From day one this season, the Red Deer Rampage Junior B Tier 1 lacrosse team made it clear their goal was the Founders’ Cup or bust.
Head coach Trey Christensen made that proclamation back in April when the regular season kicked off and Sunday the team came through with the delivery.
Red Deer turned a silver medal performance at the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Championship into a berth for the National Junior B Lacrosse tournament.
“Fantastic, fantastic experience,” the head coach said of the RMLL final tournament.
The Rampage rolled their way to three straight wins at the year-end tournament and lined up against the Manitoba Blizzard in the final on Monday afternoon.
While Red Deer dropped the gold medal game 12-8 to Manitoba, both teams earned a spot as provincial representatives in the junior B national lacrosse championship from Aug. 14-20 in Saskatoon, Sask.
Before the final loss, Red Deer had won 17 games in a row. Christensen added that after realizing they had qualified for the Founders’ Cup, it was tough to get the team to refocus for the gold medal game.
“They know what works and what doesn’t,” Christensen said of the big takeaways from the league final. “It’ll be how they take this loss. The big thing is recovering.”
Red Deer led the final 2-1 after the first, but the Blizz surged ahead to take a 9-5 lead after two periods and never looked back.
Christensen said the biggest challenge his team will face at the national tournament is inexperience. While most teams there will have a veteran laden lineup of fourth and fifth-year junior B players, his team only has a handful of those. On the positive side, that bodes well for the future.
Red Deer will also play six games in six days at the Founders’, another hurdle for the young roster.
“We’re still so young but we feel like we still have a chance to compete and bring it home. It’s going to be tough but at the end of the day it’s also going to be a great experience for our guys,” Christensen said. “Not only do we have the mindset of win now but we’re still one of the youngest teams in the league.”