Crude hosts big game
St. Albert's undefeated junior B Tier 1 lacrosse team battles the perennial provincial champion Calgary Mountaineers tonight at 8 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Jun 07, 2014 06:00 am
The most anticipated game of the year for the St. Albert Crude will showcase the junior B Tier 1 provincial contenders in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League.
Tonight the Crude, last year’s finalists who are running away with the north division pennant at 8-0-1, host the defending champion Calgary Mountaineers, national silver medallists at the 2013 Founders’ Cup in Winnipeg.
It’s also the feature game at the annual Jeremy Richardson Memorial Baggataway Tournament in St. Albert. Ball drop is 8 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s one of those games that you look forward to, especially in the position we’re in right now,” said Crude captain Erik Turner. “Last year we didn’t get the chance to play them in the regular season (because of the flood in Calgary), and now we’re getting the chance to do that here at Akinsdale in our home rink in front of what we’re hoping will be a pretty big crowd.”
The Crude are winners of eight in a row and the Mountaineers are the top team in the south at 7-1.
“We’re undefeated right now but we’re staying humble,” Turner said. “We all recognize the fact the Mountaineers have pretty much run this league for the last six or seven years continuously winning it (seven straight years) and going to the Founders’ Cup so we’re staying hungry and fighting for victories and just finding ways to win. We’re still not at a point where we want to be at all. You can tell with all the close games we’ve been playing so there is lots to work on.”
Last year the Crude – the first St. Albert team to reach the junior B Tier 1 final since the 2004 Rams – lost the best-of-five championship in three games during a three-day span to the Mountaineers by scores of 10-7 and 16-4 in Calgary and 17-3 at home.
“A big thing we did last year that hurt us was we were one dimensional offensively, especially myself. I was keeping the ball too much on the side with me instead of kind of spreading it around and they keyed on it right away after that first game and pretty much shut down our offence that way,” said Turner, ranked second in the north in goals with 43 and points at 90 in only 13 games in 2013 and in the RMLL playoffs led all scorers with 17 goals and 36 points in nine games.
“What we’re going to try and do this year is spread it out a lot more. We have a lot more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Our defence is so strong this year as well. It’s definitely going to be a lot different game than those three games last year.”
The Crude are coming off their most determined and satisfying effort of the season in Sunday’s 8-7 come-from-behind overtime victory against the host Red Deer Rampage (5-4-1).
The Crude fired three unanswered goals in the third period to force sudden-death and Turner’s penalty shot with 1:58 left in OT completed the comeback.
The Crude are 2-0-1 this season against the team they beat in the deciding game in last year’s best-of-three north final.
“They’re a tough team to play. They’re very high tempo, very in your face and they pressure all over the floor,” Turner said.
The Crude trailed 7-4 after two periods. The teams ended the first knotted at four.
Backup netminder Bruce Ingraham, a recent injury replacement, started for the Crude and was replaced by Troy Boucher to start the third.
Turner’s second power-play goal of the third was the equalizer with 19.9 ticks on the clock.
“With it being our second game of the weekend (the Crude defeated the Saskatoon-based Saskatchewan Swat 11-4 Saturday in St. Albert) it was pretty evident that a lot of our team was tired. You could tell for the first two periods but a big sign of this team’s character is how we were able to rally in the third period. We came together as a group. The defence shut it down completely. We didn’t allow any goals in that period. We were able to come out and score quickly twice (14 seconds apart in the opening minute of the third) to get us to within one and then we were able to get a power play with two minutes left and I got the opportunity to get the ball and take a good shot and it went in.
“They still had 19 seconds left so our defence had to lock it down one more time and they did just that and we went to overtime and the rest is kind of history.”
A too-many-men penalty to the Rampage in OT, which is an automatic penalty shot, set the stage for Turner’s hat-trick marker. It was his 12th goal and 23rd point in four games since returning from his junior field lacrosse campaign with the Cornell Big Red.
“Our defence did a really good job of getting off the floor quickly once we got the ball and it put a lot of pressure on them to make a quick change and they just ended up with too many guys on the floor,” Turner said. “I got a chance to go in one on one with the goalie and I was just kind of running in at an angle, trying to figure out what he was going to do. I didn’t really have to do much, not too many fancy things, because he kept backing into his net and he got to the point where he gave me the whole bottom right corner and I just shot it in there.”
Big Red player
Turner, 21, is coming off his third season with the Big Red, 11-5 overall as the NCAA’s 13th-ranked team
“It was awesome. Every year there is a pretty cool experience and a great opportunity. I get to learn so much in terms of lacrosse and off the field in terms of what it takes to kind of function in this world,” said the college of arts and sciences’ student, one of three Canadians and the lone Albertan on Cornell’s 36-man roster. “We started off the season really well. We went 9-0 through our first nine games and then kind of hit a bump in the middle and we lost three straight but then bounced back. We were able to make the NCAA tournament and in a pretty brutal way we lost (8-7) to Maryland in the first round. They scored with two seconds left to get their first lead of the game.”
The attackman/midfielder (“I just try and score goals, basically the same as here.”) believes he is a better box lacrosse player because of the Cornell experience.
“I get to play with very high calibre players and against high calibre players so it’s extremely helpful,” said the former midget A St. Albert Ram and St. Francis Xavier High School graduate.” (Field lacrosse) is a different skill set. You learn a lot more of how to isolate guys and how to go one on one with guys. It definitely improves your field vision because you’re always kind of anticipating where the defenders are going to come from.”
Sunday the Crude play the Rockyview Silvertips (1-8) at 3 p.m. in Airdrie.