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Success proves to be costly for Pioneers

Expensive trip to national championships secured after other WCSLA finalist says no before series even starts

Being successful in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association can come with a hefty price tag that some teams even refuse to pay.

The WCSLA final series took a dramatic twist before it even started when the Tri-City Bandits declared they would not be going back east to represent B.C. at the President's Cup Senior "B" National Championships. The decision means the Ladner Pioneers have an opportunity to become Canadian champions even if they are swept by the Bandits. Tri-City did win the series opener 6-3 on Sunday night in Ladner.

The Bandits' decision stems for the hefty cost to attend the President's Cup which is being hosted this year by the Akwesasne Mohawks Nation, located on Quebec/Ontario border. The B.C. represenatives receive $4,000 from the WCSLA to attend the nationals but are on the hook for the rest.

"It's going to cost around $2,000 for each player to go," said longtime Pioneer executive John Burr, whose family founded the franchise back in the 1980s. "It could basically set you back to where you are not even playing the following year.

"Teams can not afford to take out a loan so basically you have to fundraise as much as possible in a short period of time. Fortunately, a sponsor is helping us out with the airfares and we are also selling some raffle tickets. We're hoping the players are going to have to pay only $500 (out of their own pocket) plus expenses."

The $40,000 trip is signifcantly more than the team's entire 2011 operating budget ($25,000) and making the nationals wasn't even on the radar screen back in April for what was expected to be a rebuilding season.

"We're probably running as lean as we ever have but it's so tough running a sports team these days," added Burr. "It's a big undertaking going to nationals. Not only are you worrying about the cost but arraning the hotel, meals and van rentals as well.

"We're hoping this will be a good experience (for our young) players to go back east, see what this tournament is all about and be better off for it in the long run."

Boxla Bits .... Goals proved to be hard to come by for Pioneers in the series opener.

The Bandits produced four power play goals and rode the 47-save performance of Chad Miller to victory.

What has the Pioneer coaching staff concerned is the team not even matching the level of play it took to roll off 12 consecutive wins during the regular season.

"We went through the year fairly comfortably and the players need to learn the playoffs are a completely different level of lacrosse," said Pioneer assistant coach Sam Thauli.

"There are a few guys that haven't dug down deep enough to get up to the pace where the other guys are and they have been called out on it by the players themselves," added head coach Bob Taylor. "They have to turn it around."

Cam Taylor's third period goal pulled the hosts with two but they would get no closer. Andrew Gee and Quinn Waddington had the other Ladner tallies. Kevin Hill stopped 35 shots in a losing cause.

Ladner native Jordan Flaman, who played his junior lacrosse in Port Coquitlam, was among the Bandit goalscorers.

Game two was played last night at Burnaby Lake Arena and the teams return to Ladner for game three on Thursday. Should the series need a game seven, the Pioneers will have to look elsewhere for an arena with ice scheduled to go into the Ladner Leisure Centre next week.