Some onlookers might say that the Nanaimo Acme Timbermen took the easy route to the Presidents Cup, but that isn’t really accurate. There’s no easy route to nationals.
It’s been a long decade since the T-men made their last appearance at the tourney, in 2003.
The club had some tough seasons there for awhile, barely staying afloat in the years after Nanaimo got a senior A team in 2005.
But the senior B guys soldiered on, nudged their way up the standings, and solidified themselves as a perennial contender in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association. It may have taken a couple of teams defaulting their berths this summer, but Nanaimo found a way back to the Presidents Cup.
“Opportunities to go to a championship don’t come along very often,” said Kyle Couling, team captain.
The guys know that well. Two players, Shawn Swanson and Aaron Vanderhorst, were part of that 2003 team.
“At that time, I thought I’d be going back there a lot more. I didn’t think it would be another 10 years…” Vanderhorst said. “I’m happy to be back there at all.”
It’s going to be an interesting seven days in Montreal this week. The Acme Painting Timbermen will be up against six other teams, most of them league champions bursting with all-star talent.
“We’re looking at this as a huge chance to go in as spoilers and underdogs because that’s how we got in,” Couling said. “I think that gives us an edge because people may underestimate us.”
The Timbermen feel they’re a better team than what they showed in the WCSLA playoffs when they got swept in the semifinals.
“We may not have some of the top-end star calibre that some of the other teams do, but we feel top to bottom we’re a pretty deep team, we’re a pretty athletic group,” Vanderhorst said.
He suggested that the Timbermen can keep up a fast pace next week both on offence and defence, and perhaps wear teams down over the busy schedule of games.
The T-men start play Monday (Aug. 26) against the host Kahnawake Mohawks, the first of six games in six days. They play two games on Wednesday – Couling said he probably hasn’t played two lacrosse games in one day since he was 12 years old.
“It’s going to be an unusual tournament and unusual things can happen,” he said. “We have a chance to surprise some teams and if we get into the finals, when we get in the finals, anything can happen.”
It took a decade to get to the Presidents Cup, so now that the T-men are there, they might as well make the most of it.
“I’m pretty excited and everybody here is. It’s a rare experience…” Couling said. “I’d like to see us capitalize, for everybody here and ourselves on the team and lacrosse in Nanaimo in general.”
Vanderhorst said the Timbermen owe it to themselves, and the people who have supported them, to make a good showing next week.
“A lot of things have to go right for us to win,” he said. “But we do feel we have a legitimate shot.”