Airdrie Knights win Alberta lacrosse championship
They were the bridesmaids last season, but the Airdrie Knights found what once eluded them and captured the Alberta Lacrosse Association’s (ALA) Senior B gold medal with a 12-7 win over the St. Albert Miners, Aug. 18.
After taking the first two games of the series, the Knights dropped game three 8-5, snapping a seven-game win streak dating back to the regular season. It wasn’t for a lack of scoring chances, as the team hit the post nine times, but an inability to capitalize.
Paired with a handful of questionable calls against them, it kept the Knights from sweeping another playoff series, but it wasn’t a game Head Coach Gareth Barley was too upset about.
“It’s tough to be critical because you can’t win all the games and you can’t sweep both playoff series,” he said.
“We had our opportunities and it gets frustrating when you’re getting those chances and not capitalizing on them.”
Game four was a different story. The Miners and the Knights played to a 4-4 tie to end the second period, but Airdrie blew the game wide open after that. The team scored eight goals in the final frame, five of which came on the penalty kill.
“It was a very good performance,” said Barley.
“The whole team played a very focused and committed game.”
The Knights were able to exact revenge on a team that has been one of their primary rivals all season. Last year, the Knights lost to the Miners in the ALA Sr. B championship. This year, the roles were reversed and the Knights were crowned the provincial champions.
“This is a good, sweet moment,” said Knight defenceman Ron Morash. “I consider them probably our toughest rival. The difference this year is we have quite a few new players and everyone is healthy.
“I’ve got to give them credit, they are a hell of a team. We knew we would be in for a battle and that’s exactly what it was. We had to dig deep and hold tough. It was just a great effort on both ends of the floor.”
However, the Knights’ season isn’t over yet. The team now heads to Spruce Grove for Nationals, Aug. 27 to Sept. 2. The seven-day tournament will pit them against the top Sr. B teams from across the country.
“It’s going to be a full week,” said Barley. “Every team has won its league, so there’s no taking nights off. We have two strong goalies and a very capable team. They have to believe in themselves and they have to come out to play. If we come out and play our game, we’ll fare well.”
-with files from Jeff Hansen