After a disappointing trip to the Western Canadian Midget AA Championship in 2012 the Prince George IDL Midget Knights are looking for redemption when they open play today at the 2013 event in Swift Current, Sask.
The Knights finished with a 1-3 record last year with a older more experienced lineup then they'll have this year. Only four players, including Tre Potskin, returned to the team. The 18-year-old said he knew he'd have to take on a different role on this year's squad.
"Being an older guy I have to be a little less goofier and a little more mature," said Potskin, a third-year midget Knight. "I knew that we'd have a younger team so I'd have to pick it up a little more with batting and being a leader. I just came in good shape and did the best I could for the boys."
After a disappointing showing in the Prince George Senior Baseball League, where they Knights finished with a 1-17 record, they went on to surprise their peers at the provincial championship. Ranked eighth, out of 10 teams, heading into the tournament, the Knights ended up winning their second straight B.C. title.
"We hit everything, so as long as we still have hot bats we should be fine," said Potskin. "Everybody's hitting right now, instead of just one, two, three, four. It's all nine guys hitting."
Knights assistant coach Marcel Belanger added the Knights started hitting better at the end of the men's league season, going from having the mercy rule put into effect early in the season to forcing their opponents to earn the win in a full seven innings by the end.
Belanger said he believes many of the Knights provincial rivals looked at the team's men's league record and assumed they'd be the free space on the bingo card.
Other teams in the Western Canadians include the host Swift Current Indians, the Manitoba rep Brandon Knights, Alberta's Bonnyville Braves and the Saskatchewan rep Lloydminster Twins.
Belanger said he knows virtually nothing about the Knights opponents, which is OK.
"I think it can be [a good thing], so there's no expectations," said Belanger. "Even going online and looking doesn't tell you about the teams. We suspect it'll be top calibre, but the pitching should be no different than what we've seen in men's league."
There are five players on the Knights, including Potskin, who will end their midget careers in Swift Current.
The Knights begin their quest for a Western Canadian banner today (2 p.m. PST) versus the Twins. Saturday the Knights start the day with a game (8 a.m.) against the Indians and then face the Brandon Knights at 2 p.m. The final game is Sunday, 8 a.m. versus the Braves.
The top two teams after the round robin will meet in the championship game Sunday at 2 p.m.
* After Potskin returns from the Western Canadians he'll put away his bat and pick up his hockey stick as he prepares for a tryout with the Western Hockey League Prince George Cougars, starting Aug. 23.
Last year, Potskin played for the BCMML Cariboo Cougars after attending the Everitt Silvertips training camp, where he played in four exhibition games.
"It should be a good year this year if I make it," said Potskin. "I'm an 18-year-old so I'm going to take one more crack at it. I was close last year and I'm in better shape now."
If he's unable to crack the Cougars' lineup, Potskin said he'll head east to play for the junior A OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.