The B.C. champion Juan de Fuca Whalers bantam A1 lacrosse team had some hugely inspiring moments on the day of the championship game last week against Coquitlam.
Having lost 8-4 to the mainland team on day 2 of the Lacrosse BC provincial tournament last week, the Whalers were already anxious to gain a measure of revenge.
But as they were getting ready to play the final July 19 at Killarney Arena in Vancouver, a figure appeared in the stands that gave some of the players goosebumps.
Mason Wright, the 16-year-old brother of Whalers sniper Logan Wright, had received the green light from doctors at Children’s Hospital to leave and come cheer on his fellow lacrosse players. Mason, a Whaler midget player who suffers from scoliosis, had undergone back surgery just days earlier.
“I noticed it right away,” Whalers goalie Adam Bland said of the older Wright’s presence. “I saw him just behind our net. It made me realize we had to win this one for Mason.”
That inspiration didn’t kick in immediately, however, as the tough Coquitlam side took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The next jolt came early in the second period, when defensive specialist Alec Billings, not known as a scoring threat, raced in to score the tying goal.
“He goes down on a breakaway and scores. Of all kids (on the team), he was the one that sparks the team and gets us going,” Bland said. “At that point we knew it was like zero-zero; it was anybody’s game.”
Logan Wright, whose powerful drives to the net all weekend saw him amass 17 goals in six games, scored three in the final. He was not only named most valuable player of the game, he earned tournament MVP honours.
Other goal scorers in the final were Evan Law and Riley Hawes.
Coquitlam had limited scoring opportunities in the final as Whalers defenders, undersized compared to the mainlanders, checked closely and kept most opposing shot attempts out at the perimeter.
The tournament win was rather historic for seven second-year bantams on this Whalers team. They chalked up their third straight provincial A-level championship, a string that began in pee wee.
The Whalers nearly absorbed a critical loss in their opening game July 16. They fell behind Ridge Meadows 4-0 after two periods before Wright went to work. He scored four goals in the third, including the game winner in a 5-4 victory. Brett Bridges notched the other Whalers goal.
Bland, who was later named to the tournament all-star team, stopped 47 shots. He finished with a sparkling goals against average of 3.17 per game.
Brian Spaven, who turned around and headed back to Abbotsford to coach the Zone 6 B.C. Summer Games field lacrosse team after the provincials win, served as head coach of the Whalers, helped by assistants Dennis Law and Gord Hawes. Other players on the team included Austin Adrian, Matt Atkinson, Matt Morneau, Cole Arthur, Brodie Wade, Kaden Granberg, Noah Manning, Colby Condon, Carson Echlin, Daniel Rammage, Jake Obee and Aidan Solomon.