The Comox Valley Wild are the best Bantam B box lacrosse team in B.C.
They became the local lacrosse association’s first bantam provincial gold medalists July 16-19 in Vancouver, winning four of five games in their eight-team B division.
Along with their individual medals and a championship banner that will soon grace the rafters of the Comox Valley Sports Centre, the Wild were winners at the recognition ceremonies, where Cameron Gregory was named Tournament MVP, Evan Black received a Fair Play award for dedication and sportsmanship, and coach Gary Spaven was voted by his peers to receive the Fair Play Coach award.
The Wild got things rolling Saturday morning with a 13-3 win over Coquitlam. Gregory led the way with five goals and two assists. “It was tied 3-3 after the first period, then we outscored them 10-0,” Spaven said. “(Goalie) Alex Taylor shut the door the rest of the way.” Zac Ohlman added one goal and three assists, and Gregory was Game MVP.
Next was a nail-biter against Kamloops. “We were up 4-1 after two periods,” Spaven recalled. “Kamloops battled back to tie it, then we scored two late ones.” Hunter Benton bagged the game-winner with six minutes to play. Alex Jalbert added two assists and Liam Greeley was Game MVP.
On Sunday morning the Wild suffered their only loss of the tourney, 8-4 to Delta. “We were down 4-3 after two and they just pulled away,” said Spaven, whose team was without two players due to suspensions. Logan Bell had a goal, Rowan Armstrong tallied one goal and one assist, and Logan Bell was Game MVP.
The result left the Wild second in their four-team pool and set up a date with Mission (winners of their pool) in a Sunday afternoon semi-final. “We were down 4-1 going into the third, then we outscored them 7-1 and won 8-5,” Spaven said. Caleb Gadd and Evan Black scored two goals each while Game MVP Dylan Johannes contributed one goal and two assists to the evenly spread scoring.
The Monday morning championship game was against an all-too familiar foe – Juan de Fuca. “We hadn’t beaten them during the season, one tie and three losses,” Spaven said. The Wild seemed ready to post their first win over Juan de Fuca as they carried a 6-2 lead into the third period. But JdF roared back to tie the game 6-6 with 4:49 left in the game. The comeback ended when Game MVP Avery Kampen scored the game winner at 4:03, and the Wild hung on to win 7-6 and earn the gold.
“We got strong goaltending by Alex Taylor and Nathan Sam,” Spaven said, adding Johannes led the way with three goals and one assist. “Other notables throughout the tourney included Boone Trickett with a goal and an assist against Coquitlam along with solid defence by Wyatt Fowler, Matt Knight and Jarvis McKay.”
The Wild were 11-4-1 on the season and 6-4 after the tiering round, finishing third in the league. They dispensed of Campbell River in the first round of the playoffs then knocked off second-seeded Oceanside before losing 7-4 to Juan de Fuca in the Island championship – making their provincial victory all the sweeter.
BOXLA BITS Spaven hands out a hard helmet denoting hard work and effort after every game…winners at the B.C.’s were Taylor, Kampen, Benton, Gadd and Black … Spaven notes the boys played through a lot of injuries, with three players having to miss games…most of the team is moving up to midget next season…the bantam provincials included divisions A1, A2, B and C, with nearly 32 teams playing in three different arenas … Delta defeated Mission 7-2 to win B division bronze … another highlight for the Wild was being hosted by the Coquitlam Adanacs senior team, where they got to stand on the floor alongside the Adanacs for the national anthem …the Wild appreciated the great support from their fans, with almost all the players’ parents in attendance…