Xtreme expect to fill top spot

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April 21, 2016 6:00 AM

The Lloydminster Xtreme took on the Prince Albert Predators in an exhibition game last Saturday as a warm up for the season that begins this weekend with two games in Edmonton.

Graham Murray expects two victories from the Lloydminster Xtreme this weekend — the junior B lacrosse team now just needs to go out and actually win them.
The head coach also expects to be in the playoffs at the end of the regular season and has set his expectations high for the year, as former league powerhouse Fort Saskatchewan moved up to junior A lacrosse, leaving the top spot in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) North East Conference open for the taking, a spot Murray wants to be in.
“I want to be that No. 1 team,” said Murray. “This year we are definitely going to be in that area. It’s going to be between us, Cold Lake and Sherwood Park.”
Lloydminster got a chance to take the rust out their game before the season started, playing an extended exhibition game against the Prince Alberta Predators on Saturday morning, giving the Xtreme a chance to work on their transition and plays before heading to Edmonton on Saturday for their season opener against the Edmonton Warriors and a Sunday meeting with the Edmonton Wizards.
“I feel confident with our team,” said Murray. “We’ll be in the top portion of the standings and I think we are really coming into it.”
The two weekend road games are the first of five road the Xtreme have to start the season, as they won’t play a home game until May 14. With the Royal Bank Cup in town that weekend, the Xtreme will play out of the Russ Robertson Arena for the month of May, with hopes of returning to the Civic Centre in June and for the playoffs.
It creates a schedule that sees the Xtreme play seven of their last nine games at home, giving them an opportunity to be well rested should they have another slow start to the season and need to make up some victories.
It’s also why Murray got the exhibition game in against the Predators so that Lloydminster wasn’t playing their first games together when points were on the line.
“The last couple of seasons we have got off to slow starts and that is largely important because those were our first games of the season,” said Murray. “With the exhibition game we played, I feel we shook off a lot of that rust which we carried into the season last year. This year we should be sharp and hopefully get right into the season here and get some wins piled up.
“If it does come to that we do need some victories down the line, at least we do have that home court advantage.
“Hopefully that won’t be necessary and we just keep on rolling.”
Entering his third year of coaching, Murray missed the playoffs in his first year and got the Xtreme to the second round last year. He has set the expectations at a definite playoff berth for this season, and says that this year’s Xtreme, that is heavily built on veterans, should be making a run for a league title.
But it will all come down to the effort he gets every night, and if the team wants it themselves.
“I have no doubt we will start the season 2-0 this weekend, but I guess that is up to the boys effort and their preparedness,” said Murray. “I definitely expect to be pushing for a championship.”

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