Players and coaches with the Juan de Fuca Whalers bantam A1 team celebrate their gold-medal win at the provincial lacrosse championships in Kelowna on Sunday.

Juan de Fuca Whalers get it done at lacrosse provincials

Bantam A1 team shows heart, leaves no doubt over skills by capping season with a championship victory

At the beginning of the season, not many people, especially those on the mainland, would have predicted that the Juan de Fuca Whalers would go all the way and win the bantam A1 provincial championship.

The gritty Colwood-based squad did just that over the weekend in Kelowna, however, reeling off seven straight wins and handing Ridge Meadows a 6-4 loss in Sunday’s final.

Teams from Ridge Meadows, Coquitlam and especially New Westminster may have placed more players on Team B.C., the elite squad playing at the nationals this week in Saskatoon, but the Whalers showed their value as a unit, beating those teams en route to the title, said head coach Brian Spaven. “For a team that wasn’t expected to win anything, we had a great season. It was a great achievement for the boys,” he said.

“We had no superstars. I think the thing that won it for us is the way we came together as a team. For a lot of these kids, they had won the pee wee gold last year, and they have a chance to win (the bantam crown) again next year.”

With an even mix of eight first-year and eight second-year bantam players, the most even among the top four teams at the tournament, the Whalers’ future looks bright, Spaven said.

The final saw Juan de Fuca jump out to a 6-2 lead, give up a couple goals, then shut the door on their opponent as they had for much of the tournament.

“The kids played outstanding defence. We worked on that all year with the kids, to pressure out (of our zone) and capitalize on our opportunities. We figured if we could hold a team under three or four goals, we’d win every game.”

As the only goaltender in uniform for the team, Adam Bland was a rock all weekend for the Whalers, coming up with big saves when needed and playing a big role in the team’s transition game, Spaven said. Bland was named to the tournament’s first all-star team for his efforts.

His heart and that of his teammates showed in the semifinal, a 7-6 overtime win against New West. With the Whalers up 6-3 with about four minutes left, the mainlanders popped a couple of quick goals past Bland, then one more with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Bland bore down, made a couple of critical stops in OT, and helped turn the play around. Evan Law grabbed a loose ball and shot it in for the winner.

Juan de Fuca went 5-0 in round robin play, beating Coquitlam 3-2 in overtime, Kamloops 7-1, Ridge Meadows 8-3, New West 4-3 and Delta 10-4.

The Whalers’ Dawson Parker, who Spaven called one of the team’s most improved players this year, was named winner of the Warrior Fair Play Award after the tournament.

Other team members included Jaxon Parkhouse, Jayden Polard, Colby Condon, Logan Wright, Issac Swan, Griffin Hall, Jacob Obee, Casey Wilson, Brodie Strugnell, Riley Hawes, Chase Klassen, Matt Atkinson and Jacob King. Spaven was helped on the bench by Dennis Law and Gord Hawes.

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

SD62 student places third in province-wide French competition

12-year-old Sasha Zandieh won third with a speech on poet Pablo Neruda

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read