The West Kootenay Timberwolves couldn’t defend their 2018 lacrosse title.
Instead, the Cranbrook Junior Outlaws were crowned champions on Saturday after sweeping the Timberwolves in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Tier III Championship.
The Outlaws won 13-7 and 14-6 at Memorial Arena in Cranbrook on July 5 and 6, respectively, in the best-of-three series against their rivals.
“It was good,” Russ Sheppard, head coach of the Cranbrook Junior Outlaws, told the Cranbrook Townsman. “It doesn’t matter what level you are playing at when a team of youth work their butts off all year and work hard, going through the grind of a season — anytime you can pull out your last game as a win, is always a good feeling.”
The Outlaws finished the 2019 box lacrosse season with a 6-5-1 record, while the Timberwolves were 4-7-1.
It was a close season all year with the Timberwolves carving out a 3-3-1 record against the Outlaws going into championship play.
Despite the set-back, West Kootenay head coach Peter Youngblut was impressed with the way his team gutted out the final two games.
“We are very proud of this group, how they have come together, and what they have accomplished,” said Youngblut.
The Timberwolves’ Eric Reid and Dustin Perepolkin each scored four goals, and Brian Martin from Genelle contributed two goals. Salmo’s Cale Seftel and Rossland’s Alex Forshaw and Mitchell Bowman each added one goal to the series total. That was not enough to stay ahead of the Outlaws in a Championship series that saw both teams deliver a solid effort.
“Our players really learned how to be a lacrosse team this season,” said T-wolves’ Assistant Coach Rob Van Beek. “The end result wasn’t what we wanted, but the boys left it all on the floor. We had short bench with some injuries. With a few more numbers it could have easily gone our way.”
Having played the Timberwolves many times this season, the Outlaws coach said there was a special type of intensity for the playoffs.
“Anytime you play a team that many times, you are going to develop a pretty fierce rivalry,” said Sheppard. “Lacrosse is very physical and very intense so that even added a little bit more. I think by the end of the second game you could see there was definitely no love lost between the two teams.”
With the Tier III Championship, the Junior Outlaws hope to be able to move up a tier for next season. The Tier II division is larger and includes two conferences and four division with teams from Northern and Southern Alberta.
The Championship series wraps up the Timberwolves’ 2019 season. Individuals born between 1999 and 2003 interested in trying out for the 2020 season are encouraged to contact the team for information on off-season floor time in the Kootenays. Previous lacrosse experience is not required.
For more information on lacrosse in the Kootenays email firstname.lastname@example.org.