Joseph Burry (left) and Dylan Disdero (right) of the Grande Prairie Thrashers battle it out for the ball during a recent Thrashers practice at the Crosslink County Sportsplex. The midget club picked up its first win of the season, a 7-6 decision over the Leduc Crush on Sunday afternoon. The team is off this weekend.
The Grande Prairie Thrashers picked up their first win of the year in a 7-6 decision over the Leduc Crush in Greater Edmonton Lacrosse Council (GELC) on Sunday afternoon.With the vagaries of the GELC schedule being what it is, the Thrashers travel to the provincial capital every weekend to play three games in two days whereas the teams in Edmonton play through the week and, maybe, once on the weekend.The Thrashers lost 14-3 to the Edmonton Warriors on Saturday afternoon and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Parkland Posse on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon was not only the third game in just over 24 hours but their best one, according to Head Coach Ron Regnier.“The teams we’re playing are playing one game a weekend and we’re essentially playing a tournament,” Regnier said. “Quite often, it’s our most challenging game but in this case it wasn’t [on Sunday].”After two setbacks the previous day, second-year Thrasher Gabe Brown noted the overall team improvement from game to game.“Just the way our team is getting chemistry, the way we’re passing and setting up more plays,” Brown said of what he took away from the weekend in Edmonton. “Our defence is becoming very good and I like how we’re staying on the man-to-man defence. “It was a good game and the whole team played [well].”The birds went new school this year, switching from a zone defensive scheme into a man-on-man set-up.Regnier wanted to see if his players could handle the new style in actual game play. Just as important was the ability to adapt. Could they adapt game to game? Show they were learning on the fly.“They started to figure it out on Sunday,” Regnier said. “It takes a lot more movement and effort to follow someone around. Once they figured that out, [they] were able to limit the amount of shots [the opposition were getting].”The biggest challenge in the man style of defence is the opposition running obstruction, trying to set up their own offence.With multiple picks and screens happening in offensive schemes, communication is king because there’s a lot of simultaneous action on the floor.“That was, probably, our biggest challenge to begin with, was the communication and not being sure who they were on and who they should stay with or switch,” Regnier said. “They were talking more and helping each other out. It’s an awareness of where your man in and where the ball is. There’s a lot of happening out there and on Sunday we were coming into it better.”Regnier saw improvement and adaptability over the weekend and that should prove beneficial as the Thrashers learn more about the league and the opponents they will face in the next couple of months.“[Our team} was a lot tighter on offence and on defence,” Regnier said. “They were talking a lot more and moving the ball around. This isn’t a stand still game. You’ve got to pass, you’ve got to cut and you’ve got to run. There was a lot of ball movement and the players were moving themselves.”Old habits die hardThe club opened the Greater Edmonton Lacrosse Council season on Saturday afternoon in a 14-3 loss to the Edmonton Warriors at Bill Hunter Arena in Edmonton.The score was tied 1-1 after the first period but the club fell apart after that as Regnier explains.“[For a lot of our players], it’s their first year playing up [a level] at midget and when they got checked a couple of times and there were some easy goals go in, the nerves started to takeover,” Regnier said.“When it got into the second quarter it was hard. They were reverting back to bantam and peewee play. They were falling off the systems we set in place for midget.”Big day for BrownA tip of the netted stick goes out to Grande Prairie Thrasher Gabe Brown.The 15-year old bagged four goals and added two assists as the Thrashers picked up their first win of the season, a 7-6 decision over the Leduc Crush in Greater Edmonton Lacrosse Council action in Edmonton on Sunday.“[Brown has] got great hands and he’s very fast,” Thrashers Head Coach Ron Regnier said. “If he gets a step on you, he’s gone. He was able to capitalize on his physical and hand speed. He was able to get himself into some great scoring positions.”For his part, Brown noted his four dents on the goal mesh were nothing overly special, just the usual lacrosse stuff in terms of “passing and cutting most of the time.”Perhaps he’s being a bit modest but part of goal scoring in lacrosse—as in any other goal-oriented sport-—is strictly instinctual. Sometimes it’s called a ‘nose for the net.’“If you have anticipation it’s easier to see everything once you know the sport,” Brown said. “It’s easier to see where you’re supposed to set up. Some of the new players don’t [have the instinct] yet and that’s OK because they’re learning. I’ve only played for three years and I’m trying the best I can to learn.”Regnier noted the Grade 10 student at St. Joseph Catholic High School has the physical speed to play the game but—more importantly—he’s able to think at speed as well.“[Brown] uses his speed to get himself in the right spots,” Regnier said. “He knows where the ball is going to be and he’s looking at where it’s open on the goalie and he’s great with his fakes. The ball is off his stick before the goalie usually knows about it.”Brown could be considered a late comer to the game because he didn’t choose lacrosse until he was 12-years old but he seems to be in the right spot and, no doubt, Regnier and his teammates are glad he’s here now.“I think [lacrosse is] an amazing sport,” Brown said. “I love it. I like running, passing the ball and shooting as hard as I can. I also like the hitting and just being able to be aggressive all the time.”