by Kristen McEwen
Though the Prince Albert Predators semifinal tilt versus the Saskatoon Smash turned out to be their last game of the season, the Predators left playoffs as Tier II champions.
The Predators lost their Prairie Gold Lacrosse League Junior playoff semifinal match against the Smash 17-9 on Saturday.
The Smash took an early lead in the first period scoring two goals within the first five minutes of the game.
The Predators’ Steve Caswell, assisted by Rhett Carlson, answered with a goal of their own about a minute later.
The teams rallied back and forth throughout the first two periods. Scoring in Saturday’s game were Steve Caswell, Jagg Carlson and Tyler Tilford -- with two powerplay goals. Bennett Hopkins, Braelan Frenette, Carson Remy and Brady Leachman also added powerplay goals.
The Predators’ Josh Hopkins scored one goal in the third period while the Smash went on to score seven.
The team was expected to play again Sunday, however the Saskatoon Steelers forfeited the game due to a short bench. As a result, the Predators won the Tier II banner.
While Predators’ coach Darryl Frenette said there were a few contributing factors that led up to the loss.
“First of all I hate to make excuses but we haven’t played a real game in a month,” Frenette said.
He noted that other teams had cancelled the past two scheduled games.
“We were rusty no doubt about it,” he said.
In addition to the heat, the lack of playing time added up.
“Not to mention that Saskatoon (Smash) has a very talented team,” Frenette said. “The biggest difference is you can’t be off for a month and get right into it. Saskatoon had their two final games of the year and they already had a playoff game.”
The Yorkton Big Dogs forfeited the Predators’ quarterfinal game.
Despite the lack of playing time, the Predators still walked away as the Tier II champs.
“We won the Tier II banner and we ended up third in the province,” Frenette said. “It was good for us.”
“Just hoping next year is a better year for us, that’s all,” he added.
When the team was able to play this season, Frenette noted that goaltending was a highlight.
“Some of the younger guys that stepped up, did a lot better than we ever though they would,” he said. “We had to battle through injuries and suspension to get through those times and that experience is going to pay off in the years to come.”