Glenn Jensen knows a thing or two about host teams winning B.C. Bantam Lacrosse Championships at Minoru Arenas.
Jensen was behind the bench when Richmond earned provincial honours on their home floor several years ago with a line-up that included his son Nick. Now the longtime Richmond Lacrosse president is back behind the bench again for a Roadrunner team that is competing against B.C.’s top teams in the elite A1 Tier.
Richmond begins a demanding round-robin schedule at noon Thursday against Semiahmoo before taking on Juan de Fuca later that evening (7:30 p.m.). In total, it will five games over three days to determine which four of the six teams will be playing for medals on Sunday afternoon.
The A1 tournament is part of four Bantam provincial titles that will be on the line this week. Richmond is also welcoming teams from across the province at the A2, B and C levels.
Typically, Roadrunners rep teams have been playing at A2 but this talented group has more than held its own against perennial Lower Mainland heavyweights all season.
A solid run in tiering play put Richmond in A1 and the success continued with an 11-5-0 regular season record — just a single point behind third place Semiahmoo. Along the way, the Roadrunners posted wins against Ridge Meadows (14-2-0), Coquitlam (13-2-1) and Semiahmoo. They will see all three rivals again this week, along with a pair of Vancouver Island teams.
“The kids know we can beat Coquitlam, we can beat Ridge and we can beat everybody. They just need to stay focus and play at that level we need to or we will be in trouble,” said Jensen. “We have all that we need to be successful.”
That starts in net with goaltender Keegan Okina who played for Team B.C. at nationals last year. The attack is led by Henry Smith and Thomas Tien, who are especially dangerous in transition. Tien is a standout athlete who helped Seafair Minor Hockey win the Western Canadian Bantam Championship this past season.
Okina’s stellar play is evident in the box scores where the Roadrunners routinely hold their opponents to under five goals. Wins over Ridge Meadows and Semiahmoo were both by 4-3 scores.
“If Keegan is on top of his game and everybody on the outside it’s going to be key for us,” added Jensen. “Then we need to score goals. We are a really good fast break team and Keegan can throw the ball too.”
Jensen added playing at Minoru will be provide an edge, especially with the comforts of using the Junior Roadrunners’ dressing room for the entire tournament.
“One hundred percent it’s a big advantage for us,” he said. “We got our own changing room where their jerseys will be hung up and the music going.”
The Bantam A1 provincial gold medal game is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday in the stadium rink. The bronze game starts at 2:30 p.m. next door in the silver rink.