After a championship season in 2023, the Prince Albert Predators celebrated the start to 2024 by receiving a trio of awards at the Sask Lacrosse Awards Banquet in Saskatoon last weekend.
The Prince Albert Predators were awarded as the Sask Lacrosse Team of the Year after capturing the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League title with a dramatic 12-11 overtime win over the Swift Current Wolverines last July.
Predators head coach Lucas Wells says the award is more indicative of the success of lacrosse in the city of Prince Albert, rather than the Predators themselves.
“I think it’s a big thing, not only for the Predators lacrosse team, but I think also for PA lacrosse to be recognized on a provincial level. I think it’s important that people in and around PA and around the lacrosse community understand not only we’re building as a junior program, but what we’re building as an association. So, it’s nice to get the recognition for that.”
During the PGLL regular season, the Predators finished with a 12-1-1 record, sitting atop the league standings two points clear of Swift Current. Prince Albert outscored opponents 189-84 in the PGLL regular season.
“I think one of the big things I’d always preached with the guys was that we may make you better lacrosse players, but our end goal is to make you better men. I think we’ve achieved that with the graduating players, and we’re working towards that with the upcoming graduating guys, simply with them giving back to the community, whether it’s reffing or coaching. They understand the role they have in the community, especially in the lacrosse community, and just giving back was one of the biggest things. A championship is nice, but at the end of the day, as a coach and essentially as a mentor to these guys, it’s making them better men as well as better lacrosse players.”
Predators goaltender Mason Hawkes came home with a pair of awards as he was named the PGLL Defensive Player of the Year and took home Sask Major Male Athlete of the Year honours.
“It’s pretty good and it means a lot.” Hawkes said. “The defensive one also shows that not really one guy can be a whole defense and it shows our team had a good defense as well.
Wells says Hawkes is the top player in his position in the province.
“I don’t think there’s another goalie in the province that is as good as him. We may have a great defense in front of him, but he allows us to take those chances and do the things that make us a good team. Being able to rely on him so heavily, it was very much well deserved.”
When asked about Hawkes individually as a goaltender, Wells says Hawkes brings all the attributes you would want in a goaltender.
“I think there’s a multitude of things. I think that his positioning is so sound. If you watch him play, he doesn’t necessarily really move unless he’s completely out of position and that is very far and few between. He understands the game really well. He knows when to try and stretch the floor, knows when to slow it down. He stays very calm. He’s a very calming presence. I think that those are key attributes that make him arguably one of the best goaltenders in the province.”
Brayden Rieger led the PGLL in scoring with 81 points in only 14 games and he was also rewarded with some hardware as he took home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in his first full campaign in the PGLL.
Wells says Rieger possesses incredible lacrosse IQ.
“This was his first full season with us coming to practice every day and learning and he does things. We have a lot of very talented players, but he does things with a stick and recognizes things that nobody else on our team does, which makes him a very special talent.” The 2024 PGLL schedule has yet to be announced.