As he looked back on the 2018 season, Prince Albert Rivers Dragons coach Paul Roy couldn’t help but marvel at the growth the squad had from start to finish.
“When we got underway this year we had a younger team with a good mix of high quality players and newcomers,” Roy said. “Our main goal as we took the field was to blend that wide gap we had of skill levels and overall experience.
“By the end of the season, we had quite a good team and the entire coaching staff was pleased with just how much progress the boys made. We ended up with a silver medal at the Rowlands Cup, which exceeded the expectations that we had at the start of the year.”
The team officially wrapped up the campaign Tuesday night with their annual awards banquet.
Leading the way were Jonty Kruger and Byran Ferrell, who received the most valuable player and rookie of the year awards respectively.
“Jonty’s been with us for four years now and he’s really become part of the fabric of our program,” Roy said. “Even though this was Byran’s first season, he’s become a valuable part of our team as well.
“Both guys were born in South Africa and the game of rugby is ingrained into their culture like hockey is here in Canada. They’ve both been playing since they were six or seven years old and they already have that intensity that you need out on the field. They also both spend hours online learning the sport from watching games back home in South Africa, and they take the things they learn from those videos to what they do on the pitch.”
The other award recipients, who were determined by votes from the Dragons coaching staff, were Dante Doell (most improved back), Aidan Quinton (best forward), Zach Tretiak (best back) and Jacob Beauchesne (most improved forward)
Thirteen members of the Dragons program will be returning to the pitch this weekend in Saskatoon, as they’ll be taking part in a training camp to make the Northern Saskatchewan Wolverines teams.
Competing in the Under-18 camp are Ferrell, Kruger, Tretiak and Elijah McPherson, while Beauchesne, Quinton, Austin Belair, Thayne Clarke, Connor Elphinstone, Matthew Meacham, Brandon Sayese will be vying for spots on the Under-16 squad.
Riley Clarke and Reese Milligan will represent the club in the Under-14 tryouts
“Those regional teams will then go to Regina to compete at the Manitoba/Saskatchewan regional tournament in Regina from July 6-9,” Roy said.
“That will mark the end of the year for the Under-14 players, but the Under-16 and Under-18 players will have a chance to make the Saskatchewan provincial team and go to the nationals later this summer.”
The Under-18 nationals will be held in Winnipeg, Man. from Aug. 10-12, while the Under-16 nationals will take place in Kelowna, B.C. from July 27-29.