The Junior B season is ready to begin in a normal fashion for the first since 2019.
The Lakeland Heat Jr. B lacrosse team, after a Provincials run three years ago, is ready to turn the page on Friday to begin a new campaign.
After missing 2020, and having an exhibition schedule last summer, Jr. B head coach Daryl Hodinsky says he is eager to see what the Heat can do this year.
“It’s really exciting to be back on the floor with the boys for a full season. I’m really excited to see where we fit in the group because we had a really strong team last year, and we did quite well,” said Hodinsky.
“The boys are really eager to get out there and get involved. I’m hoping to get the boys involved in the community a little bit this year.”
Splitting games between Cold Lake and Bonnyville, the team is comprised of 25 players, including two goaltenders. With that said, they’re a younger team than in seasons past, with just one 21-year-old on the squad.
“We’re a young team. But I think we’re going to compete quite well,” said Hodinsky. “Everyone’s able to catch and throw, and it’s really enabling me to run fast paced, high intensity practices and the boys seem to really be enjoying them.
“I think we’re going to be a well rounded team, we may sort of lack on the top end skill, but I think that our bottom end is stronger. I think we’re just going to be a very tough to play against a team, and we may not be flashy, but we’re gonna get the job done somehow, someway.”
The COVID shutdowns have hurt some lacrosse programs that used to compete in the Rocky Mountain Jr. Tier II divisions. In recent years, Lakeland area teams from Vermilion and Wainwright have folded, leaving the Heat and the Lloydminster Xtreme as the two remaining in the region.
The Heat will also see the likes of the Red Deer Renegades, and Sylvan Lake Yettis in their division, while teams from Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Edmonton, and St. Albert round out the north side of the league.
Over the course of the 14-game regular season, the Heat will battle each team in a home-in-home series.
With the hopes of finishing top-2 in the North Division, there is a possibility for the top two teams in the province to advance to Provincials and Westerns, which would see teams battle in British Columbia against squads from across Western Canada.
That road begins at the Cold Lake Energy Center on Friday night when Lakeland plays Lloyd at 8:30 pm. The Heat will stay there to host the Parkland Posse at 7:00pm on Saturday.
“I got a good number of young men out this year, and they’re really eager. It looks like a real hard working bunch. So you’re gonna see a real good effort level from the boys this year,” said Hodinsky.