The Blackfalds Silverbacks closed out the regular season right where they wanted to be – atop their division and making a return to the postseason.
After missing the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) playoffs for the first time in their seven-year history last season, making it back was the Senior C team’s main mission, and it was one they accomplished with an 11-3-1 record.
“This was a bounce-back year for us,” said Silverbacks Assistant Captain Ray Williams. “We knew we had the right core group of guys and guys coming in… We’ve grown over the season quite a bit.”
The past weekend proved how much of a bounce-back the season was, with two all-important back-to-back wins. The first came Saturday afternoon at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, where they defeated the RMLL’s newest senior c team, the St. Albert Miners, 14-9.
Heading into the third period, the Silverbacks were only up by one goal, but managed to pull ahead the final frame.
“Picking it up in the third was big for us because the sticks definitely weren’t clicking in the first and second,” said Williams. “The key today was just sticking with the game plan, knowing we were going to wear them down and eventually come out ahead.”
Braden Smith led all players with five goals and five assists, while Williams himself had four goals and six assists. Shandi Werenka added another two goals and an assist, while Logan Sinclair had another two goals. Patrick Kirklady also scored his first goal in the third period.
While it didn’t show on the scoresheet, some of that offence was generated by the return of Riley Rockarts, who’d been out with a wrist injury, as well as Andrew Munden.
“Having those guys back makes a world of difference,” said Williams.
“Really reliable sticks. The back end is shoring up nice – guys are making the right decisions out there and becoming mean and hard to play against.”
The momentum from the win was carried into Sunday, where they picked up a crucial 17-2 win over the Vermilion Rage on the road which secured home floor advantage for the Silverbacks when they face the Edmonton Warriors in the first round of playoffs.
The Warriors and Silverbacks have fought all season long over first place in the north. In head-to-head meetings, the Warriors won two games to the Silverbacks one. They also tied 10-10 mid-June.
Still, there’s little doubt in the Silverbacks minds that they’re capable of taking not only round one of senior c playoffs, but the provincial banner.
“This is a championship team,” said Williams. “We’ve won more provincial championships than we’ve lost.”
They’ll begin their quest for another on July 21 in a best-of-three series against the Warriors. Following that, the winner will play in Airdrie for the provincial title.