U21 Predators hopeful for strong season

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Owen Peifer of the Prince Albert Predators carries the ball during training camp at the Kinsmen Arena

The ice has officially been drained in the Kinsmen Arena meaning lacrosse season is right around the corner.

The Prince Albert U21 Predators hosted their training camp over the weekend at the Kinsmen Arena to prepare for the upcoming Prairie Gold Lacrosse League season.

It will be a new look on the Predator coaching staff as Lucas Wells takes over the head coaching job in place of Tyson Fetch.

Wells says he is looking forward to coaching a lot of players he is familiar with on this year’s Predator roster.

“I’m looking forward to this being around the guys again. I’ve coached these guys probably for four or five years. I think we have a very talented team. I think for us we need to be very fast and very physical. I hope we can put the ball in the net. That’s going to be a work in progress right now. Looking at training camp, we’re kind of missing a bunch of guys for team Sask tryouts , which is fine. We’ll finish up on Tuesday and those guys will be back. So, we’ll have a clearer picture of what our team’s going to look like.”

At the start of training camp, the Predators were missing several players currently away with Team Saskatchewan tryouts. Wells says it is providing him a solid look at players he wasn’t as familiar with heading into the season.

“It provides them with a lot of opportunity. There’s been a couple of guys we’ve already looked at and they’re surprising us with their with their speed, their athleticism and how aggressive they’re being. I know the players away at Team Sask. I know what they’re like. A couple of the new guys, I haven’t seen before and they’re aggressive and they’re working hard and that’s all we can ask for right now.”

Last season, the Predators finished in second place in the PGLL standings posting a record of 7-2-1 in 10 games, with a +52 goal differential.

Wells says the Prince Albert has high expectations for the upcoming season.

“We only lost two guys last year. One was an offensive player and one was a goalie, and we made it to the championship. To be honest with you, I expect us every year, whether it’s this group or any other group, if you go into the season without championship aspirations, it’s a failure, so that’s our end goal this year is to come home with the championship.”

One player returning to the Predators this season is Hayden Ulriksen. Last season, Ulriksen recorded 20 goals and 15 assists while appearing in 10 games for Prince Albert.

He says the team is confident because of the chemistry they possess.

“We were all pretty close last year and that was a first-year team for the most part. We only had a couple of returning guys and all of us have played from tyke to novice to Peewee all throughout our lacrosse careers together. So, the chemistry is really high.”

In the early portion of training camp, Ulriksen says the team is just trying to get back to basics.

“Right now, we’re just shaking the rust off. We’re getting our passes dialed in and getting our shots on net here. We’re really just looking at getting our basic skills back because most of us haven’t played in about a year. And so, we’re basically we’re just here to get our cardio up and get our basic skills back.”

The Predators open their PGLL schedule on April 29 when they travel to Regina.