Venom eye return to nationals
This year’s edition of the junior B Kamloops Venom has Andre-the-Giant-sized shoes to fill.
The only way the Venom can top last season is by winning a gold, silver or bronze medal at the junior B national championship in August, when Saskatoon hosts the tournament that decides the winner of the Founders Cup.
Getting back to the big dance, where the Venom jigged to a fourth-place finish last season, will be especially tough considering the squad lost seven of its core players — Quinn Smith, who is playing junior A lacrosse on Vancouver Island, Tyler Reid, Cole Eustache, Steven Borden, Kyle McBratney, Ryland DeRose and Liam Hagerty.
But, said assistant coach Rob Smith, a trip to Saskatoon in the summer is not out of the question.
“There’s no question about it, we definitely want to finish as high as possible and get to the [Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League] final,” Smith said.
“With us hosting provincials here, we want another crack at repeating as provincial champions.”
The Venom were runners-up for Kamloops’ team of the year in 2010, an award bestowed on Sa-Hali secondary’s AA senior boys’ soccer team at the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame Banquet earlier this month.
Smith said the Venom’s toughest opponent this season will likely be the Kelowna Raiders, which amalgamated with Rutland after last season.
Rounding out the Venom’s TOJLL competition are Armstrong, South Okanagan, Vernon and the Kamloops Rattlers.
Rookie draft picks Blaine Boomer, Braden James, Gage Deacon, Jerome Thorne and Marc Dumont will be relied on to pick up the slack left by the departed Venom.
Between the pipes for the Venom will be Andrew Copeland, who was the TOJLL’s top goalie last season.
He will be backed up by Cody Mior, who is returning to the game after a one-year hiatus.
Doug Clark is the Venom’s head coach.
The Venom’s first home game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 1 at Memorial Arena, when Armstrong is in town.