The Red Deer Renegades have been eagerly awaiting Saturday for what seems like a lifetime.
After the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Junior B Tier II regular season ended for them on June 16, they are finally ready for playoff action.
Red Deer finished second in the South West Division with a 13-1 record and earned a bye in the first round. Once the first round finished, the league took a break for the Canada Day weekend, which means the Renegades finally have a chance to hit the floor.
“Boys are ready to go, excited to be playing in playoffs. Hopefully, we can put on a good show for everyone,” said Renegades head coach Mike Clark.
They’ll host the High River Heat Saturday at 1 p.m., with game 2 of the best-of-three series set for Sunday at 1 p.m. Red Deer won the only game between the two teams this year, 15-10. Clark expects it to be a battle.
“It was a good competitive game, that’s what we’re expecting again. They’re well coached and hopefully we can come out with a couple W’s this weekend and punch our ticket through,” he added.
Red Deer had a prolific offence this year, scoring 236 goals in 14 games. Still, Clark likes where their defence is at and expects the offence to produce.
“Defence has been super strong and obviously our offence is putting the ball in the net when they’re supposed to,” Clark said.
“We have a lot of graduating players and they are playing their butts off for their last year.”
You might wonder how the Renegades finished second with just one loss. Their Central Alberta rival just down the highway in Sylvan Lake earned top spot in the division via a tiebreaker. The Renegades knocked off the Yetti 8-7 on May 3 and the Yetti got revenge on May 22 with an 18-7 win. Overall, Sylvan Lake had a slightly better goals for/goals against differential on the season (159 compared to 146) to earn first in the division.
If the Renegades are able to get by the Heat, it could set up a repeat of the 2018 RMLL South West Final, with those same Yetti. Sylvan Lake plays a pair of home games this weekend against the Medicine Hat Sun Devils.
Last year, the Renegades knocked off the Yetti in the South West final and advanced to the Junior B Tier II Provincials, only to come home with bronze. As a veteran group, Clark thinks they are a bit more motivated this time around.
“They’re a little hungrier this time around, you get a taste of success and you just want more when you fall short,” Clark said.
The Renegades play Saturday and Sunday at the Kinex, while the Yetti host the Sun Devils at the Nexsource Centre Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.