The Rockyview Silvertips have made history with their first ever Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) playoff series win when they took down the Calgary Chill two games to one in the best-of-three first round.
The Chill, who finished one game ahead of the 'Tips with their 11-8-1 record, good for second in the Central Division compared to Rockyview's 11-9 tally over the course of the season, took down the locals in last year's best-of-three series by winning the first two games 9-5 and 13-7, ending Rockyview's most successful season to date. This season, the Chill won three out of the four regular season matchups with the lone Silvertips win coming on June 9 when the team got a nine-point effort from Matthew Dyck, a seven point outing from Nolan Oakey and a six point total from Josh Halcro in a 18-10 win.
After losing Game 1 by a lopsided score of 13-2 in which only Hunter McChesney and Josh Halcro scored, the Silvertips' season was on the line in Game 2, facing a similar defeat to last season. In their most important game of the season with their backs against the wall, the 'Tips got a hat trick from Hunter McChesney while also getting two goal performances from Jacob Berg, Ryan Gulutzan and Josh Halcro as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, taking Game 2 by a 13-4 score forcing a decisive Game 3.
In the third game, it was everything a series deciding game should be. Nolan Oakey had three goals, Nathan Lam and McChesney chipped in with multi-goals each while Adam Bartolome and Jacob Berg rounded out the scoring as Rockyview held on for a nailbiting 9-8 victory to advance to the second round against the Red Deer Rampage.
"It means a lot to the team," forward Ryan Gulutzan said of making Silvertips history. "The team is fired up about making history and having success in the playoffs. After losing Game 1, the team believed in each other and we were confident going into Game 2 ... after a huge win, the momentum carried over to Game 3 and helped us win the series."
In Game 1 of the second round, the Rampage defeated the Silvertips by a 10-2 score. Red Deer, who finished atop the Central Division standings with a 12-7-1 record, raced out to a 3-0 lead after the first period. Oakey continued his hot streak with a pretty goal bringing it to 3-1 while Matthew Dyck also scored in the frame to make it 3-2. That's as close as Rockyview would get as the Rampage scored the game's final seven goals to take the first game of the series.
Game 2 took place the following day on a calm night in Cochrane at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre where it was win or go home for the hometown lacrosse heroes, a game where they put up a heck of a fight to keep their season alive. Jordon Waddell, Jacob Berg, Matthew Dyck, Nolan Oakey and Josh Halcro all scored in the first period as the 'Tips took a 5-3 lead to the second period. Red Deer scored four unanswered goals in the second period which erased the two-goal deficit and put the visitors up by two heading into the final period. The teams traded goals with Dyck and Halcro getting their second goals of the game while Alex Wiwcharuk pumped in his first goal of the playoffs and Dylan Neis scoring a shorthanded goal with 22 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for the Silvertips, Red Deer scored four goals of their own and escaped with a 11-9 victory, taking the series two-games-to-none.
"Red Deer has a good transition game and they scored a lot of goals because of it. With playing them in our last two games, we know they're a beatable team if we shut down their transition game," Gulutzan said of the latest series.
"I feel like there was a little bit of a missed opportunity against Red Deer. We lost the division championship against them, which would have been great for the team to win but the real games matter during provincials this weekend."
The Junior B Tier 1 Provincials will kickstart July 26 in Red Deer with the Silvertips, Rampage and Manitoba Blizzard already booking their spots to compete for the Larry Bishop Memorial Cup. The fourth and final team will be decided after the third and final game between the Fort Saskatchewan Rebels and the St. Albert Crude. The final series will take place Aug. 2 to 4.