The Saskatchewan SWAT took their time making the jump to the Junior A division of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League, and now their patience is paying off.
A strong finish to the regular season got the SWAT into the playoffs in their first season in the division and they are brimming with confidence ahead of their best-of-five semifinal series against the Calgary Raiders.
“We’ve been there so close every game. It’s our turn to win and this is the time to do it,” forward Baden Boyenko said.
Teams often go through growing pains immediately after moving up, and while the SWAT have had their fair share, they still managed to finish the regular season with a record of 8-11-1, good enough for third-place in the five-team division.
Now that they’ve made the playoffs, they’re not interested in simply being happy to be there. Saskatchewan has its sights set on playing for the championship.
To do that, they need to get past the Raiders. Calgary won four of the five regular-season meetings between the two clubs but all five games were tightly contested battles, giving the SWAT hope that they can pull off the upset.
“We’ve had some really close games. We’ve had a tie that we believe was a game we should have won. We had another one that we think we let slip away, so we may be the underdogs, especially on the stat sheet, but they’ve all been one-goal games,” assistant coach Jay Price said.
Boyenko and Keenan Koswin combined for 109 goals during the regular season and will be counted on to lead the attack in the playoffs. Boyenko’s scoring prowess is well documented but Koswin’s emergence this year gives the Raiders another weapon to worry about.
“Even in Junior B I didn’t put up nearly this many points but when you’re playing with such talented guys all throughout the offence it makes the points come real easily,” Koswin said.
“They can’t just be watching me,” added Boyenko. “They have to watch Keenan too, because if they’re not watching him, he’s going to be scoring goals all day.”
The first two games of the series will be played in Calgary this weekend, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for July 22 and 23 at Kinsmen Arena in Saskatoon.