They were playing for a different team, based in a different city, playing on a different continent, under different rules.
But for three local lacrosse players, those differences didn’t mean much when they came home with gold medals.
Jamie Bellamy, Andrew Schwab and Pierce Watson all play for the Devils in the Prince George Senior Men’s Lacrosse League, but last week they were playing for the Vancouver Pioneers in a tournament in Prague, Czech Republic.
“I played junior lacrosse with their affiliate team,” Bellamy, a goaltender, said Tuesday. “I knew a lot of the guys, so I asked if they needed a back-up goalie.
“They said they did, so then I asked if they could use a couple of extra players as well.”
The 21-team Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament had teams from Canada, the United States and across Europe. Watson says the three Prince George players didn’t have much time to get used to their new teammates.
“We had one practice after we got there, and that was the day before our first game.”
The tournament was also played under the Federation of International Lacrosse rules, which had a few changes from what the local players were used to.
“The nets were bigger,” Bellamy said, “and the rules for what players could do in the crease were a bit different.”
But, he adds, they were able to adjust fairly quickly to the new rules.
The Pioneers won all seven games they played in the tournament, including a 9-6 win in the final against another Canadian team, the Green Gaels.
“They were a team from Ontario,” Watson says. “We saw them a couple of times, and knew they would be a tough team. They had way more players than we did.”
The Pioneers had most of their offensive players along for the trip, so Watson, who normally plays offfense, moved back to defence, and made the North Amecian All-Star team, which beat Team Europe.
Watson was also picked to compete in the hardest-shot competition.
“I was up against a Czech guy who was about seven feet tall,” he remembers. “We each had three shots, and we each hit exactly the same speed with each shot, so they called it a tie.”
The Pioneers knew they had to come out quickly in their games, since the games were shorter than regular games in Canada.
“You had to be on the ball all the time,” Watson says. “It was hard to come back, because you didn’t have a lot of time.”
When it was all over, the Pioneers had won, and the three Prince George players had a standing invitation.
“They said we could come back down next year,” Watson said.
“It’s definitely something I’d want to do again,” Bellamy added.
There was one other difference between the games in Europe and the games played here, Watson says.
“The tournament was held outdoors. The final was in the rain.”
Bellamy and Watson expected to be in the Devils lineup for their game Thursday against Quesnel. Schwab is working in Armstrong, and should be back up in June to start playing again.