Success isn’t coming as quickly for the Valley Rebels as they might have anticipated, but head coach Jim Nishiyama is preaching patience.
After a tremendous off-season in terms of player acquisitions, the local senior B box lacrosse club believed it was poised to contend for a President’s Cup berth this season.
As they approach the midway point of the campaign, they currently find themselves at 5-4 – in the middle of the pack in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association, but still in position to make a run at a playoff spot.
“Everybody saw what we had on paper and just assumed we’d have a really good team,” Nishiyama said.
“Guys are getting frustrated because it’s not turning out the way we thought. But if we stay the course, I think we’ll be OK.
“It’s just going to take hard work and some patience – we’ve got to stick to the plan. Our defence is still the best in the league . . . but our offence is struggling. We tend to get into bad habits.”
The Rebels have shown some encouraging signs over the past week, pushing the undefeated Tri-City Bandits in a 10-7 home loss last Friday, and beating the Port Moody Thunder 10-9 on the road Tuesday.
Against the Bandits, the Rebels took a 6-5 lead into the third period at MSA Arena, only to watch Tri-City rally with five goals in the final frame, including three from Brian Gillis. Sean Kelly paced the Abbotsford squad with two goals and an assist.
“It was a really good game,” Nishiyama said. “They got one of those lucky bounces, where it went in off one of our defenders, and they got another quick one right away. It was a deflating moment . . . and we couldn’t make it back.”
The Rebels are on the road this weekend, facing the North Shore Indians at 8 p.m. at West Vancouver Arena. Their next home game is Friday, June 20 vs. the Royal City Capitals (8 p.m., MSA Arena).