Crude too tough to stop
Last year's junior B Tier 1 provincial finalists are a team to fear in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am
The St. Albert Crude are running the floor with authority as provincial contenders for the Founders’ Cup.
Last year’s junior B Tier 1 finalists are off to a blazing start in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League at 3-0-1.
“We’re on track to where we want to be,” said head coach Terry Dokken. “We’ve set some pretty lofty goals for ourselves and one of them is to win provincials and go to Halifax (Aug. 18 to 24) for the Founders’ Cup.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and we should be able to do it.”
Twenty-two players on the 25-man roster are returnees from the most successful season in team history. The age range in junior B is 17 to 21.
“On paper we would be the best team but on paper it doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to go out every game and work towards being the best,” Dokken said. “Of course it does help a lot to have so many guys back. These guys know each other very well and there is good camaraderie on the team.”
It was a season of firsts in 2013 for the Crude to finish on top in the north with a franchise-best 14-5-1 record. In the playoffs the Crude were victorious in the opening round for the first time ever, en route to capturing the north final before losing three straight to the Calgary Mountaineers in the best-of-five provincial championship.
In the best-of-three north playoff series against the Saskatchewan Swat – a team the Crude had never beaten in the last five years – and the Red Deer Rampage the St. Albert squad came through in the clutch in three elimination games to advance, including the last two games against Red Deer.
“It was a very rewarding year and a lot of fun at the same time,” said Dokken, who jumped on board a sinking Crude ship six years ago and kept it afloat before last year’s startling turnaround.
“It was tough to get players to play for us so we just had to change the whole program and the culture of the team. We’ve done that but it’s taken awhile and a lot of hard work to build a program that kids want to be a part of. All of a sudden we started to win and it was really rewarding for the players and for the people that have helped me build this program like my coaching staff and my managers.”
Last weekend the Crude wrapped up a four-game homestand at Akinsdale Arena with wins of 8-2 against the Sherwood Park Titans (1-4) and 9-6 against the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Blizzard (1-2).
The Crude are shooting for their fourth consecutive victory in Thursday’s tilt against the Titans at 8:30 p.m. in Sherwood Park.
“It’s a great way to start things off. I’m very happy but we’ve still got lots to work on,” Dokken said.
Cody Stannard, Simon Hansen and Jacob Dion tallied twice and Derek Burak and Brody Tod also scored against the Titans on Saturday. Dion added three assists and Stannard, Burak and Lucas Roberts each had a pair of helpers. In net was Troy Boucher – the first Crude rookie to go undefeated in the regular season at 8-0 in 2013.
The Crude posted period leads of 2-1 and 6-1.
Sunday the Crude out-scored the Blizzard 4-1 in the third after trailing 3-1 in the first before pulling even at five in the middle frame.
Stannard pumped in four goals, the last three were on the power play, and chipped in with three assists. Last year Stannard set a Crude rookie record with 78 points in 14 games for fourth place in the north scoring race.
Hansen fired two goals and Tod, Owen Feist and Greason Neddow netted singles. Burak and Dion recorded three assists apiece. Boucher was in net.
“We definitely played a lot better against Winnipeg. That was probably the best team that we’ve played so far,” Dokken said. “Our goal every period is to get better and so far we’ve done that. Our starts are a little bit shaky but our third periods are outstanding. We just dominate teams in the third period and that is because of conditioning. We’ve done a lot of conditioning in the preseason that’s really starting to pay off.”
The backbone of the Crude is a rock-solid defence.
“Every game it gets better and better and better. We’re only allowing 4.75 goals a game. In lacrosse you’re not going to lose if you only allow that many goals,” Dokken said.
The next home game is May 24 against the Edmonton Warriors (4-1) at 6 p.m.