The Ladner Pioneers launched the lacrosse season by tasting success around the globe.
While the senior B club opened its West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association schedule with a hard-fought 5-3 home floor win over the Nanaimo Timbermen, its traveling team was busy making history in the Czech Republic.
The Pioneers captured the 22nd annual Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament for the very first time, defeating the Oshawa Green Gaels 9-6 in Saturday’s championship game.
It was the club’s third straight appearance in the tournament, with the previous visits producing fifth place finishes in the 22 team event.
This year’s roster featured eight regulars, including Chris Fox who organized the trip. The team also included some WLA talent, led by former Delta Junior A Islanders standouts Mike Mallory and Jason Jones.
The road to the all-Canadian final featured plenty of international competition as the Pioneers earned a quarter-final berth with wins over Slovakia’s Bats Bratislava (8-3), Scotland’s Glasgow Clydesiders (11-1) and Ireland’s Riggers (7-1).
Two goals each from Nathan Clare and Jones led the locals to a 7-1 victory over Tel Aviv. Mallory then notched a hat trick, while Ryan Keith and Travis St. Germain each scored twice in a 10-4 semi-final triumph against the Megamen from the U.S.
The gold medal game featured more terrific defensive work and goaltending from Nathan Wilson. The Pioneers took a 7-6 lead into the third period and held the Green Gaels off the scoresheet while Jones and St. Germain added insurance goals.
Wilson was named the tournament’s top goaltender and Scott Rouse of the WLA’s Burnaby Lakers was chosen top defensive player.
The traveling team also featured: Ray Calderwood, Chris Fox, Andrew Schwab, Pierce Watson, Adam Clarke, Scott Rouse, Joe Vander Wilp, Tyler Calderwood, Jamie Bellamy and Matt Calderwood.
Back at home, the Pioneers overcame a short bench for a key victory in Nanaimo’s only visit to Ladner this season.
Matt Morehouse made an impressive return to the Pioneers’ net, making 29 saves, including 13 in the final period when he blanked the Timbermen.
Mike Berekoff scored twice, while Quinn Waddington chipped in with a goal and three assists. Kevin Wilson and Eamon Butler had the others.
The Pioneers are expected to be back at full strength Thursday when the Valley Rebels visit Ladner at 8 p.m.