Miners host Knights in Spruce Grove
St. Albert's home playoff dates in senior B provincial final moved to Grant Fuhr Arena
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 06:00 am
The St. Albert Miners will play their home games in the provincial senior B lacrosse final at Spruce Grove instead of on their home floor at Servus Credit Union Place.
Northstar Hyundai Arena is unavailable next weekend for the playoff series against the Rockyview Knights because ice is being installed.
“We don’t like it. We like having our dressing room, our bench and our regular floor,” said Sean Reid, an offensive attacker for the two-time defending champions.
Game three is Friday at 8 p.m. and game four, if needed, is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Grant Fuhr Arena, the venue for the 2012 Presidents’ Cup national championship hosted by the Spruce Grove Slash.
“It’s definitely going to be weird being in the enemy’s arena. Their lighting is really dark,” Reid said. “We prefer our arena a lot more but at least the stands will look a little more packed without all those red seats. That’s the only bonus, I guess.”
The series starts this weekend in Airdrie. Game one goes tonight at 8 p.m. and game two is Sunday at 4 p.m. at Ron Ebbesen Arena.
If the fifth and deciding game is required, it will take place next Sunday at 4 p.m. in Airdrie.
The Miners failed to win a road game in the finals after winning twice at home to open the playoff series against the Okotoks Raiders in 2010 and the Knights last year.
“The big thing is we have to finish it before game five this year. The last two years it went to game five and we had to come back here luckily both times and win it. This time we don’t want to go down there on the Sunday for game five,” Reid said.
The Knights (13-3) finished first in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League for home floor advantage in the playoffs.
“They’re much better than in past years. They’ve picked up some players from other teams down there. It seems like they were tired of us winning and they might have stacked their team,” Reid said. “They’ve got some guys on their team that are playing defence that I know should be playing offence. They’re really, really good players and they’re back on defence because they’re that loaded on offence.”
The Knights beat the third-place Miners (9-6-1) in St. Albert 11-7 June 3 and in Calgary 9-7 July 1.
“We actually lost to the Mountaineers that weekend in Calgary. They were in last place at the time and then we lost to the Knights the next day. Our defence was playing great, it was our offence that let us down that weekend,” said Reid, who missed the home game against the Knights while on business in Thailand.
The Miners and Knights ranked second and third offensively in league play with 163 and 152 goals, respectively.
Miners captain Nate Schmidt was the Harris Toth Award winner as the league’s top scorer with 28 goals and 64 points in 14 games. He leads all playoff scorers with 12 goals and 20 points in the four-game playoff victory against the Slash.
“The challenge is going to be scoring goals this weekend. It’s not going to be the defence, it’s going to be the offence that needs to click,” Reid said. “It’s going to be a lot more of an offensive battle than it was last year. Whatever goalie shows up on each day and whatever offence outguns the other one will determine the winner.”
Reid, 24, tallied seven goals and four assists against the Slash in the playoffs after recording two goals and 12 points in nine league games.
Last year he was the runner-up for the scoring title by three points behind teammate of Graedon Cornfield, with 22 goals and 62 points in 16 games.
“When we’re most successful is when we’re slinging the ball and everyone gets a touch. We’re passing it so fast the other teams can’t keep up,” Reid said.
The Knights were the No. 1 team defensively, with 10 fewer goals against than the Miners while letting in an average of eight per game.
Miners standout Dave Marrese, the practice goalie for the National Lacrosse League’s Edmonton Rush, is coming off an impressive series against the Slash. Alex Coutts is the last line of defence for the Knights. Last year the Miners added Coutts to their roster for the Presidents’ Cup, and while filling in for the injured Marrese the former NLL goalie with the Calgary Roughnecks averaged 9.63 goals against and was named to the second all-star team for the 2-4 Alberta reps.
“It’s going to be a battle of the goaltenders,” Reid said. “Goaltending is always the biggest thing in this league. We have Dave in net and he is the best goalie in the league. They have Alex Coutts in their net and we brought him to the Presidents’ Cup last year as our affiliate goalie and he is just as good. Even their backup goalie, [Geoff] Rainsford, is equally as good too.”