Lethbridge native Kyle Oliver (red) was narrowly defeated by Lucas Craston of Ontario for bronze in the 60kg weight class of boxing at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Alberta’s Janick Lacroix fights to honour late coach, earns silver at 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta’s Janick Lacroix can still hear the words of Mike Kucik echoing when he fights.

Kucik, Lacroix’s coach in Saskatchewan was killed in 2016 and the fighter moved to Medicine Hat to work with coach Kerry Fahlman.

Lacroix’s two-year journey to the 2019 Canada Winter Games concluded Wednesday in Red Deer with a silver medal in the 75-kilogram category. He said regardless of the result, coach Mike is always on his mind.

“I’ve been through a lot, I’ve worked hard and I’m really proud of myself. I fought for my old coach Mike. I always fight for him, everything I do is for him now. I really want to thank all the people that helped me,” Lacroix said.

“Sometimes I’m in the corner and Kerry (Fahlman) is talking and I can hear Mike’s voice from the other corner. He’s always there with me.”

The 16-year-old lost 3-2 to Moe Zawadi in his fight Wednesday, but from the crowd reaction, some thought Alberta had won gold.

“It was definitely a battle out there. We went three rounds, slugged it out. Really good competition. He was really tough, judges decision. I let it up to them. Partly my fault.

“Silver is a big deal. I was coming here for gold, but I’ll take what I can get and come back stronger for nationals.”

Alberta’s Cole Brander also ran into an unstoppable force on the final day of boxing.

Brander was battling for gold in the 56-kilogram category at Westerner Park before he encountered a three-time Canadian national championship out of Québec.

The champ, Avery Martin Duval won the bout and took gold over Brander, but the Alberta athlete said he was proud of his performance.

“I’m happy with some aspects of my performance, I can always do better. It was the first time I fought him,” said Brander.

“He’s a three national champion for a reason. We’re going to come back stronger next time, we’ll see him at nationals, make the adjustments that we need to and I’ll do my best to get that gold at nationals.”

Brander, 18, fighting out of Edmonton said that considering the year he’s had, battling injuries and mental health issues as a result of those injuries, he was just happy that he was able to come to the games and compete against the best fighters in Canada.

“Being with all my friends and having all my coaches here supporting me,” Brander added.

“I’ve gone through a lot to be here, suffered injuries and some mental health problems because of the injuries. That’s just how it happens. We got here and we got silver, it’s gold next time, I’m excited.”

Team Alberta’s Kyle Oliver also fought on Wednesday in the 60kg category for bronze only lost a tight 3-2 decision to Ontario’s Lucas Craston. Oliver, 17, out of Lethbridge was last in Red Deer at the 2018 Alberta Golden Gloves and won gold. He said the loss stings a bit, but he thought he fought well.

“I thought I was winning, I wasn’t as active as I should have been. At the same time, I’ve been a bit tired and I have a hurt wrist. The way my last performance went, it was weighing heavy on me and I guess I didn’t do enough,” Oliver said.

In the 60kg gold medal bout, Brayden Sims of B.C. beat Justice Harborne (Ontario).

Sammy Morisset of Québec won gold in the 64kg category, with Alex Bulgaru (Nova Scotia) taking silver and Mason Galvao (Ontario) earning bronze.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate staff Lethbridge native Kyle Oliver (red) was narrowly defeated by Lucas Craston of Ontario for bronze in the 60kg weight class of boxing at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Alberta’s Janick Lacroix fought for gold in the 75kg category on Wednesday, but fell just short and settled for silver. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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