Team Canada came out undefeated at the inaugural International Indoor Junior Lacrosse (IIJL) Commonwealth Cup in Melbourne, Australia which took place from March 15 to 18.
One individual that played a significant role in Canada’s triumphant performance is 19-year-old, Shane Friesen, from Swift Current.
Friesen, who has since returned from down under, said that representing Canada, is an experience he will never forget.
“It was awesome being with the team at that caliber,” he stated. “Everyone has the same mental goal of ‘you’re there to win but you're there to have fun at the same time’. Everyone has trust in each other’s skills.
“So, you're with a team where you can trust each and every player to be at that same caliber and know what everyone's talking about when you're coordinating a team plan or a play. It made everything come together really, really quickly, which is something that I really enjoyed.”
Friesen, who has been playing for 11 years, played his minor box lacrosse career with Swift Current Rampage Lacrosse.
Throughout his minor career, the goalie played for Team Saskatchewan and The Junior Rush. He was also selected for the Team Canada world junior box lacrosse last year where Canada won the championship.
The Canadian team defeated Australia in the championship game with a final score of 10-4, earning them the IIJL Commonwealth Cup. Friesen was awarded the title of MVP of the game.
The team also outscored all their opponents 58-36 and walked away with a flawless 4-0.
Friesen, who is currently studying at the University of Saskatchewan, said that bringing home the win was just an added bonus to top off an overall phenomenal experience.
“It was great to win, it was definitely a lot of fun,” he elaborated. “The tournament itself was a lot of fun, and to go over to Australia and win the Commonwealth Cup was just the cherry on top. Overall, the experience was amazing. Everyone wants to go there to win, but I was having a ton of fun.”
The IIJL Commonwealth Cup was initially set to take place in 2020 before it was cancelled, just hours before Canadian players, staff, and coaches were to begin their departure, due to the global pandemic.
The young goalie credits his family and former coaches for the success he has had.
“Brandon Wessner was my first goalie coach, and he was an awesome goalie coach,” he explained. “He was one of the people that pushed me. I tried out for Team Sask my second year of goaltending in Swift, and I would have probably never been there if he didn’t push me to be there.
“Also, all the coaches on SWAT, they've been super beneficial to all of my successes and my parents, because, without them, I would not be here either.”