Lacrosse seasons starts next week
The ice has been removed and now it is time for lacrosse to take over the playing surface at the Kinsmen Arena.
The Prince Albert Lacrosse Association gets into full swing on Wednesday when evaluation camps in all divisions get under way and president Tyson Fetch says it is an exciting time of the year.
“We were hoping to increase our membership by 20 percent, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Fetch following the late registration session earlier this week. “We should be about the same as last year with between 220 and 230 players.”
“Like any year, there are a lot of new registrants,” added Fetch. “I’m pretty excited about this year actually.”
The minor box teams will have five evaluation sessions and four practises before the regular season starts on May 5. Prince Albert will host a tournament for all teams from novice to bantam on May 23-25 and provincial playoffs for pee wee, bantam and midget divisions will be held July 4-6 in Regina.
A number of the minor box clubs will also make the trek to Saskatoon for a tournament, but it is the Junior Predators that will be doing the bulk of the travelling again this year as they compete in the Prairie Junior Lacrosse League.
The Predators, who lost their final game last year in double overtime to prevent them from advancing to the final four championship tournament, will compete against just six other teams this year as Moose Jaw has taken a year sabbatical.
“We expect a much better team as everyone will have one year under their belt,” noted Predators’ head coach Darryl Frenette. “We had a very young team last year, by far the youngest, so we are going to have to lean on our veterans a bit more.”
The Predators, who feature players that are 16-21 years of age, will be accepting registrations for the 2014 season on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena with the first evaluation camp to follow at 9 p.m.
The Predators will continue with practises for about a week with an exhibition game on April 27 against the Saskatoon Brewers wrapping up the training camp portion of the schedule. The PJLL regular season features each team playing 12 games – up from 10 in previous years – and will also have all seven teams meet in Regina at the end of May where each club will play three games along with participating in the all-star game.
“It saves us another road trip to the south,” says Frenette of the decision to host a weekend festival. “We also get five home games this year as part of our agreement to play in the festival.”
The regular schedule runs until the end of June with playoffs to be held in the early part of July in Saskatoon.
Frenette says even though the Predators could lose just one player from last year’s team he is hoping for a large turnout on Wednesday so that difficult decisions will need to be made to field a stronger and more competitive club.
“Whether they are from Prince Albert, Melfort, Shellbrook or the surrounding area, anybody can try out,” says Frenette.
The Predators are the showcase team of the sport in Prince Albert and Fetch hopes more people take in their games as that could have a great impact on the future of the sport in the city.
“If more people knew about the game that would maybe get more interested in it,” says Fetch. “They should come out and watch a Predators game and see what it is all about. That might get them interested in the game.”
Although numbers have declined since the sport first came to the city more than a decade ago, there is still plenty of interest and with the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association hosting its annual general meeting here in October that shows there is still a lot of confidence in Prince Albert being a strong market for the sport.
It all starts on Wednesday for another season and with Prince Albert coming off a bronze-medal result in the bantam division last year the sport is moving in the right direction. More participation would only make it that much better.