The Lloydminster Xtreme’s hope of playing another home game this season, the championship game in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse (RMLL) junior B division, came to an end over the weekend after a 21-7 loss to the Fort Saskatchewan Rebels in Game 1, and a 14-9 loss in Game 2 eliminated them from the playoffs.
After upsetting the Westlock Rock in Round 1, the Xtreme had the difficult task of knocking off the defending champions in Round 2, and unfortunately, were overwhelmed in Game 1 by a strong Rebels offence. Lloydminster held two leads in Game 2, but Fort Saskatchewan showed why they are moving on to Tier 1 lacrosse next season, coming back late and securing the 2-0 series victory over the Xtreme.
“They had too many guys on their squad staying fresh and we got run down,” said Xtreme head coach Graham Murray. “You can see they are definitely the best team in the league and you can see why they are moving on to Tier 1 next year because they definitely got the talent there.”
Despite their second round elimination, the season overall was a step in the right direction for the team, who has now been coached by Murray for the past two seasons. Last year they just missed out on a playoff birth, while this season they improved to 9-9 in the regular season and got in the sixth and final spot in the playoffs.
See “Xtreme,” Page 27
Along with upsetting Westlock, a team that has had past successful in the playoffs, Murray can see the progress the team has made in two years, most notably on defence.
“It shows the guys can play at that level,” said Murray. “It is just a matter of keeping that commitment throughout the year. It’s been a step up in defence. Our defence has come a very long way since last year. It was nothing compared to what it was at the end of the year here. And I hope that carries over to next year and the guys won’t forget it over the winter and we get right back at into it and we are right at the top of our defensive game right from the start.”
Braeden Luedtke is the only player graduating from the Xtreme, but it will be a big loss on offence, as well as leadership, as the captain had 28 goals and 40 points during the regular season. But with five new midgets expected to come up to the junior B roster and Murray settling into Lloydminster more since moving here from Ontario last year, getting more players out to play lacrosse and increasing the teams numbers should see an improvement heading into the 2016 season.
So the low turnover means Murray can start where he left off from this year, and hope the quicker start to the season will improve the Xtreme’s standing by playoff time.
“We are definitely building towards something that is going to be pretty good for this community lacrosse wise,” said Murray. “We should be a competitive team for the next three to four years with just what we have right now. There is no reason we shouldn’t be competitive. Even with the rookies we had this year they were great and we got a good crop of rookies coming next year, so we really shouldn’t miss a beat.
“There is no way we are going downhill anytime soon.”