The Canada Day Tournament celebrated its 36th year, and has developed into one of the largest box lacrosse events in the world with 80 teams from North America competing. It was an alphabet soup of teams from the lacrosse community, including royalty ranging from Six Nations to Division I lacrosse Denver University’s Denver Elite run by Bill Tierney and Matt Brown. Several teams, including the Junior Stealth, were coached by National Lacrosse League professional athletes and coaches, which enhanced the charged atmosphere of the tournament.
New entrants to the tournament, the Junior Stealth were represented in three categories of the “B” bracket; Pee Wee (10 and 11 year olds), Bantam (12 and 13 year olds), and Midget (14 and 15 year olds). Ten points were available in each game; two for each of three periods and four for a win. Each team played two games on Saturday and Sunday, but the Junior Stealth teams played an exhibition game on Friday night to add to the exhausting weekend for the young athletes.
Several families drove the 700 miles to Calgary, while others took to the air over the snow-capped Cascades. After a quick meet-up at the team hotel, the teams took to the rink for their exhibition games. The Pee Wee team kicked it off in a one-sided 14-1 victory over the Calgary Hornets “B” team. The victory was short lived, as the Bantams played the Manitoba “A” team, and were picked apart in a 4-15 loss, while the Midgets played the Calgary Hornets “A” team in a 2-7 defeat.
Tired from the travel and play, the boys retired for the evening, but the Pee Wee team woke early to find the bus waiting at 7:00am on Saturday. Confident from their strong showing the night before, the team performed similarly in the morning, besting their opponent 11-2 and taking the full 10 points. The Junior Stealth teams continued winning through the day and at the end of the evening, had captured 56 out of 60 possible points and stood at the atop their respective brackets. The Junior Stealth generated attention from coaches and parents, as the who’s who of youth box lacrosse visited with the Stealth coaching staff; Lewis Ratcliff, Chris Hall, Brett Hickey and Justin Salt.
At times it seemed like the kids were living the lives of rock stars as they rolled up to the arena in a bus with a full entourage of coaches and fans tending to them. The pampered life stopped at the curb and there would be no green M&Ms in the dressing rooms, as the heavy stench of heavily utilized gear and uniforms wafting through the corridors reminded the young athletes that they were there to do work. Indeed, work was done as the three teams continued to dispatch competitors with alacrity.
Call it Soreness Sunday as stiff muscles made waking difficult, but the bus was waiting again at 7:00am and the Midget team was first up. The first game of the day was a 2-2 draw, but it picked up from there. Mid-Sunday it was clear that each of the teams would play in winners’ brackets, but nobody was prepared to take their foot off the gas yet. By 10:00pm the results were in; the three teams would each play for either gold or silver medals, a remarkable achievement for the newcomers to Calgary.
A dilemma for the Midget team was presented, as the championship game schedule would have the team and its parents missing the return flight or having the team forfeit. A flurry of phone calls by Stealth GM Doug Locker and Junior Stealth Director Lewis Ratcliff ensued and by midnight, the organizers and opposing team had a solution.
Entering the playoffs the Bantams were first up, facing former Stealth player Shaydon Santos’ team from Northern California. Two periods had the Junior Stealth in the lead with some gritty play by both teams, but a second wind and two short-handed goals by Cali Lax were too much to overcome and the Junior Stealth walked away with a silver medal.
The Midget and Bantam teams played concurrently. After three periods, the Midget game was stuck at a 2-2 stalemate and the team was again in danger of missing its flight. A four minute goalless overtime meant the Regina team would take the gold honors based on total points in the tournament. The Pee Wee team was likewise in a battle through the second period, but found its strength and powered past the Denver Elite to take the Junior Stealth’s first Canada Day championships back to Washington.
In the end, the Junior Stealth took home the gold or silver in each age category; a rare result that felt more special as new entrants to the tournament. Just as important, the Stealth coaches and staff, kids and parents had a great time bonding and sharing in an experience to remember. From the bus rides with the Scottish driver Tom doing his best Shrek imitations to the rare opportunity of seeing the legendary Chris Hall on the bench with the kids, Calgary was a blast!
|1/12:36||K. MacWilliam||D. Valade|
|1/12:29||T. Ewen||C. Brown|
|2/10:00||Z. Schuster||L. Morrisseau|
|2/6:19||R. Sasek||L. Morrisseau|
|2/3:35||D. Valade||J. Mahosky|
|3/6:03||D. Valade||R. Sasek|
After one period, the Junior Stealth team led the Prince George Posse by a score of 5-1, which included a dramatic behind the back shot by Ty Ewen. By the end of the second, the Stealth Pee Wee team was up 9-1 with goal contributions from eight different players. After three periods the team had neatly clinched the first game of the tournament with an 11-2 win, earning the maximum 10 points (two points per period and four for a win). Ryan Sasek was named the team MVP.
