Saanich Tigers players needed ice baths, a pair of borrowed pads and an overnight hospital visit during the course of the long weekend and it paid off as the club won the B.C. junior B box lacrosse championship in Burnaby on Sunday.
The host Burnaby Lakers had defeated the Tigers 10-9 during the round robin and took a 9-6 lead into the third period of the gold-medal final.
But the Tigers didn’t panic and, with a tip from former senior A Victoria Shamrock Neil Doddige watching in the stands, outscored the Lakers 6-1 in the third period of the gold medal game to win the provincials 12-10.
“A lot of players put in unbelievable dedication this year to make the Tigers as good as they are,” said head coach Brett Savory.
It’s Savory’s first year with the club. He formerly coached junior A with the Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks, including the Rocks’ 2008 run to the Minto Cup finals.
“(Jr. A Coquitlam Adanacs coach) Doddridge came and tipped me off to something about the Lakers’ defence. We scored two quick goals in the third period and controlled from there,” Savory said.
Captain Ethan Garland led the team with 15 goals and 25 points in four games. He was burdened with leg cramps in the final two matches, which were both on Sunday, and needed ice baths just to finish.
“It was a rewarding feeling that hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I’m starting to realize now that we won. As my last year of lacrosse it’s a good way to finish it,” Garland said.
Originally pegged as a Jr. A player, Garland opted to work in construction and play with his friends on the Tigers the past two seasons.
“These are my best friends, we’re all friends and it’s the first provincial title for a lot of them. We had a blast.,” Garland said.
Rookie Cody Short stepped up on offence and scored a hat trick in the final, with two goals as part of the third period run that won the championship. Sam Tschritter scored the Tigers’ game winning goal.
Earlier in the tournament Tigers’ goalie Cory Mayzes had been called for illegal pads and needed to borrow a pair from the Jr. A Adanacs goalie. Mayzes lost his only pair of pads when he was ejected from the Tigers earlier game on Sunday, a 7-6 win over the Delta Islanders.
“(Delta) was the only team we had really handled in the tournament and were up 7-1 with eight minutes left when they called a pad check on Mayzes. The pads were slightly too wide and we were forced to put Hodgson in net, cold.”
Mayzes had given up just one goal on 26 shots to that point. Hodgson, however, was sticking around despite being ill and dehydrated. He had already been to the hospital for intravenus overnight and was just able to stave off the Islanders’ run of five goals, as the Tigers edged them 7-6.
Derek Jackson was named MVP of the final with a hat trick. He finished the tourney with five goals and 14 points. Jackson was also MVP the junior B All-Star game one month ago.
Manager Chris Jackson started the Tigers three years ago.
“We worked our butts off over (the last three years) making (the Tigers) a team the guys were proud to be apart of whether we won or lost. I’m proud to have been able to share in it with (the team),” he said.
Due to the cost, about $30,000, the Tigers will not attend the Founders Cup national junior B championship in Winnipeg, Aug. 19-25.
“It’s too bad, these guys could do it too,” Savory said.