The Campbell River Ravens peewee lacrosse team started the 2015 seemingly lost on the wrong end of a series of lopsided scores.
But by last weekend the Ravens had found just where they belonged — in the B.C. provincial championship final.
The peewees returned with silver medals after a close-fought, 4-2 loss to Kamloops in the provincial Peewee C championship final at Maple Ridge Sunday.
The Ravens used goals by Owen Wellard and Taylor Lynse in a third-period rally to trim a 3-0 deficit and were pushing hard for the tying score when Kamloops slipped behind the attack for an insurance goal with a minute remaining.
“In the third period we were all over them,” Ravens coach Jason Wellard said. “Either team could have won; it was a fun game.”
The Ravens opened the season slotted in the Peewee ‘B’ tier despite having six first-year players and six more in just their second season of lacrosse.
“The way tiering works, there’s a mathematical equation based on kids’ years of experience,” said Welland. “In the B division you’re supposed to have three to five years of experience. We were put into B when on paper we’re a C team.”
A third of the way into the season, Vancouver Island Minor Box Lacrosse caught on to the weekly poundings the Ravens were taking, and dropped the peewees into the C division. They responded immediately by going on an extended unbeaten streak, and qualified for the provincial berth by winning the Island C title.
“I think one of the main reasons for our success was playing that ‘B’ experience,” Wellard said. “All of our first-year kids experienced a much higher level of lacrosse than they would have playing in C.
“Sure, it was difficult, and we paid for every mistake we made. But we learned from those mistakes.”
Campbell River’s Kenny Sweet was awarded the provincial tourney MVP trophy, selected by the coaches in the tier, but Jason Wellard said the showing was a complete team effort.
“Of the 17 runners we had on the roster, 11 of them scored,” the coach said. “It’s not like it’s a single person winning it for us. It was a big team effort.”
Three different players posted hat tricks in a tournament game, and for both Lynse and Owen Wellard it was their first career hat trick. Sweet had the other.
Goalie Erik “The Wall” Forbes managed the only shutout in 60-plus games of Peewee championship play in the AA, A, B and C classifications with his 11-0 blanking of West Kootenay.
Brandon Babcock scored his first goal of the season on a strong individual effort play, Eran Hamer had multiple goals in the team’s first two pool games, and Tyler Wingert was presented the Warrior Sportsmanship Award.
“This team is the most coachable team I’ve ever coached,” said Wellard, who was assisted by Andrew McNeilly, Todd Forbes and Derrick Wingert. “Throughout the tournament, when the coaches and I scouted the other teams and gave them information, they jumped all over that. We came up with a plan, and the kids executed it.”
The Ravens breezed to a 3-0 record in pool play Friday and Saturday to claim the top seed, opening with a 5-3 win over Delta before beating Mission 10-5 and blasting West Kootenay 11-0.
The peewees parlayed stout defence and goalkeeping into a 5-1 semifinal victory over Ridge Meadows to earn a berth in the final.
Sweet was named the Ravens’ game MVP in the championship game, but promptly turned and handed the prize to Forbes in recognition of his work in goal.
“He really felt what our goalie had done for us was a little overlooked,” Wellard said.
“This was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I am looking forward to many more,” said Sweet. “Jason and all our coaches made this year really fun and as far as I’m concerned, our whole team are winners.”
Sweet, Lysne and Kennady Fisher — the only girl on the team — each earned game MVP awards in round-robin play, and Owen Wellard was selected in the semifinal win over Ridge Meadows.
The team also included Andrew Van Dyck, Cole McIntosh, Dylan Kelly, Jas Thiara, Jordon Ernst, Joseph Marks, Levi Nichols, Nic La Pierre, Ty McNeilly and Wyatt Surgenor.
Campbell River Ravens peewee Tyler Wingert celebrates a goal during a regular-season lacrosse match against Comox at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in June. — J.R. Rardon/Campbell River Mirror
Peewee C Provincial Championships
At Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows
Kamloops 4, Campbell River 2
Ravens goals: Owen Wellard, Taylor Lysne.
Campbell River 5, Ridge Meadows 1
Ravens goals: Kenny Sweet 3, Lysne 2
Campbell River 5, Delta 3
Ravens goals: Sweet 3, Eran Hamer 2. Assists: Jordon Ernst, Cole McIntosh, Lysne, Hamer.
Campbell River 10, Mission 5
Ravens goals: Sweet 4, Jas Thiara 2, Owen Wellard, Hamer, Brandon Babcock, Ernst. Assists: Lysne 4, Joseph Marks, Wyatt Surgenor, McIntosh.
Campbell River 11, West Kootenay 0
Ravens goals: Wellard 3, Thiara 2, Lysne 2, Dylan Kelly, Sweet, Kennady Fisher, McIntosh. Assists: Erik Forbes 2, Sweet, Wellard, Kelly, Thiara. Shutout: Forbes.