Predators preparing for title defence

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Dillan Cochrane works his way around the defence during a drill at the Prince Albert Predators practice on Tuesday night at the Kinsmen Arena.

The Prince Albert Predators find themselves in a new situation heading into the 2019 Prairie Gold Lacrosse League season.

After winning their first junior division title in team history last June, the Predators enter this year as the club that everyone else will be looking to knock off each time they take to the court.

“We’ve already talked to the boys about that,” Predators head coach Tyson Fetch said. “I don’t mind having that extra added pressure on the boys. It just means that we have to work even harder.

“Obviously it’s a different team than last season’s, but we have a lot of skill and it’s going to be good to have teams chasing us right away.”

Although six players from last year’s championship winning side have moved on from the program, the Predators are still in good shape as they get ready for their home opener against the Saskatoon SWAT at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Kinsmen Arena.

“We still have a dozen runners back from last year along with a number of our affiliated players who are moving up to full-time roles,” Fetch said. “The experience that those guys had from our run to the title is invaluable.”

“It’s a pretty balanced group right now, but I would say our defensive core is a major strength for us,” Predators assistant coach Mike Vancoughnett added. “There’s a feeling out process that will be taking place over the first couple of games on offence, especially on the left side as we had to fill in some holes there, but I think everyone should settle in right away.”

Vancoughnett is also excited about the young talent that’s in the Predators system, especially after a pair of pre-season games in Swift Current earlier this month.

“We brought some of our midget guys and our new affiliated players down there, and their skill level is really impressive,” Vancoughnett said. “We should have some really strong players on our team during the next few years.”