When you hold your opposition to two goals in lacrosse, 99 per cent of the time you win that game.
Unfortunately for the Red Deer Bantam A Chiefs, they fell into that final one per cent in their 2-1 defeat to the Calgary Axemen in the gold medal game at the 24th annual Tradition Lives Lacrosse Tournament in Red Deer.
After six games in three days, down three players, they were flat out gassed.
“The last game we played against them, I think it was 14-11, so the defence on both sides was a lot better today,” said Chiefs head coach Steve Hills.
Captain Dolan Hills scored the lone goal for Red Deer, as they dug a 2-0 hole through the first period and a half. Brendan Godwin, meanwhile was rock solid in net for the Chiefs giving them every opportunity to stay in the game.
The Chiefs dropped the first game of the tournament, 12-9 to the Sherwood Park Titans, but rebounded to beat the Calgary Hornets 7-5, the Edmonton Warriors 9-7, the Rockyview Rage 8-1 and then topped the Hornets on Sunday morning to put them in the final.
A common theme in those games was the strong play of Godwin.
“We try not to lean on him, but when we do have to he definitely pulls through,” said Hills.
Still, a silver medal is something for the Chiefs to build off of as they prepare for a run at provincials this season. Full results were not available at presstime.
The bantam As were not the only Chiefs’ team to have a good tournament as several other teams from the association also earned medals.
“Definitely against Calgary and Edmonton they have significantly larger numbers than we do, it’s nice to see that Red Deer can be competitive against the bigger clubs,” said tournament director Shelley Koger.
The Tradition Lives tournament attracted 76 teams from Alberta and B.C., as 1,239 kids battled it out for bragging rights. Koger says the tournament continues to get bigger every year, even if it is no longer biggest tournament in Alberta, it is still the oldest and one of the most prestigious.
“It’s part of the overall growth of the game of lacrosse,” said Koger. “We have a lot of field lacrosse players getting into box lacrosse to play year-round, it’s becoming a year round game.”
The tournament is an important one for Red Deer and the Red Deer Lacrosse Association with the vast majority of teams coming in from other centres with parents and family coming to town, staying in hotels or camping and buying food and gas among other things.
Koger says the local community does get behind the tournament in terms of sponsorship, including their top two sponsors Slash Lacrosse and The Grind Sports who get involved on more than just a financial basis.
It takes many hands to put on the weekend long tournament which included 154 games in three days at the Dawe Arena, the Kinsmen Arenas, the Collicutt Centre and the Kinex Arena.
“It’s run solely on volunteers,” said tournament co-chairman Audrey Pennycook. “Every parent in our association is involved in this on some level to make this a success.”