Point Edward Pacers head coach Jim Bell says the equation for ending a nine-year playoff drought in OLA Junior “B” lacrosse this season is not complicated.
“We had games last year where we scored 13 times, but lost by giving up 15,” he said. “Our goal is to be a better defensive team.”
The Pacers surrendered 283 goals last season, the third most in the 26-team league and the most the franchise had given up since 1998.
But, despite a 5-15 record last season, Bell says the Pacers are not rebuilding.
“We are re-focusing,” said Bell, who took over behind the bench after the club lost its first seven games last season following a return to the village from Sarnia.
Point Edward will have more depth this season and will depend on the likes of Dan Charlton, Connor Smith, Kevin Conroy and Corey Burr to provide scoring.
Charlton was fifth in league scoring with 105 points in 20 games and named the team’s Most Valuable Player last season, while Burr was a second round draft choice of the Toronto Beaches Junior “A” club this year. He plans to play for both Toronto and the Pacers.
Bell says the Pacers will carry a 21-player roster, but league rules only allow teams to dress 18 players per game.
He says that will keep players honest and give the coaching staff more options if players are not carrying their weight.
“We haven’t had that amount of depth for six or seven years.”
Jim Purves of the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League and James Arnold will return to the Point Edward coaching staff this season. They’ll be joined by Kerry Adams, Ryan Charteris and Randy Dunn.
Following a solid training camp, Bell is looking forward to the regular season, which opens Sunday, April 27 at Point Edward against the Wallaceburg Red Devils.
“(Wallaceburg) have lost some guys, but that doesn’t really matter because we have a solid rivalry with them,” said Bell. “We expect them to come in and try and push us around, but we’re not going to let that happen.”
Point Edward’s home schedule includes games on three Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m., three Saturday games at 7 p.m., three Wednesday encounters at 8 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
– Barry Wright