This Sunday at 1 p.m. the Northland Nissan Assault will get another crack at the Westwood Pub Devils.
The Devils have lived up to their nickname this season and every other team in the Prince George Senior Lacrosse Association would like to take a pitchfork to their perfect 10-0 record.
For that to happen the Assault (6-4, second place) will need to be at full strength. One of those missing pieces, right-handed forward Clarke Anderson, is expected to be back in the lineup after missing seven games with a leg injury.
"It's sure nice having him back," said Dave Jenkins, who also came out of retirement to rejoin his former team. "He understands the pick-and-roll game better than most guys I've played with and that's what good lacrosse is. He hasn't played in seven years but he's getting it back pretty quick."
Assault coach Don Wittmeier convinced Anderson and Jenkins to return to the Assault and they've helped revive a combined Assault/Co-op Petroleum Stylers team that appeared to be in danger of folding.
Jenkins knows his team will have to be at its best to knock off the Devils. Northland Nissan lost 15-3 to the Devils at the start of the season and dropped a 16-10 decision in their second meeting with Westwood in May.
"There hasn't been a lot of parity at their level and in the league in the last few years and we're making an effort, but that only happens when we have our full team show up," said Jenkins. "Often with guys working shift work it's a question whether we're going to give them a game on any night.
"They're certainly the class of the league. Andrew Schwab is scoring at will and they have five or six more guys who put the ball in the net every time they're in position to do so. They're good at camaraderie and keeping their guys close-knit, the organizational aspect is there with that team. Everybody shows up."
Jenkins was out of lacrosse for two seasons after developing a knee injury. At 34, he says it takes longer to shake off the body aches that come with playing one of the most physical contact sports invented.
"I'm a little more sore after every game than the last time I played, I look like I'm walking with a limp the day after every game," said Jenkins.
The Assault will also be in action tonight at 7 p.m. at Kin 1 when the face the Mackenzie Conifex Power Lumberjacks (5-5, third place).
The Devils, who also play the RPR Mechanical/JR Construction Bandits tonight at 9 p.m., are coming off a 10-3 win over the Mackenzie Thursday night.
Devils goalie/manager Jamie Bellamy said his team decided at the end of last season they'd get serious about winning a provincial championship in 2019 with the Prince George playing host to the B.C. senior C tournament, July 26-28.
"We've built a pretty good team this year," said Bellamy. "II think it's just our consistency, we've had a lot of players out (playing) pretty much every game. In this league it seems like the more players you have out the better your chances of winning every game. We have a pretty dedicated group this year.
"We really want to push for provincials. We've done it once before (they won the senior C title in 2017) but we didn't get to play a lot of the Vancouver teams that year, there wasn't that many that came up that year. The guys have booked the time off work this year and they're ready for it."
Schwab leads the PGSLA scoring race and he's had ample support up front from Colton Poulin, Danton Nicholson, Pierce Watson, Cam Braun, Lewis Ennis and Dylan Long. Moleski solidifies the defence with Long, Kyle Adams, Scott Anderson, and Vancouver import Nolan Bayliss. In goal, Patrick Bayliss and Steven Brizan have played most of the games but Bellamy will get more involved in crease action as the season draws to a close. After this weekend, most teams will have just six games left before the playoffs.
The Devils have improved considerably with the addition of Jeff Moleski, who played 194 games of pro lacrosse over 12 seasons with Calgary and Vancouver, and he's now back playing with his twin brother Adam. They were also part of Prince George junior B Posse clan in the early 2000s.
"Jeff has helped us out a lot," said Bellamy. "He's a leader for sure coming out the back gate for us and kind of helps with our younger D guys and kind of tells them where to go. When you have a guy with his level of experience you listen to him and soak in what he learned."
The Assault have Steven Moleski, a younger cousin of Jeff and Adam, playing for them.
"We tell Steve he's the only Moleski that matters," laughed Jenkins. "Defensively, that's the strongest lineup any team is going to go up against in the league and with a guy like Jeff, he can transition the ball twice as fast as any guy in the league. It's nice to play against people of that level and it brings the quality of lacrosse way up."
Jeff and Adam Moleski, Anderson and Jenkins were teammates as teenagers with the Prince George Posse junior B team in 2003. Coached by Dave Jenkins Sr. and Tony Ciolfitto, the Posse won the provincial title and finished third in the Founders Cup national championship. Two other holdovers from that team also play in the PGSLA. Assault goalie Russill Mills returned to the game this year and Jesse Huffman has had a longstanding role with the Bandits.
"In those years with the junior Posse we were playing in two leagues at the same time (the PGSLA and Alberta-based Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League) and we getting lacrosse five nights a week," said Jenkins.
"I think that's why we developed so many players who went on to play junior A and even higher levels. We had Jeff and Adam (Moleski), Chad Tinney, myself, the Cable brothers (Shawn and Scott), the Westwood brothers (George and Bubba), Adam Labarbera, Brandon Atherton, Rusty Mills, Clarke Anderson, Justin Norbraten. It was a long time ago but it was the highlight of my lacrosse career, with all those guys playing for Prince George."