Despite missing the first four games of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) season, Airdrie native and Rockyview Silvertips captain Nolan Oakey has wasted no time upon his return to the junior B squad, rocketing to the top of the league's scoring charts and setting a single-season points record for the Cochrane-based team.
On July 2, Oakey netted three goals and added eight assists in Rockyview's 19-3 win over the Mountain View Mavericks. His 11-point performance propelled him to 101 points overall this season, with one regular-season game left to play.
In 15 outings, Oakey has managed 49 goals and 52 assists this season. That means he has already surpassed the Silvertips' previous single-season scoring record, which was set in 2006 by Joel Henry, who collected 93 points that summer.
The 20-year-old from Airdrie added he was unaware he had set the Silvertips' single-season points record until his coaches informed him of the feat after the win over the Mavericks.
“I obviously felt pretty excited I had the opportunity to do that,” he said. “Obviously, it wasn’t just me. It was my coaches and my teammates who helped me get there – and my parents for dragging me to all those practices to give me the opportunity to get where I am today.
“It’s pretty easy to put some points up on the board when our team is playing like that.”
Adding to the impressive nature of Oakey's record is the fact he missed the first four games of the Silvertips' 2022 campaign, as he was still attending his university in the U.S. when the RMLL season got underway in May. He's been a key part of the Silvertips' offence since his return, averaging nearly seven points per game.
Oakey, who is Rockyview's captain this season, acknowledged it is surreal to think 2022 will be his last summer donning the Silvertips' jersey. The 2019 graduate of W.H. Croxford High School has spent his entire junior career with the Cochrane-based team, since joining in 2018 as a 16-year-old rookie.
“It still doesn’t feel like my last year, especially with the two years we lost to COVID,” the RMLL veteran said. “It hasn’t really hit me quite yet that it is my last year, but I’m sure it will when we get into playoffs.
“But being with the Silvertips for the last five years has been awesome. All the teammates I’ve had have been amazing. Coach Tyler [Waycott], he was my first coach when I joined the Silvertips and now he’s the last coach I’ll have for my last year, so it’s really cool to have him on the bench again. He’s a great coach and taught me a lot about lacrosse. He’s progressed my game quite a bit, so it’s nice to have him on the bench.”
Taylor, who has coached the Airdronian since his last year of midget lacrosse, said Oakey deserved the single-season points record this year, as he has been “setting new standards” since joining the Silvertips five years ago.
He credited the player's work ethic and sense of leadership in helping him achieve the accolade.
“He's a better person than he is a player,” Taylor said. “He's a great teammate and has been an absolute pleasure to coach. He buys into what we're trying to do as a team and as an organization. He's a fantastic person and that translates into his game.
“I've known Nolan for a long time and it's very fitting to see an individual like this, who has put in a lot of work, get to this point and be individually awarded.”
The Silvertips will return to the floor at Cochrane's Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre at 7 p.m. on July 9 for the team's final regular-season game, against the Manitoba Blizzard. Afterwards, the team will prepare for the RMLL playoffs, which get underway later this month.
Thanks to an impressive 13-6 record this season, Rockyview has already clinched first place in the central division – a first in the franchise's history. Being the division's top seed will provide a first-round bye and home-field advantage for the Silvertips' upcoming playoff run.
“This is our first time ever finishing first in our division. It’s huge for our organization,” Oakey said.
“We’ve had a great season this year. We’ve really come together and created a unity within the group. We’re starting to really gel as a team heading into playoffs, which is awesome.”