The Bantam C Ravens lacrosse team are Vancouver Island champions.
The Windsor Plywood Ravens were in Duncan at “The Big Hockey Stick” to play the Peninsula Warriors in a winner take all last weekend, and take it all they did.
The Ravens and Warriors went head-to-head in a best-of-three series for the Vancouver Island Bantam C championship.
The Ravens were coming off a tie and a loss against Victoria-Esquimalt two weeks earlier.
Head coach Todd Fair worked with assistant coaches Jeff Lontayao, Ken Doney and Steve Rickman to put together a series of practice plans to help the team get-back-to-the-basics. The Ravens then confirmed why the expression “how you practice is how you play” is a sporting axiom.
Game one started with a bit of nerves on both sides as some passes sailed high above awaiting baskets due to extra adrenaline. While in the attacking zone, the drills from practice started to manifest themselves in the Ravens’ play.
Liam Rivett set a pick that allowed Cole Gent to put a bounce shot on net that the Warriors goalie never saw for the first goal of the game.
Nolan Morrison was a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the floor as usual. He was controlling the attack and took a stick to the helmet before rubbing the defender off on a pick. With a free lane, Morrison wired a shot on net to give the Ravens a 2-0 lead. Just before the end of the first, the Warriors placed a shot just inside the post that went by goalie Will McLean to bring the score to 2-1.
The second period began with intense pressure from both teams on the ball. The Warriors had a player in the penalty box as the Ravens ran a picture perfect power play. The ball moved from side-to-side and then back to the player cutting through the high slot.
Morrison ensured the efforts were not wasted as he put the biscuit in the basket. The referees were colour blind and kept their calls consistent throughout the game. While short-handed, Nolan Fair received a breakaway pass from Zachary Lontayao and ran it up the floor. He made a couple of moves before burying the ball for a 4-1 lead to end the second period.
Teams traded goals at the start of the third with Morrison scoring for the Ravens. The Warriors kept their attack coming and scored again to make it 5-3. Fair then intercepted a pass while forechecking the Warriors break-out and wired a shot for a 6-3 lead.
Reilly Doney was the beneficiary of a pass from Morrison and took full advantage of his opportunity to extend the Ravens’ lead to 7-3. Fair was on the receiving end of a Morrison pass and converted for the Ravens’ eighth goal. The Warriors scored on a bit of a dunk goal from in close to complete the scoring. Ravens won game one by a score of 8-4.
Later that same day, in game two, the nerves were long gone as the Ravens picked up where they left off at the end of the first game.
Andy Hunt fired a perfect pass to Ross Rickman who relayed the ball to Doney. Doney used a screen to get his stick free and launched a howitzer on net that put the Ravens in the lead 1-0. Later, Max Nelson saw Ian Hall cutting through the house and gave him the ball.
Hall stepped into his shot to overpower the Warriors goalie for the Ravens second goal. Gent was the beneficiary of a Nick Kool pass and he also made no mistake, putting the Ravens up 3-0. The Warriors were able to take advantage of a turnover to score.
That seemed to get the Ravens’ attention and they got back to basics. Rivett found Lontayao open at the side of the net and Lontayao put it into the onion bag before the goalie knew what happened to give the Ravens a 4-1 lead after one period.
The hard work in practice and large roster was helping the Ravens during the heat of these games. Lontayao scored off of a rebound at the start of the second period.
After withstanding a Warriors sustained attack, Justin Kennelly ran down a loose ball, sprinting from one end of the arena to the other.
His efforts were well-rewarded as he grabbed the ball, got the goalie moving and buried the ball into the back of the net. On a power-play, Hall cut through the house, received the ball from Morrison and scored to give the Ravens a 7-1 lead.
Hall returned the favour by putting pressure on the ball as the Warriors were bringing it up the floor. He forced a turnover which Lontayao recovered. Lontayao saw Morrison breaking and got him the ball which put another Ravens goal up on the board as Morrison made no mistake.
The Warriors tried to push back with a breakaway of their own off of a loose ball and brought the score to 8-2. While short-handed, Rivett sprang Morrison who spotted Fair streaking down the other side. Fair scored to make it 9-2 at the end of the second.
The third period saw the Warriors trying to float a player at mid-floor to try to generate breakaways but they were stymied by McLean. Morrison scored two additional power-play goals for a final score of 11-2 which gave the Ravens a series win, two games to none.
Kodie Borton, Connor Ludvigson, Jasper Osterhout-Code, and Riley Wellman were outstanding in both games, each making significant contributions to the victories.
After the teams shook hands, the Vancouver Island Minor Lacrosse Commissioner presented the Ravens with the championship banner. The Bantam C Ravens now head to the bantam provincial championships on July 26-29 in Burnaby.
The Ravens thank everyone who purchased raffle tickets in the Minor Lacrosse raffle and the businesses who donated prizes.
Last, but not least, congratulations to the Subway Peewee B Ravens as they head to Richmond for their provincial championships.