Knights bring home national bronze medal
The Airdrie Knights beat the Spruce Grove Slash in the bronze medal final of the 2012 Canadian Lacrosse League President’s Cup national tournament to bring home the team’s first-ever medal in national play, Sept. 2.
The tournament, which was held in Spruce Grove from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, started with seven teams in total, with each playing against one another once to set up medal round seeding.
The Knights won two of six round-robin games, defeating the Tri-City Bandits and the Kahnawake Mohawks, but took losses to the other teams at the President’s Cup.
With very even competition and a number of teams with a 2-4 record heading into the medal games, it came down to goals for and against, which set the Knights up for a rubber match against the Spruce Grove club for the bronze medal.
“It was a redemption game for us,” said Head Coach Gareth Barley.
“We hadn’t lost two games in a row all year, we hadn’t lost a season series all year, but we went win-loss-win-loss to Spruce Grove.”
By the end of the first frame, the Knights found themselves down 6-2.
Barley said he spoke to the team between periods, bringing up an earlier loss to the St. Catherine’s Saints, in which the Knights held a five-point lead but the Ontario club chipped away at it and took the win. The Knights fought back to force overtime.
In the overtime period, the Knights struck first, but with 1:26 remaining in the frame, the Slash scored.
A quick rush after the goal allowed the Knights to strike once more to take the win and the bronze back to its home barn in Airdrie.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” said Barley. “When we got there and played a bit, we knew we had a team that could finish. There is only so much a coach can do, but it’s up to the players to put the game together and they did. We came from behind all year, winning seven times, and the biggest game of the year we came from behind for the win. This is the best year the Knights have ever had.”
The Knights set a number of records this season, posting 13 wins and three losses on the regular season, winning the league title, both feats never before accomplished by the club.
They also claimed the first Southern Alberta medal from the President’s Cup tournament in more than 30 years.
“It’s going to take a lot to get to that gold medal game, those teams are good,” said Barley.
“Some of the guys have talked about that expectation to win now. You always have to prepare to win, you don’t just want to prepare to play.”
Despite coming off a successful weekend, Barley wants his team to take some time off before any preparations begin for next season.
“The guys need time off; I need time off,” said Barley. “Our first task will be having a year-end party, then we start to prepare from there.”
“We want to thank the fans and families in Airdrie that supported us all year,” he added. “We look for bigger and better things next year.”