The Rockyview Tier 2 junior B Rage held their inaugural Cochrane and Airdrie home openers on May 11 and 13 against the Calgary Wranglers and the Sylvan Lake Yetti.
The Rage, who up until this weekend only had one win, were boosted to three wins due to the fact that the Calgary Axemen Tier 3 franchise folded after it was unable to fill its roster. The two forfeited wins pushed the Rage’s record to 3-4 heading into their games with Calgary and Sylvan Lake.
It was a special night for one of the newest Tier 2 junior B clubs, as Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre was packed with family and friends. The game also featured player introductions as well as the chance for minor lacrosse teams to take part in a scrimmage during the intermission. In the team’s first home game of the season against the Wranglers, the Rage were able to bounce back and avenge an early season 10-2 loss at the hands of the very same Wranglers by defeating them 9-8 in a tightly contested game. The game was tied after the first period at 4-4 and the Rage had 7-5 lead after two periods of play. The teams would trade goals but Rockyview never relinquished its lead holding onto a one goal victory.
“The boys played fantastic. We fielded a pretty good roster and the stars seemed to kind of align for us to win that game I’d say. A lot of things went into us winning that game … there’s a lot of fluctuation in a (Tier 2) roster and when we lost to them 10-2, we were short on runners, a couple of our better players couldn’t play and on top of all that, the game really should have been closer. They deserved their 10 goals, but we really should have scored six or seven,” said Rage head coach Kent Proctor.
“We had a lot of really good looks and the boys just couldn’t finish. I didn’t think we played that bad in that first game … so really the 10-2 score wasn’t representative of the first game. We applied some changes to the game plan for the second game, we fielded a full roster and totally played them differently and we had them on their heels most of the night. The boys played really, really well.”
The Rage had a day off before taking part in their Airdrie home opener, a game that did not go as smoothly for the new club. Sylvan Lake scored the game’s first three goals before Jacob Decker responded for Rockyview to make it 3-1. The Yettis would go on to score twice more in under a minute and three times before the end of the first period while only Zach Kosack was able to respond for the Rage during the flurry of goals, leaving the Rage with a 6-2 deficit. The second and third periods were much of the same, with Rockyview only scoring three more goals off the sticks of Josh Olsen, Nathan Lam and Jacob Berg, while the Yetti piled in nine more goals past goaltenders Reese Sellwood and Andrew Smollett.
“We played a real strong team in the Yetti. We knew we were going to be in tough and we were missing some of our key players. Our roster took a step back and the competition took a step forward,” Proctor said of the Sunday night game.
“And then we got into a ton of penalty trouble so that game was honestly really frustrating from a coaching and players perspective because we took so many penalties, we were killing penalties all night.”
The first half of the season is now finished for the Rage, as they take a 4-5 record into the May break with the two forfeited games in their back pocket. The Rage bench boss said there wasn’t much that surprised him over the first portion of the season.
“It went pretty much as expected. I thought we’d lose to the best teams in the league because that’s usually what happens to expansion teams when they play those top level teams. Given there’s a couple other expansion and weaker teams, I figured we’d be able to get six to eight wins this year and I believe we’re definitely going to achieve that,” Proctor said confidently.
“I’m not at all surprised as to where we’re at. I thought we could have beaten the (Olds) Stingers in the first game of the year, but it was our first game ever and we still took them to overtime (a 7-6 loss on April 13) and then we upset the Wranglers in our home opener, that was kind of the only one I didn’t expect.”
Proctor also added that there have been some players that have really stood out over the first half of the season while also some that surprised him with their play.
“Coming out of that first game, I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of our support players contributed more than I thought they would,” Proctor said.
“There are a couple players that I thought would be decent for us, after the first few games they’ve already taken the next step and have become really big contributors and leaders on the team. My three captains, Ryan Murray, Josh Olsen and Zach Kosack really display those qualities and are huge members of our team … that’s why they’re the captains.
The Rage will take the May break to rest before returning to action May 25 and 27 against Calgary Axemen Tier 2 team and the High River Heat.