Red Deer TBS Rampage head coach Ron Just felt all along he had the team that could challenge for a provincial title in Rocky Mountain Junior B Tier I Lacrosse League and a berth in the national finals.
But he also felt they needed just a bit more depth.
He got that at the trade deadline, adding a goaltender from the Crossfield Silvertips and a pair of forwards from Sherwood Park.
“There’s not a lot of trading and they tend to be short term as the guys traded stay until the end of the season then return to their club teams,” explained Just following an 8-7 overtime victory over the Edmonton Warriors at the Kinex Sunday.
“But it’s something to bolster the lineup for the playoffs. We felt we had a really good team that could challenge for a championship, but adding the three guys gives us a full lineup. They all fit the style we play and could be the difference in the playoffs.”
Goaltender Rhett Baldwin was in net Sunday and made a number of outstanding saves late in the third period to allow the Rampage to overcome a 7-5 deficit and force the five-minute sudden death overtime.
Arsh Hazrah and Taylor Osterman are the other two additions.
The Rampage have eight returnees from last season in Mitch Vellner, Spencer Lee, Troy Klaus, Pearce Just, Jordan Hemstad, Reid Swier, Trey Christensen and Darrian Banack.
Cole deGraaf played Junior A last year, but has returned home.
The majority of the other players moved up from the junior B tier II ranks but Mark Griffith played midget last season while Mark Hawthorne and Skyler Sargeant played in Ponoka and Brandyn Blain in Innisfail.
The rest of the roster consists of Chris Amell, Jordy Potter, Kane Weik, Colton Woytas, Dion Daoust and Jayce Grebinski.
“We had a lot of turnover from last year, which took us some time to get going this year, plus we were really shorthanded with some guys not back from university in the States and a couple of injuries,” said Just. “But considering all that I’m happy with our record.”
The Rampage sits first in the North Division with a 12-5-1 record, one point up on the Edmonton Crude, who they face in their final league game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the Kinex.
This season is one of the most competitive in years, according to Just.
“All the years I’ve been involved this is the most competitive,” he said.
“There are four teams in each division that can win at any time. If you’re not into the game and at your best you can lose. But then that’s great as it forces you to be ready, which will only help once you get into the playoffs. We’ve had a lot of tight games this season, and while we’re not always our best, we’ve been able to find a way to scrape out a win.”
Swier, who along with Woytas played in the States, scored the winning goal just 44 seconds into the overtime. In fact he connected with just one second remaining on the shot clock.
“A great shot,” said Just. “It took him and Woytas some time to adjust from field lacrosse (in the States) to box, but this weekend Reid found his scoring touch.”
Swier also scored the tying goal with 3:31 left in the third period.
Klaus and Grebinski added two goals each with Lee and deGraaf connecting once each. The Rampage held a 51-28 edge in shots on goal.
The win completed a weekend sweep by the Rampage, who beat the Okotoks Marauders 19-4 Saturday.
Swier had four goals and five assists with Vellner, Griffith and Lee adding three goals each and Woytas, Klaus, who had four helpers, Daoust, deGraaf, Blain and Sargeant potting single markers.
Baldwin was in goal.
l The Rampage also host the Calgary Chill Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Kinex . . . The semifinal and final in each division will be a best-of-three and the league final between the two division winners, a best-of-five . . . The national final — the Founder’s Cup — will be held in Winnipeg.