Buzz head coach excited despite elimination
OAKVILLE BEAVER — Writing the season-ending story for a team could be compared to writing a eulogy, but Oakville Buzz head coach Sam Rook says that analogy doesn’t quite apply in this case.
Keyan McQueen (in white), pictured during this year's playoffs against the Akwesasne Indians, is one of several young players Oakville Buzz head coach Sam Rook is excited about for next year.
Writing the season-ending story for a team could be compared to writing a eulogy, but Sam Rook says that analogy doesn’t quite apply in this case.
“We’re still alive and kicking,” said the Oakville Buzz head coach, whose team was eliminated from the Ontario Lacrosse Association junior B last weekend with a pair of losses in Akwesasne.
Alive, kicking and already quite excited about next season.
The Buzz’s 2012 campaign came to an end with those two losses in Akwesasne, 12-7 and 13-9 defeats that finished off the Indians’ 3-1 win over Oakville in the best-of-five second-round series.
But while that elimination comes with the usual disappointment, Rook said there’s still plenty of optimism about what the Buzz achieved this year and what might yet lie in store for a relatively young and talented group. After closing the regular season with eight wins in its last 10 games, the Buzz swept Newmarket in the opening round — Oakville’s first series win in five years — before giving the heavily-favoured Indians a stiff test in Round 2.
“What I will take out of this season is that we finally have a real good core group of kids who will still be around (next year) and who have learned all the important things to be successful as a team in the future,” Rook said.
That core group is expected to include Todd Nakasuji, the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs; third-year player Keyan McQueen, who led the Buzz in scoring during the regular season; Greg Campbell, who had 49 points in 20 games during his rookie season; and defender Joel MacBride, someone Rook expects to anchor Oakville’s back end in 2013.
Rook said those players and other returnees have benefited from the tutelage of departing vets like captain Sam White, Bryan Campbell (Greg’s older brother) and goaltender Ian Duffy, among others.
“I think they, as last-year guys, started to figure out all the important things they had to do (to be successful),” Rook said.
But even with those building blocks in place, the Buzz still has some work to do before it can compete with a team like Akwesasne. The Indians were 19-1 during the regular season and outscored their opponents by an average of more than 10 goals per game. Other powerful teams in the league this season like Six Nations (18-2), Clarington (17-1-2) and Halton Hills (17-2-1) also seem to be on a higher level.
“I think it’s attainable,” Rook said of being a dominant club next year. “One of the things we saw (about Akwesasne) is they had a lot of really good offensive depth. They were missing guys because of the world field lacrosse championships in Finland, but they just put in other guys who played really well and were dynamic on offence. That’s one thing we’ll need, more guys who can do that.”
They’ll also need to replace their goaltender — “Duffy was outstanding for us all year,” Rook said — and ratchet up the intensity level just that little bit more.
But, as Rook said, last weekend’s elimination doesn’t necessarily mean the end. This might just be the beginning.
NOTES: Oakville held leads after the first period in both games last weekend. The Buzz was also tied through two periods of Game 3 and trailed by a goal in the second intermission of Game 4… Nakasuji (two goals) and Greg Campbell (three assists) led the Oakville attack in Saturday’s Game 3. Colton Watkinson, Keyan McQueen and Sam Neeb each had a goal and an assist, with Spencer Gallant and Bryan Campbell notching the other Oakville markers… Alex Whiffing and McQueen both had a goal and four assists Sunday. Robert Bentivegna added two goals and a helper. Mike Beirgard and Ryan Callaghan each had a goal and an assist, while Greg Campbell chipped in a single… Rook said he plans on returning next year for a fourth season as head coach of the team.
Get forecast by town or city
Possible matches are listed below. Please select a location from the list below or enter a new location in the text box above.