Thompsonites will have the opportunity to see junior B lacrosse this spring.
On April 27−28, the Manitoba Blizzard junior B lacrosse team will be in the Hub of the North to play two regular season games against the Saskatchewan SWAT at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
Thompson lacrosse coach Brad Ritchie made this announcement during the Feb. 4 city council meeting and said that he put this series together to give Northern Manitoba residents some exposure to the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League.
“What we want to accomplish with this weekend is we want to demonstrate lacrosse at its highest level for a lot of people: athletes who currently play lacrosse in Thompson, athletes who haven’t been introduced to the sport … to parents as well as other people in the community,” he said.
Ritchie went on to talk about Thompson’s connection to the Blizzard, and how a handful of local athletes have helped the Winnipeg-based team clinch a pair of league championships over the past couple of years. The team’s roster last season included Ritchie’s two sons Evan and Taylor, as well as other homegrown talent like William Lutz, David Saunders and Isaac Babulic.
“So it’s a very strong program in a very strong league that has been the next level for Thompsonites who wish to continue playing lacrosse,” said Ritchie. “Last year the Manitoba Blizzard were even an overtime loss away from advancing to the gold medal championship in the national championships for junior lacrosse in Ontario.”
The coach also told council that he was able to convince both teams to compete in this weekend series partially because of the city’s growing reputation as a premiere host city, especially after the Manitoba Winter Games last March.
“Every time someone comes to Thompson for the first time they always have a great experience,” he said. “I have no doubt that this will be the same with this event, and it will be a lot of fun.”
After Ritchie wrapped up his presentation, all eight members of council threw their full support behind his initiative, referencing the city’s long tradition of developing lacrosse athletes.
“I think people in Thompson don’t really know the history of lacrosse in Thompson,” said deputy mayor Kathy Valentino. “I don’t know the numbers now, but it wasn’t too long ago they had a bigger membership than Thompson minor hockey, with the youth.”
Valentino also encouraged Ritchie to collaborate more closely with the city’s recreation and community services committee, who are holding their next meeting at noon Feb. 19 in the Mary Fenske Boardroom at the Thompson Regional Community Centre.
To learn more about opportunities to play lacrosse locally, please visit the Thompson Lacrosse Association’s Facebook page.