For the past two weeks the Prince Albert Predators have had their dance shoes on, but nobody to tango with.
The Predators were revving to go for their opening Prairie Gold Lacrosse League playoff match on Saturday at Kinsmen Arena, a tilt forfeited by the Yorkton Bulldogs on Friday, their second-straight opponent to do so.
On June 22, the Regina Riot were scheduled to take on the Predators at Kinsmen Arena to close out the PGLL regular season. For unknown reasons, the Riot forfeited.
“We are very disappointed,” said Predators coach Darryl Frenette of the Bulldogs forfeit. “It’s very disappointing on our end because of the amount of money we’ve spent to go south and fulfil our commitment to our league games.”
There is some silver lining to the Bulldogs forfeit, however.
With the Bulldogs losing their playoff match by default, the Predators automatically gain entry into the PGLL championship weekend in Saskatoon, where they will take on the Saskatoon Smash in the league semi-final on July 12.
Although happy to make it to the next round, Frenette said he wanted his team to earn their ticket to the Bridge City.
“We wanted to win our way in,” he said. “We are very happy to be there regardless.”
The Predators finished off their regular season campaign with a 8-4-0 record, splitting their season series with the Smash 1-1.
On May 10, the Predators triumphed over the Smash with a narrow 18-17 victory at Kinsmen Arena, followed by a 19-9 loss in Saskatoon the next day.
“We’ve played them twice already so we’ve had a good look at them,” Frenette said of the Predators first playoff opponent. “I feel that they might have a few better offensive guys than we have, but I feel we have better defence and for sure a better goaltender.”
The Smash’s offensive charge is led by Sam Murphy, who finished No. 1 in league scoring during the regular season with 109 points.
Between the pipes, the Predators have ridden the solid goaltending of Lucas Wells, who posted a regular season record of 5-4 with a goals-against-average of 10.11.
Heading into the playoffs, Frenette said they are doing what they can to stay in game mode after their last two opponents left them hanging out to dry.
He added that after closing out the regular season with a big win against the Bulldogs on the road, the Predators would have liked to keep things going.
“We’ve done a fair amount of conditioning,” he explained. “We are trying to keep our cardio up, but nothing beats playing an actual game to stay sharp.”
The Predators are now running practices twice a week as they play in game-like situations to keep their hearts going.
With a win on Saturday in Saskatoon, the Predators would advance to the championship game on Sunday.
When asked to speculate as to who his opponent might be in the PGLL final, Frenette pointed to the No. 1 seeded Regina Rifles, who the Predators played just once this year.
With a depleted lineup, the Predators fell to the Rifles 12-10 on June 1 at home.
“We’ve never played them with a full lineup,” Frenette said. “I’d like to see us healthy and play the Rifles, that would be interesting.”
Heading into Saturday’s tilt, the Predators confidence is high.
“It’s been a wonderful year,” he said. “We are going to go into it with the attitude that we are going to win. We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”