One of only two teams eligible for the provincial senior C lacrosse title, the Cowichan Rats held their own, going 2-2 against some stacked clubs from across the province at a dual-purpose tournament in Port Coquitlam last weekend.
Any senior C team in B.C. could enter the Glen Moose Memorial Tournament, but only teams that stuck to rigorous rules about pickup players were eligible for the provincial title. That left only the Rats and host Port Coquitlam Hitmen in contention for the B.C. championship, as other teams opted to load their rosters with pickups.
Cowichan’s first game of the tournament, early Friday afternoon, ended up deciding the provincial championship as the Rats squared off with the Hitmen, who won the Lower Mainland’s West Central Senior C Lacrosse League title this summer. With only 12 runners, the Rats held a 1-0 lead after the first period, but got into penalty trouble and trailed 5-2 after the second before ultimately falling by a 7-3 final score that didn’t tell the whole story.
Landon Underwood, a pickup player from the Vancouver Island champion Saanich Express, led the Rats with a goal and two assists. Dylan Dewarle and Brayden Zunti also scored, and Mathieu Jung had two helpers. Darian Claxton, also borrowed from the Express, made 42 saves.
Needing to win their next two games in order to qualify for the medal round, the Rats added two more players to the lineup for their second game on Friday evening. Trailing the Thompson-Okanagan Senior C Lacrosse League champion Kelowna Raiders by a single goal after 20 minutes, the Rats were stymied in the second and had to settle for a 10-4 loss when the dust settled.
Dewarle led the offence with a goal and three assists, Underwood, Zunti and Tyson Black also scored, and Gordon Robb had one helper. Ryan Brabander kept Cowichan in the game with 41 saves.
The Rats closed out pool play with an 11-4 victory over the North Shore Indians, who were also struggling in terms of numbers. A sloppy opening period got the Rats into a bit of a hole, but it was all Cowichan from then on.
Black had four goals and two assists and Underwood had a hat trick and one assist. Hunter Hieta scored twice and Pete Vanden Dungen and Kevin Rothbauer also found the net. Robb and Jung each had two assists, and Brabander and Dustin Parker (a pickup from the Queensboro River Rats) each had single helpers. Claxton and Brabander combined to stop 25 of 29 shots.
The battle for fifth-place pitted the Rats against their Island rivals, the Victoria Blazers. The Rats went ahead 4-2 in the first, but some admittedly atrocious game management allowed the Blazers to get pull ahead 6-5 in the second. The Rats rallied in the third to win 8-7.
Black had his second straight four-goal game, and Jung had a goal and five assists. Vanden Dungen had a goal and two assists, Robb and Dewarle each had a goal and one assist, and Underwood added a helper. Brabander and Claxton combined to make 20 stops.