The North Okanagan Legends claimed the silver medal in the B.C. Pee Wee C Lacrosse Championships Sunday in Kamloops.
The underdog Legends bowed 6-3 to the Vancouver-Killarney Burrards in the final after clipping the Sunshine Coast 3-2 in the semis. The Burrards upset Vanderhoof in the other semifinal.
Tourney all-star Rowan Miller gave the Legends an early lead in the gold-medal game, but the Burrards grabbed a 2-1 first-period lead.
Vancouver went into a defensive shell to protect the lead and the Legends brought it to within 3-2 with a goal by Kael Black. An uncharacteristic miscue from the Legends put the Burrards up 4-2 after two.
The Legends fought hard against the Burrards’ 1-4 defence and Quintin Kimble managed to free up Miller to bring it to 5-3 with a couple of minutes left before the Burrards added an empty-netter.
The semifinal was an absolute goalie clinic with Derek Pereboom of the Legends going save-for-save with Noah Sheldon, arguably the best goalie at the provincials at any level.
The Sunshine crew found a seam in the Legends’ defence and squeaked one through Pereboom for the only goal of the first period. Sunshine Coast went up 2-0 early in the second even though the Legends were carrying the play.
The Legends seemed frustrated and were visibly shaken by the inability to put one past Sheldon. Assistant coach Rob Spraggs reminded the team that every shift counts and it was on everyone, not just the individuals, to rally the team to victory.
The two underage pickups, JD Spraggs and Tye Krause, rallied around the words and set the tone for the second period, picking up loose balls and taking the game to the Sunshine entry.
Energized by the young pickups’ play, Zach Gares moved himself into an open area, gave the ball to Miller, who quickly moved it to Black, who burned one by Sheldon.
A fluke goal by Miller put the Legends even and then the improbable happened. Assistant coach Riley Spraggs saw a hole in Sheldon’s game and told Owen McKill to exploit the long shot from the middle when he wasn’t expecting it. Seeing an opportunity, McKill moved the ball up to Game MVP Aidan Spraggs, who avoided the Sunshine pressure and gave McKill a perfect pass to unleash a rocket shot that surprised Sheldon.
“We played a really great tournament as a team,” said North Okanagan head coach Lynn Spraggs. “We struggled at the beginning of the year and it didn’t look good, but the parents and players were really supportive of what we planned out and I think every player improved. That every single player on our roster registered a point in the provincials, including the goalie, is a credit to every player on the team and their work ethic.
“We didn’t rely on a couple of guys to do everything just to win; we put players in a positive environment to succeed and we got the best game from everyone. This team succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. It was awesome.”
The Legends started the B.C. playdowns on a tear, building up a 5-0 lead and doubling Delta 12-6.
Brayden Norlin, Miller (5+2), Kimble and Black (2+1) supplied first-period snipes. Delta overcame the initial onslaught to make things competitive, but the Legends rallied behind goals by Krause and Gares, and assists by the Warrior Fair Play Award winner Spraggs and his defensive partner McKill. Alex Riches rounded out the scoring with Miller earning game MVP.
The North Okanagan then fell 7-4 to the Burrards with Vancouver scoring on their first shift and making it 2-0 before Norlin set up Miller (3) before the first period finished.
Black and Miller dominated in the second period, with Pereboom drawing an assist on the final goal. Jack Riches was named game MVP.
Knowing that a spot in the finals was all but assured with the Burrards’ defeat of Deltas earlier in the morning, the Legends chose to work on their game against the feisty, but depleted West Kootenay roster with a 12-0 victory. Gares picked up the MVP.
Vanderhoof stopped the Sunshine Coast 3-1 for the bronze.