|1/7:57||R. Sasek||Z. Schuster|
|1/3:49||T. Ewen||L. Morrisseau|
|1/1:40||D. Valade||H. Berke|
|1/0:07||D. Valade||I. Najera|
|2/12:04||T. Ewen||D. Valade||C. Brown|
|2/08:49||R. Sasek||C. Whyte|
|2/4:53||H. Berke||L. Morrisseau|
|2/3:52||T. Ewen||D. Valade|
|2/0:02||L. Morrisseau||T. Ewen|
|3/3:45||D. Hyatt||S. Jacobs|
|3/3:05||J. Mahosky||T. Ewen||Z. Schuster|
|3/2:15||T. Ewen||R. Sasek|
After a break, the teams were back at it. While the Knights put in some spectacular shots, the lopsided score of 16-6 in favor of the Junior Stealth was evidence of this team’s potential at the tournament. Remaining perfect with 10 points, the Pee Wee team had a special performance from Ty Ewing, who earned the MVP award for generating five goals and an assist. It's worth noting that Ryan Sasek had an identical set of stats in the game. At the end of the first day, the Pee Wee’s were alone on the leaderboard with 20 points, followed by Denver Elite with 17 points.
|1/13:55||C. Quigley||T. West||E. James|
|1/0:10||E. James||J. Morris||N. Eggert|
|2/11:27||N. Heritage||I. O'Hern||J. Morris|
|2/10:52||N. Heritage||B. Berke|
|3/12:00||T. Ewen||B. Fujinaga||T. West|
|3/10:28||E. James||N. Heritage|
|3/3:56||E. James||B. Berke||I. O'Hern|
In a first for any Junior Stealth team, Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall, along with Brett Hickey and Justin Salt coached the team to a victory with an 8-6 win and nine points (one tied period, two wins, and the game win). Elliott James and Nathanial Heritage both had hat tricks. Goalie Joe Kosick’s performance of holding off the hungry Sabrecats resulted in a well-deserved MVP honor.
|1/13:25||N. Heritage||I. O'Hern|
|1/7:53||E. James||T. Ewen|
|1/3:07||C. Hoke||E. James|
|2/1:34||N. Heritage||B. Fujinaga|
|3/10:57||T. West||E. James||J. Kosick|
|3/1:26||T. West||C. Hoke|
With the referees calling a tight game, there were 25 minutes of penalties, with the Junior Stealth having 12 minutes worth and the Legends having 13. Special teams were key to success. The Junior Stealth made the most of the opportunity, scoring on power plays and holding the Legends to a single goal. Joe Kosick easily could have taken the MVP honors again, but Trevor West seemed to be everywhere; on breakaways and talking it up on defense, which kept his teammates inspired. West had four goals and one assist in the first period alone. Like the Pee Wee’s, the Bantam team stood at the top of the leader board at the end of Day 1.
|1/8:48||K. Williams||J. McLean|
|1/3:16||J. Wehe||G. Husick|
|2/13:40||E. Batt||K. Williams||J. McLean|
|3/2:26||J. McLean||E. Batt||Z. Lorenz|
After seeing their younger Jr. Stealth team take on Prince George Posse, the Midgets were not about to take the back seat. The physicality of the older youth teams was apparent and the final tally of 8-7 in favor of the Junior Stealth showed how closely matched this bracket would be during the tournament. Our young warriors displayed great heart earning their eight points, and Kaedyn Williams took the MVP prize for his hat trick. The game started with a commanding Stealth 4-1 lead, while Eli Batt, Zach Lorenz, Jason McLean, and James Wehe all added much needed goals to a tight game.
|2/9:56||A. Culver||C. Schuster|
|3/0:27||S. Fosth||E. Batt||M. Lee|
An afternoon break meant evening games for the midget team, which faced the Innisfail Phantoms. The Phantoms were no pushover for the Junior Stealth, but in the end the Washington team mustered the strength to prevail in a 5-3 win, good for nine points. Steele Fosth had a late goal with just 27 seconds on the clock, which kept the opponent from winning the third period and taking two points. Goalie Graham Husick won the MVP award for holding the opponent to just three goals in the 45 minute game. At days end, the Junior Stealth team was in second place with 17 points, just one point behind the Regina.
