The Nanaimo Acme Painting Timbermen returned from Montreal on Monday, tired and sore, but content.
They did not come back with a medal from the President's Cup - the senior B lacrosse national championship - but they finished strong, winning their final two games, and grabbing fifth place. The tournament will serve as big lesson as they continue to build towards joining the West Coast Senior B Lacrosse Association elite. They lost in the second round to the Tri-City Bandits for the second-straight year this season.
"Having this experience made some of these guys realize how fun it was and hopefully they look forward to preparing themselves to do whatever it takes to get back there next year," said head coach Mike Maughan, adding the Tri-City Bandits are hosting next year.
The Timbermen started the tournament slowly, losing their opening game 15-6 to the host Kahnawake Mohawks.
Their toughest loss, however, was their next game, an 8-5 defeat to the Calgary Mountaineers. They viewed that game as their opportunity to make the medal round, and held a 4-1 lead in the second period before it slipped away.
In their second game of that day, they were routed 13-7 by the Caughnawaga Indians and they followed that up with a 12-5 loss to the St. Catherines Saints on Thursday afternoon. Those two teams played in Sunday's championship final, with the Saints winning 8-5.
Nanaimo finally broke through on Friday, beating Quebec's Capital Region Axemen 12-3 and then finished their tournament on Saturday with a 10-8 win over the Onodaga Redhawks.
"As a coach I felt really good for the players, because we definitely had some tough losses," said Maughan. "To see the players come out and finish with two strong wins after that just showed how strong willed the players and how much heart they showed."
Timbermen defender Russell Thomas was named a tournament second team all-star, scoring six points (four goals, two assists) in five games.
"(Thomas) is a pretty invaluable guy to have on your roster, he can do anything you ask," said Maughan.
"I had him playing all over the place. One game I had him on offence, the next I had him on defence and then there were games where he was playing both.
"He's a pretty tireless player, he's one of those guys who seems to be able to run for days."
Forward Jon Diplock lead the team in scoring with 20 points (7-13-20) in six games.
BUCCANEERS WRAP EXHIBITION WITH A TIE
The Nanaimo Buccaneers finished their Vancouver Island Junior B Hockey League exhibition season with a 0-2-1 record after tying the Oceanside Generals 5-5 on Saturday in Parksville. Jonathan Speer, Nolan Richardson, Chad Bell, Noah Russi and Will McNamara scored for the Buccaneers.
Alex Mastrodonato made his debut in net for Nanaimo, making 21 saves in 40 minutes. The Buccaneers open their regular season on Thursday, hosting the Campbell River Storm at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES - Three North Island Silvertips players have made the opening day roster for Western Hockey League clubs. Forward Patrick Bajkov will start the season with the Everett Silvertips while Nicholas Gomerich and Ryan Coghlan made the cut with the Saskatoon Blades. .. Former Vancouver Island Raiders star quarterback Jordan Yantz led the University of Manitoba Bison to a 65-41 win over the University of Alberta Golden Bears in his debut, finishing 14-for-19 for 215 yards four touchdowns and one interception. Ex-Raiders receivers Andrew Smith had three catches for 40 yards and two touchdowns, while Matt Sawyer had two catches for eight yards for the Bisons as well.
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