Coach Tyson Fetch was quick to point out that the Prince Albert Predators haven’t won anything yet.
However, thanks to an 11-7 triumph over the Standing Buffalo Fighting Sioux at the Kinsmen Arena on Saturday evening, the defending Prairie Gold Lacrosse League junior division champions are on the verge of a second straight title if they can come away with a win on Sunday afternoon.
“I was little surprised that the final scored ended up being what it was,” Fetch said. “It was a pretty even game throughout the first two periods, but I think our conditioning played a big difference with how we were able to keep the lead.”
Having played to a 6-6 tie at home with the Standing Buffalo in May and also earning a 13-10 victory in their last meeting at the Fort Qu’Appelle Rec Centre on June 2, the Predators were able to withstand an early offensive outburst by the visitors before pulling away for good with three goals in the final game.
“All week long we told the guys that the only difference in our two regular season games against them was the fact that we have given up early leads to Standing Buffalo,” Fetch said.
“We need our guys to keep pushing when they had the lead and everyone did that. Everyone in that room believes in each other.”
Trey Duquette and Dillan Cochrane paced the Predators offensively with five-point nights, as Duquette scored four times and had an assist while Cochrane found the back of the net once and dished out four helpers.
Tanner Vancoughnett had a hat-trick and an assist in the triumph, which saw Jack Kowblick score a goal and set up three others.
Steven Soyko and Carson Remy also found the back of the net for the hosts, who received a 28-save performance from Duncan Fetch.
The Fighting Sioux, who were coming off a 12-5 road win over the Swift Current Wolverines in Tuesday’ semifinal, had a balanced offensive attack as Sincere Toto led the way with a goal and two assists.
Brandon Yuzicappi, Sandis Laswisse and Brody Yuzicappi-Brown had a goal and an assist each in the loss, while Cain Thomson, Jordan Levesque and Logan Goodwill also scored.
“They were able to take advantage of a couple of our mistakes, but I thought we traded chances with them for the most of the night,” Fighting Sioux coach Don Larson said.
“We’ll have a little more depth for Sunday as we had a couple of guys away for graduation events this evening, but we only have to make a few minor adjustments to get ready for Game 2.”
The only question mark that the Fighting Sioux have for Sunday’s contest, which gets underway at 1 p.m., is with goaltender Teddy Yuzicappi as he was favouring his left leg throughout the third period Saturday.
“He was dealing with some leg cramps and back spasms,” Larson said. “We’re confident that he’ll be able to play but we’ll reassess him again before the game.”
Meanwhile, there will only be a few tweaks for the Predators as they look to wrap up the series and avoid a 10-minute mini-game that would take place immediately following Game 2.
“We’ll add a couple new looks to the power play that we’ve been practicing all year, but we don’t have to change much,” Fetch said. “We’ll be ready to go.”