross over semi final and final games. This years schedule worked out so that bright and early the next morning both JDF teams were set to go head to head. Fredi Jenner is known for his pre and post game inspirational speeches. Sean Knoles said ” I find myself at times so into his pre and post game takes that I want to play. I want to absorb the energy that he gives off”. JDF Novice A #2 was ready to go head to head with their arch nemesis (I say this in jest as many of the boys from each team are friends).
Unfortunately even with the words of wisdom from their great leader JDF #2 could not find their legs and were taken down by a score of 5-0 by JDF# 1. Coach Quested (JDF#1) said that ” This was one of our best games of the year”. “We’ve had a number of close games against JDF #2 this season”. “We challenged our boys to win the loose ball battle and we did”! “Ben Pawluk had a hat trick and Angus Snow was phenomenal in net with a shutout”!
Game 3 for JDF #1 JDF # was a 16-0 blowout against Abbotsford. This was a great game for the first year players with goals from several players. Kman Sawyer had 2, and 1 each from Dylan Anderson, Max Lavoie and Tyler York and Grady Sluggett. It was off to the semi finals for this team. They had finished first in their round robin and we set to face Delta for the opportunity to play for gold.
Game three for JDF #2 was against the team from Delta. “Sean Knoles shared that “Fred’s pregame talk was about shaking off a loss and moving forward”. The team played very hard with players Luca, jet and Ryan stepping up to lead the ream and set a great example of what hard work can do”. They won 6-0 and goalie Grayson had the first shut out of the tournament. With two wins and a loss they were sitting in second place in their pool and had to be up bright and early to play Okotoks.
Sunday mornings game for JDF#1 was a “fantastic team game” said coach Quested. It was our best ball movement of the season”. “The highlights of the 12-1 win over Delta was Carter’s 4th goal of the game where he switched hands off a beautiful pick and roll and scored with his opposite hand”. “The first year players put on a power play clinic by running a tic, tac, toe passing play that led to a goal”. Team #1 had earned a spot in the gold medal matchup!
JDF #2’s 7:30 am had coached Jenner and Hamilton sharing with the team their experience playing on the wooden floor as Victoria Shamrocks. How exciting it must have been for the team to play on the same floor as many lacrosse greats including their own coaches. It was a tough hard fought game against Delta. “They scored first and we played catch up for most of the game” shared Sean. Goals from Tore, Dawson, Ryan, Luca and Ollie kept us in the game”. “Penalties tried their best to keep us out”. “The boys played well and we squeaked out a 6-5 win to move us into the Gold medal game”.
Both of the JDF teams were set to go head to head once again. They had met in the gold medal final at the Travis Bateman Tournament in May with Team #1 winning by one goal so JDF#2 was looking forward to the rematch.
Gold Medal game through the eyes of the coaches
JDF #2 Sean Knoles: “The Gold Medal game was a hard fought event as we went back and forth against a strong JDF #1 team”. “We ended the third period tied and for the first time for many of the boys we were going into sudden death OT”. “At about the three minute mark we took a 5 min penalty and spent the rest of our game short handed”. “Jett ran a beautiful ball up on his own and hit the cross bar”. “In the end the short man couldn’t hold off the game winning goal”. “The boys were devastated after trying so hard”. “Immediately the coaching staff stepped in and assured the boys they had played the best game they could have”.
Coach Quested: “Intense game”! “JDF #2 worked hard to shut down our top scorers and they did a good job”. “They had a great game plan”. “We struggled to penetrate their defence, but kept working on our movement and had some great chances turned away by their goalie, Grayson Manning”. It was a 4-3 Final for JDF#1
“Players of note: Keegan Phillips played phenomenal shut down D on their best player”. “Our captain, Ryan Parker, played through the flu to score a goal and vacuum up loose balls”. The game was won in Sudden Death Overtime by lightning fast Kurtis Guilbault who scored his third goal of the game on a gorgeous transition breakaway”.
I spoke with coach Fred Jenner about his team this year. Fred told me that” we have 16 kids that want to grow as athletes and get better every single shift, every single period and every single game”. “This is why we have such an amazing TEAM”! “All of the players are the keys to our success”. “We asked the kids in the final game to forget all about the other times we have played the other JDF team and to just go out there and have fun”. “Go out there smile at them and let them know they’re going to have to bring their best game ever to beat us today”. “This is the game when you look to the player to the left of you, the player to the right of you and tell them that you have their back and that you are going to do everything you can for this team to have out best game ever as a team”.
I feel that the really story about what happened at this tournament is what happened after the game, after the medal ceremonies and the handshake. The real story is what happened outside the arena when it was time for the players to retreat to their dressing rooms after the game. Both teams gathered outside and took pictures. Not the typical picture that a team would take after a medal game. These two JDF teams who battle each other during the season and at various tournaments took a picture of both teams together. This is a testament to the coaches for making this game about friendship as well as competition. It is about leaving the game on the floor and finding common ground in this wonderful sport called lacrosse.