The Calgary Raiders have something to prove to the rest of the country.
Already guaranteed a berth in the Minto Cup national junior A championship in Edmonton at the end of August, the Raiders want to show everyone they belong there.
The host city gets an automatic berth in the Minto meaning the Raiders -- who along with the Edmonton Miners are the only two jr. A clubs in the province -- will represent Alberta regardless of the outcome of their best-of-seven provincial championship, which starts tonight in Edmonton.
That has caused some ill will in the lacrosse hotbeds of B.C. and Ontario, whose leagues will send one representative to the Minto, said Raiders director of player personnel and assistant coach Hamish Knox.
"It's huge for us to beat Edmonton and take the provincial championship," said Knox. "We don't want to go as the bridesmaids. There's been a lot of talk in the other junior A communities across the country that it's unfair because we only have a two-team league and both of us get to go. We want to go there as the legitimate Alberta champions, like we would any other year."
The Raiders finished the season 14-4-1, one point behind the 15-4 Miners, giving Edmonton home-floor advantage for the provincial final. Games 1 and 2 go tonight and tomorrow before the teams head to Calgary, where the game times have yet to be finalized.
Edmonton has swept Calgary the last two years in the provincial final.
"They thumped us two years in a row, we make no bones about that. It sucks," said Knox. "That's why we're eager to beat them this year. But the series is going to be a war."