|1/7:15||Z. Schuster||K. Hoke|
|1/2:45||R. Sasek||Z. Schuster|
|2/14:30||Z. Schuster||T. Ewen|
|2/13:45||R. Sasek||S. Jacobs|
|2/4:17||R. Sasek||D. Valade|
With a full night's rest and a 1:00Pm game start, the Pee Wee team was all smiles loading on the bus. On the floor, it took half the first period for the Junior Stealth to find the back of the net, but once they did the mighty offense never looked back. On defense, the team took a four minute penalty in the third period, but the Chiefs failed to capitalize leaving the Pee Wee team with another 10 point victory.
|1/10:15||C. White||T. Ewen|
|1/8:31||T. Ewen||M. Peters|
|1/7:21||S. Jacobs||D. Valade|
|1/2:42||D. Valade||R. Sasek|
|2/4:41||T. Ewen||Z. Schuster||M. Peters|
|2/12:08||T. Ewen||S. Jacobs|
|2/7:41||T. Ewen||K. MacWilliam|
|3/12:24||D. Valade||R. Sasek|
|3/8:33||S. Jacobs||C. White|
For the last game of the night, the Pee Wee team played the Standing Buffalo, which had looked tough in an earlier game. Coach Ratcliff had confidence in his team after three strong wins, though, and was not to be disappointed once the clock started. The Junior Stealth scored less than a minute into the match, and scored five more before Standing Buffalo answered. By the end of the second period, the score was 9-2 with Ty Ewen accounting for five of the nine. Ewen's performance was notable, as he had by this time played twice as many games as any other player, since he also played on the Bantam team.
|1/4:36||C. Quigley||J. Zerba|
|2/12:49||E. James||B. Berke|
|2/7:10||C. Hoke||E. James|
|3/13:36||T. West||N. Eggert|
|3/7:22||N. Eggert||J. Morris|
|3/4:19||E. James||C. Quigley||T. West|
|3/0:14||E. James||T. Ewen|
The Bantams had a little extra sleep on Sunday, but faced the Winnipeg Elite in a battle of wills. Tied at 1-1 in the first, the Junior Stealth were then outscored in the second to close the period at 4-5. The teams traded goals during the third and with the game looking to end in a draw, Elliott James cut through the middle with a feed by Tyler Ewen and delivered the winning goal with just 14 seconds on the clock.
|1/0:16||E. James||B. Berke||J. Morris|
|2/11:37||T. Ewen||N. Heritage||T. West|
|2/9:55||N. Eggert||B. Berke||E. James|
|2/7:37||B. Berke||E. James|
|2/3:55||T. Ewen||J. Zerba|
|3/12:45||I. O'Hern||T. West|
|3/10:10||J. Morris||T. West|
The late afternoon game was a difficult match for the competitor, who saw early penalties exploited by the Junior Stealth. Down 6-0, the opposing coach took his team off the turf in frustration only to return several minutes later to receive another penalty for delay of game. The Junior Stealth remained composed under the leadership of Coaches Hall and Hickey, and did well in sticking to the game plan. Seven different team members scored for the Junior Stealth, securing the right to play for gold in the next day.
|1/0:34||A. Culver||Z. Lorenz|
|3/4:44||K. Williams||J. Wehe|
The Midget team started Sunday playing the Okotoks Mustangs at 8:00am. Tired legs and a tough competitor made for a low scoring game ending in a 2-2 tie. With each team winning one period and both failing to score in the second, the teams split the 10 points possible with five each. Ajay Culver and Kaedyn Williams found the back of the net for the Junior Stealth, with assists coming from Zack Lorenz and James Wehe.
|1/1:55||E. Batt||C. Martin|
|1/0.40||K. Williams||S. Fosth||A. Culver|
|2/5:02||E. Batt||K. Williams||J. McLean|
|2/3:39||K. Williams||J. McLean|
|2/2:10||Z. Lorenz||C. Martin||M. Lee|
|3/9:42||K. Williams||J. McLean|
|3/2:28||C. Martin||S. Fosth|
|3/0:58||K. Williams||F. Forrisseau|
With uncertainty in the standings due to the earlier tied game, the Midget team was determined to stand tall for its last game leading into playoffs. Shots missed wide or were deftly handled by the net minders for the first 12 minutes of the game, then the Junior Stealth unleased three in just over two minutes. Five minutes into the second period Eli Batt took a four minute penalty, but the Junior Stealth's man-down team managed to neatly kill and three others during the game without giving up a single goal. Batt's redemption was a hat trick, which was supplemented by four from Captain Kaedyn Williams.