The Rockyview Knights senior B men’s lacrosse team opened its 2019 Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) campaign April 26 with an 8-6 home win over one of its biggest rivals – the Calgary Sr. B Mountaineers.
While the Knights led 8-1 in the third period, the Mounties nearly staged an epic comeback with a five-goal showing in the final 13 minutes.
“We have a few things to work on, but overall, it was a good game,” said Knights player Ryan Strome. “We kept swinging the ball on the offensive end and communicating on the defensive end."
Patrick Omeara led in scoring for the Knights, with a hat trick and an assist. Rockyview’s other goal scorers included Strome, Ryan Gould, captain Taylor Crossley, Clayton Warren and Mark Wilson.
“It was a big win – I know it’s a big rivalry with those guys,” said Strome, who recently joined the Knights from the Blackfalds Silverbacks. “It’s good to get a win against them.
“We just have to tighten up defensively. Even on offence, we need to bury a few more goals in the third so it’s not as close.”
Head coach Gareth Barley said he was pleased with the team's performance, though he acknowledged there were portions of the game where Rockyview was outplayed.
“First game of the year, we knew it was going to be a bit of a sloppy game,” he said. “Guys are still feeling each other out and getting to know each other. We have a lot of new guys on the team.”
Lacrosse fans in Airdrie will see a new Knights roster this season. While key players like Crossley and Omeara are still in the lineup, last season’s top scorer Casey McIntyre has moved out of province. Meanwhile, key players from past seasons, Warren and Destin Seguin, have returned to the fray.
Another new player who will provide a huge boost to Rockyview’s defensive ranks is goaltender Tye Belanger, who brings seven years of professional and Senior A experience to the squad.
“He’s a former [Western Lacrosse Association] player in New Westminster and he spent some time in the National Lacrosse League with Buffalo and Vancouver, so his experience is a strength back there,” Barley said.
“He had a wealth of experience that really showed [tonight]. He was able to pull guys in at times, which was good for us.”
Rockyview will return to the floor May 4 to take on the Calgary Sr. Raiders, on the road. The Knights will be back at the Plainsmen Arena May 10 to face the Mounties once again.
“In our first six games, we play these guys three times,” Barley said. "We should be familiar with them by the end of it.”
Local teams begin season
While the Knights is Airdrie’s top lacrosse team, the city has plenty more representation within the various divisions of the RMLL, including the senior ladies' squad Rockyview Attack, the junior girls’ Rockyview Silvertips, and the senior C men’s Airdrie Mohawks. All Airdrie teams in the RMLL play home games at the Plainsmen Arena.
The Silvertips’ 2019 season started April 28, with a narrow 13-12 win over the Calgary Axemen. Sixteen-year-old Livi Clason was the star of the evening, earning four goals and two assists for the ‘Tips.
Silvertips head coach Robin Finley said the team enjoyed a promising preseason, with high commitment from all the players. Though he’s new to the Silvertips, Finley has coached competitive lacrosse in Calgary for 10 years.
“I think our team is going to learn a lot, and is going to be a very different-looking team at the end of the year than we are at the start of the year,” he said.
“I’m looking for a lot of growth and development, particularly on stick skills and offensive ball movement.”
Rockyview will be back in action in Alberta’s capital May 5, to lock horns with the Edmonton Drillers.