Little Team, Big Dreams, and Bigger Success

Wallaceburg Griffins Novice 1

Wallaceburg Griffins Novice 1 - Photo by Ian Kennedy

It’s been a dream season thus far for the Wallaceburg Griffins Novice 1 team, and whether they find success at the Provincial tournament in early August or not, this will go down as one of the most successful team’s and seasons in Wallaceburg Minor Lacrosse history.

Sitting at 12-0-1 in their Zone 7 league, the Griffins have also won a silver at the Niagara Thunderhawks tournament, and a bronze last weekend in Owen Sound. That however, isn’t the miraculous part of their season. This past week, the Wallaceburg Novice 1 team was designated an ‘A’ team, something no Wallaceburg lacrosse team has accomplished in over 20 years since the 1989 midgets achieved the same level.

To be an ‘A’ rated team, traditionally you must be considered one of the top 8 teams in Ontario, however this year the top 12 teams provincially will be given an ‘A’ rating at the Novice level. Now that they’ve achieved this monumental step for Wallaceburg Lacrosse, the team isn’t sitting back. Rather, Head Coach Jamie Knight says his team plans to not just attend provincials, but to compete and win,

“I think we are really capable of going and making an impact on the tournament,” said Knight, “Not just going, but going and competing in every game, and beating some teams. When I look at the Novice grouping, I see a lot of parity and it’s going to be who wins those close games.”

Starting with their winter lacrosse training sessions, which featured a helping hand from several junior and former professional lacrosse players, the young team has been building toward this upgrade in status, and toward a run at a provincial title from long before the first game of the season,

“Wallaceburg is a small town that doesn’t have a lot of resources like other centres, but our team utilized all of our resources including our winter lacrosse sessions. We worked on every detail all winter from draws, to shooting, and it’s paying off.”

Although the Novice 1 team has been led by several top scorers through their first 13 games this season including Tanner Cole (33 goals, 24 assists, 57 points), Hunter Santsche (18 goals, 29 assists, 47 points), Riley Roe (25 goals, 11 assits, 36 points), and Cole MacKinnon (16 goals, 17 assists, 33 points), among others, Coach Knight says it’s his team’s depth that has truly led to their success,

“We roll two lines, everybody plays, and you can’t hide, everyone is accountable. They are kids, but they’re running at a pretty high level. Depth is our strong point and it’s all about the team with us.”

Despite their successes, this little team has big dreams, and is hoping for bigger success at the ‘A’ provincial championships. Knight, who coached players such as Seth Griffith, Zach Herreweyers, and Jordan Durston to a provincial ‘B’ title, knows his young team still has much to learn before they are ready to beat the best in Ontario this August,

“We need to work on our defence still. The ‘A’ teams play sound defence, and make you earn your goals. We need to really tighten up our defence, and just go play. We’ll be the underdogs, and we’re expected to finish 12th. A lot of teams won’t give us any respect, but we’re going to tell our kids to just go and play, and I know we’re going to suprise a lot of teams.”

The Novice 1 team will be honoured for their achievement of reaching ‘A’ status Saturday night at the Wallaceburg Red Devils opening playoff game against the Six Nations Rebels. Game time is 8pm at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena.

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