Posse saddle up for tourney test

The P.G. Posse are building toward the future.

With a goal of staying together for a long time, the novice rep lacrosse squad is taking its first steps toward that future this weekend in Calgary at the Canada Day tournament.

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The Posse, a combination of the two Prince George house league teams of eight- to 10-year-olds, are competing in the 11-team novice B division in the Stampede city.

The tournament features 12 different divisions, ranging from teams in the novice A and peewee girls levels, all the way to the midget A and B categories from across Canada and the U.S.

After six weeks of practice together, it's the first-ever rep tournament the Posse are competing in, one that's organized by the Calgary District Lacrosse Association.

The Posse battle two teams from Alberta today - Blackfalds and High River, followed by games against Medicine Hat and the Venom on Sunday.

The top four teams advance to the playoff round on Monday.

"We're using the Calgary tournament as a springboard as Prince George's A2 (peewee) squad in a few years," said head coach Darcy Nicholson.

"We really focused on young players who are able to return next year as novices.

"The young kids look up to the older kids. They can distribute the ball and have good sportsmanship and they're receptive to coaching."

The Posse are comprised of 17 players - 15 runners and two goalies from the Prince George Red and Blue novice teams which played each other this season in the Great White North Division and against teams from Quesnel, Vanderhoof, Williams Lake and Mackenzie.

When the time came to put the rep team together, Nicholson, who won a couple of provincial silver medals at the bantam and midget levels under the guidance of legendary Prince George coach Dave Jenkins, surrounded himself with a pair of experienced assistant coaches, Jeff Moleski and Steve Claydon, who've both spent plenty of time on the lacrosse box and floor as players.

Claydon, whose son Nathan is on the team, has been in Prince George for more than a year, having moved north with his wife and family from Coquitlam for a lifestyle change.

Claydon grew up playing the sport in Coquitlam, competing in the Minto Cup, the national junior A championship, and the senior-level Presidents Cup. Locally, he's a forward for the Westwood Pub Devils in the Prince George Senior Lacrosse Association.

"I went to help at a couple of practices at the beginning of the year and like watching the kids develop and their skill level increase," said Claydon.

Moleski, a 10-year National Lacrosse League pro, has two sons - Jackson, eight, and Hunter, six, on the Posse.

Jeff was a late bloomer in that he didn't enter the sport until the bantam level.

At the novice level, he said, it's all about skill development.

"They have to have a stick in their hands at all times so they can learn to pass and catch the ball," said Moleski.

"We're going to go there (to Calgary) and compete and try hard and see how we compete against the other teams."

Those stick skills have been the main focus of the team's practices at the outdoor lacrosse box at the corner of Carney Street and Massey Drive. "The big focus is catching and passing on the run and the transition game from offence to defence and vice-versa," said Nicholson.

"This is the first tournament playing at this high of a level. Wins and losses don't matter. It's all about getting better every game."

In the 12-team peewee B level, the Prince George Posse are also competing in Calgary.

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