Bantams step up to A division, handle themselves well

Campbell River Booster Juice Bantam A Ravens travelled to New Westminster for the Hyack Invitational lacrosse tournament

On the Victoria Day long weekend, the Campbell River Booster Juice Bantam A Ravens travelled to New Westminster for the Hyack Invitational lacrosse tournament.

Perhaps the tournament organizers were caught off-guard by the Ravens recent promotion from B to A division but for whatever reason, they scheduled three of the four round-robin games against Island teams.

The first game was Friday night against Juan de Fuca 2 (JDF2). Several players were with the Southgate band, enjoying a California adventure at one of the happiest places on Earth, so two players were called up from the Bantam C team.

Matthew Leard played in every game while Kari Martynyk was able to join the team for two games. Neither looked out of place as they were competing for loose balls and working hard at both ends of the floor.

Leard even scored the Ravens first goal of the tournament off of a sick pass from Reilly Doney.

When the Ravens ran their motion offence, they had the JDF2 players on their heels and were able to generate quality scoring chances. Picks were being set at both ends of the floor, defenders ensured there were no clear paths through the middle of the house.

Will McLean denied a JDF2 breakaway which helped to turn the tide in the Ravens’ favour.

Bryce Turko ensured Old Moe (last name Mentum) was wearing Ravens colours shortly after that as he buried the ball in the back of the net on a breakaway to tie the score at 3.

Great ball movement, including a series of mid-range passes, brought the ball quickly up the floor and into Mason Osterhout-Code’s basket. He delivered the mail and fired the ball into the back of the net.

Ian Hall, Doney and Turko added to the scoring; the final score was 7-5 for the Ravens. Aidan Probyn and Quinn Pedersen were running the floor well, both playing strong on offence and defence. Game awards for most valuable player (MVP) went to McLean and work horse (WH) was Doney.

The second game was Saturday morning against Peninsula Warriors.

The Ravens seemed to start down the slippery slope of taking ill-advised penalties. Peninsula did their best to teach the Ravens that is not a wise strategy at any level of competitive sports. The Ravens played hard but ran into a hot goalie and weren’t able to score until Peninsula had already jumped out to a 0-5 lead by the middle of the second period.

Quin Nelson fired a pass to Nolan Fair as he was cutting and Fair put the ball into the low corner to crack the goose-egg. Nelson scored shortly before the end of the second to make it 2-5. Each team scored once in the third as Gavin Hope rippled the twine for the Ravens; final score 3-6 for Peninsula. MVP was Hope, WH was Nelson.

The third game was Saturday afternoon against Nanaimo Timbermen.

Nanaimo was seeking to avenge their loss to the Ravens the previous weekend.

They opened the scoring, executing a two-on-none to perfection. Nanaimo used their team speed to extend the lead to 0-3 before Turko finished a three-way passing play from Fair and Osterhout-Code. The Ravens were caught doing a slow jog back on defence as Nanaimo split the Ravens like a maul going through a chunk of dry cedar and wired the ball glove side, low corner. They scored another to lead 1-5 at the end of the first period.

Liam Rivett closed the gap with a beauty shot just inside the post as the second period ended 2-7 for Nanaimo. The Ravens won the third period 5-3 to bring the final score 7-10 for Nanaimo. Nelson and Leard added singles while Fair closed the game with a hat-trick. Game MVP was Fair; WH was Osterhout-Code.

Knowing they were out of contention for the medal round didn’t dampen the Ravens’ spirit in their fourth game against Coquitlam Adanacs.

The Adanacs had two shut-outs in their first three games so the Ravens’ focus was strong defence and running their motion offence. The game started with teams trading good chances but shooters were denied by opposing goalies. Adanacs got on the scoreboard with a shot that hit the crossbar and landed behind McLean with Tiger Woods-like back-spin to creep across the goal line. They added a power-play goal while keeping the Ravens scoreless in the first period; 0-2.

Fair put the Ravens on the board after they killed off a double-minor penalty. Osterhout-Code passed to Fair on a cut through the house and he wired it to tie the score at 2. The parade to the penalty box continued with another double-minor and the Adanacs put another power-play goal on the board.

The second period ended 2-3 for the Adanacs. They added two even strength goals before putting one into the empty-net with 25 seconds left to win2-6.

Shots on goal were 30 for the Ravens and 43 for the Adanacs.  Game MVP was Rivett; WH was Fair.

Head coach Todd Fair was proud of the team effort, especially considering a relatively short bench.

“Our effort was great in each game. We truly never gave up, we simply ran out of time on the clock in a couple of games. Matthew and Kari played very good lacrosse at this tournament. They were understandably a little nervous but not intimidated coming up from C division and handled the much faster pace quite well. Overall, we need to play with a bit more discipline and stay out of the penalty box. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of the game and want to get even. If we can remember that our focus is to ‘get even by beating them on the scoreboard, we will have more team success.

“Our team leaders are stepping up and leading by example. We need to continue to run the floor at both ends and make good line changes…We are learning what it takes to compete in the A division level.”

The Bantam A Ravens travel to Peninsula on Saturday May 25 then return home to play Saanich Tigers on Sunday May 26 at 1:30 p.m.