When the Lloydminster Lacrosse Association faces off on a brand new season later this month, it will begin a new chapter to one of the oldest rivalries in the books.
“It’s been a longstanding rivalry with Vermilion. It’s a good, healthy competition,” said Lloydminster Brutes director at large Gerard Boyer.
The history between Vermilion and Lloydminster dates back decades, when now-parents squared off against one another as kids. Now their children have inherited a rivalry that is entrenched in the Wheatland Lacrosse Association.
This year’s matchup, however, will have a slightly different flavour. Since the Kitscoty Chaos are taking the year off from competition, many of its former players have flocked to the Vermilion Roar, as they’ve struggled to fill out its rosters, according to Boyer.
Still, the Highway 16 foes should be in for another long battle against one another.
“Vermilion’s very strong. For a smaller place, they have some good competition and good, talented kids and talented coaches,” he said. “If you can get a coach that can reach the kids and get their passion going, the team is successful. They’re very strong that way.”
Boyer expects the same from the Brutes this season, particularly at the peewee level, where an offseason coaching change could take Lloydminster to a championship level.
“One of our coaches, Graham Blore, he’s gone to provincials the last three years now, and he’s come back with the banner (each time). He’s moved up to peewee now so his team will be the one to watch.”
Boyer conceded that Lloydminster’s bantam and midget teams may need to wait a while to fulfill any title aspirations.
“We’ve got a lot of players but I’m not sure with the coaching how that’s going to go this year,” Boyer said of the bantams. As for the midgets, “Last year, we had a large midget contingency and this year we’ve got a small team, so I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out.”
In any case, Boyer said believes the Brutes are built to handle the Roar whenever the two associations go head-to-head. He says one team normally must go through the other before winning any championships, and he expects another seesaw this year.
“I think we’ll do all right. We always hold our own, it’s always been a good back-and-forth. One team will win one game, and one team will win the other game, and normally it comes down to the finals in the final weekend when we have our championship tournament. That’s when the best comes out of everybody.”
The Brutes will also host the Wheatland Lacrosse Association championships this year, where the winner punches a ticket to the Alberta provincials, meaning the Roar will need to literally come through Lloydminster to get there. Including novice and tyke age groups, the Brutes will field seven teams in 2015, down one from last season.