While it was a disappointing end to their Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) the Rockyview Silvertips can take some solace in the fact that they've gone further than any Silvertips team of the past. Yes they dropped out of the Junior B provincial tournament without a medal, but this resilient group of young men survived a late-season losing streak, overcame losing Game 1 of their first-round series to a divisional rival and managed to build off of last season's success by winning the first playoff game and series in franchise history while also booking their first ticket to the provincial tournament that took place in Red Deer on July 26 and 27.
"It was an awesome experience for everyone on the team," said forward Nolan Oakey. "Four games in two days was very tough on our bodies, especially when you play the best teams in the league. That was our ninth game in ten days with playoffs so guys were so tired after the tournament but it was a lot of fun. Our team had never quit on a game all year and we weren't about to start so we muscled through the games."
The 'Tips started off the tournament with a morning game on July 26 by playing the Red Deer Rampage, the team who knocked them out of the second round of the RMLL playoffs. Red Deer went on an early game run, scoring six first period goals to take a 6-0 lead into the break before Jordon Waddell finally got Rockyview on the board. Nolan Oakey, Matthew Dyck, Adam Bartolome and Hunter McChesney also scored in the contest but it wasn't enough as Red Deer came away victorious by a score of 13-5.
The team didn't have much time to rest and reflect as they were back on the turf later that afternoon against the Manitoba Blizzard. Colby Gulutzan scored a goal in his first game back in the team due to work committments which sandwiched a pair of goals from Matthew Dyck in a back-and-forth period that ended in a 3-3 tie. Dyck had an outstanding remainder of the game scoring four more goals for a total of seven while getting help from his friends who chipped in with seven goals of their own. Dyck finished the night with nine points in the game while Josh Halcro had seven thanks to his six assists and Nolan Oakey had five points in the 14-10 victory.
The hometown heroes wrapped up the tournament with a pair of games on the 27th against the Calgary Shamrocks and the Fort Saskatchewan Rebels. After a very tough 14-1 loss to the Shamrocks in which Nolan Oakey scored the only goal, the team bounced back with a much better effort against the Rebels.
Hunter McChesney, Oakey and Dyck all had three goals apiece while captain Colby Gulutzan added the final goal of the season for the Silvertips as they lost by a 16-10 margin.
"Everybody is proud of what we did this past year," Oakey said of the current group of Silvertips putting their stamp on the team history books. "But we want to improve on this year and take it into next season."
"The thing I'm going to miss the most is just the dressing room and playing lacrosse with a bunch of friends. We'll have a lot of guys coming back next year so to have that bond already built will be key. The team knows what it takes to win and will put everything on the line to do so."
Two players who won't be returning are Matthew Dyck and Jordon Waddell, who both respectively played in their final game over the weekend. They brought a lot to the table that will be hard to replace.
"I think they did a lot for the organization with bringing in their experiences to the team," Oakey said. We're a young group so to have a couple veteran players is always helpful. Last year coming in I was a rookie and I learned a lot from Matt and this year I'm sure the rookies learned a ton from both Matt and Jordon."