The head coach of the Point Edward Pacers is optimistic about the future of the Junior “B” lacrosse franchise, but disappointed the club missed the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year.
The Pacers lost the final game of the season in Wallaceburg in overtime to finish the campaign with a record of 8-12, two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Ontario Lacrosse Association's Western Conference.
The eight victories were the most by the team since its last postseason appearance in 2004.
“It would have been nice to get our feet wet in the playoffs,” said Randy Dunn. “But all in all there was a lot of improvement by a lot of players.”
He said the young team and grew together throughout the season.
Dunn referenced a game early in the campaign when the players took off their helmets for the national anthem and more than half of them had “fancy new haircuts,” courtesy of the team’s older players.
“That kind of shows you the youth that we had on the team,” he said. “They came together, (as a team) they were hanging out together and that really goes a long way.”
The atmosphere around the Pacers is much different than in recent years when there was a lot of disconnect between the players, he said.
Dunn pointed to an overtime loss to Hamilton in Point Edward's home opener in April as one game he’d like to have back. The visitors scored the equalizer with less than four seconds to play in regulation time and went to beat the Pacers, 10-8 in overtime.
“When it happened I was hoping it wasn't coming to bite us, but it did,” he added.
Averaging just over seven goals per game, Dunn said “putting more balls in the net” will be a priority next season.
Despite losing only two players, Liam Wright and Tyler Hastings, to graduation, he expects battles for spots next season because of the number of talented players coming up from the Pacers' minor system.
“Our goal was to finish 10-10 and we just finished a little bit shy,” he said. “But, I think things are moving in the right direction.”