The defending provincial Junior ‘B’ lacrosse champions took to the Kinex Arena on Saturday evening to kick off their season.
The Red Deer Rampage, 2014 provincial champions in their tier, squared off against the Saskatoon Swat for the inaugural game of 2015, which ended in an overtime 5-5 tie. The Rampage then took their first season win on Sunday night with a match against the St. Albert Crude ending 7-5 on their home field.
Head Coach and Manager of the Rampage Dustin Reykdal said following the weekend’s games that he was thrilled to see the growth in the young team over the course of the first two games.
Having graduated half of the team from the program last year due to age, Reykdal explained this year would be a building process for the team.
“We have a lot of young players but they have so much potential,” he said. “Just watching the progress this team has made after having only playing those two games together – I know it’s going to be incredible to see how much more experience they are going to get while playing games throughout the season.
“I’m hoping to see those players develop to a heightened playing level over the season.”
Reykdal said he felt the team has some refinement to achieve over the course of the year but feels they will be strong contenders for the 2015 Founders Cup – the Junior ‘B’ National Championships being held this year in Calgary.
He added he felt the team’s offense could have been better in their first game, but really saw it pull together in the second leading them to their first win. Holding strong to last year’s provincial gold medal winning tactics Reykdal explained the team’s defense is continually strong which he believes is largely responsible for their success.
“You could tell the team was a lot more comfortable and confident in their playing in that second game – after being together the night before they had gotten to know each other’s habits a bit more.”
Reykdal, a graduate of the Red Deer Lacrosse program himself who later went on to play Junior ‘A’ lacrosse with the Calgary Raiders, has been playing lacrosse for over 15 years. In that time he has watched the sport develop to the level it is today in Red Deer.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in Red Deer, especially in how we are able to compete with the bigger centres like Edmonton and Calgary. When I was younger most of the time we wouldn’t have enough people to pull from to be able to compete and we would often get out-skilled by other teams from bigger cities,” he said.
“But lately it seems that Red Deer has grown the game to a level that we are seeing a lot of really great athletes and highly-skilled lacrosse players coming out of the Red Deer lacrosse programs.”
He added he hopes to see this increase of skill lead Red Deer’s lacrosse program advance even further. During his time spent involved with lacrosse in the City he has witnessed more Red Deer players being called up to Junior ‘A’ teams. He added these are, “Good steps in being able to develop our own Junior ‘A’ program here as well.”
The Rampage will take on the Edmonton Warriors this Sunday at the Kinex Arena in Red Deer at 5 p.m.