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St. Albert Miners look to continue winning streak

The St. Albert Miners Lacrosse team are off to a strong start to the playoffs after finishing their regular season in first place
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Senior B St. Albert Miners' player Nathaniel Gillespie (18), centre, battles for ball possesion against Sherwood Park Outlaws opponents in Rocky Mountain Lacrossse League action at Go Auto Arena on Monday night. The Miners won 14-3. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

The senior B St. Albert Miners lacrosse team kicked off the playoff season with a win on Wednesday, taking down the Beaumont Outlaws 16-11 in the first game of a best-of-five series.

They are looking to take that momentum through the rest of the series.

Head coach Vay Diep said the Miners, who finished the regular season in first place, have a very strong team, and that the atmosphere they’ve created helps them to play their best.

“We’re really fortunate that since 2011 the core group has maintained the same, and that we have a good culture in the room,” he said. “With it being so physical, you want everybody fighting and backing each other up.”

The Miners completed their regular season on Monday with a 14-3 win against the Outlaws, finishing with 30 points – 10 points ahead of the second-place Calgary Mountaineers.   

After their strong showing on Wednesday, Diep hopes to keep that momentum going into the weekend, with the potential for the team to move on to the next round.

“There’s lots of excitement and focus,” said Diep. “Pressure is pressure, but we have good veteran leadership and the rookies know what it takes.”

It’s a busy weekend for the Miners, who had a game Friday night (score not available at press time) and will play another on Sunday in Beaumont.

The Miners won four of their five games against the Outlaws during the regular season, and Diep wants to keep the team doing what they’ve been doing to be successful. The key to that success is discipline, he said.

“We have a system in place, and they understand the system,” said Diep. “All we ask is to give us their best and work hard every shift. The end result should be a win.”

Although the Outlaws opened up the scoring early on in Wednesday’s game, the Miners came back for the win.

The Miners' Graedon Cornfield – a three-time Harris Toth Award winner for being the division's regular season point leader – was the top scorer for the team in the game with six goals. Matthew Kristiansen followed behind with three, and Richard Lachlan – also a Harris Toth Award recipient – scored twice along with Darren Kinnear and Carson Barton. Matt Hiebert also scored once.

If the Miners are able to defeat the Outlaws this weekend, they will be moving on to provincials, which begin the second week of August. The team that emerges victorious at the provincials will move on to the President’s Cup, which takes place Aug. 26 to Sept. 2 in Kahnawake, Que.

The Miners are the defending President’s Cup champions, having won the trophy for the past three years.

Sunday’s game takes place at Ken Nichol Recreation Centre at Arena 1 in Beaumont at 2 p.m. If Game 4 is necessary, the teams would play on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Ken Nichol. Game 5, if necessary, would go on Saturday, July 27 at 6 p.m. at Go Auto Arena.