Eight years ago the word regal and Royals (The Armena version) went together about as well as water and oil. But it was that team and those players who kept it all going when the field, players and jerseys were left to be wanting.
With the help of the Armena Athletic Association and a few core players, 2008 kept the team breathing.
It’s hard to imagine the Armena Royals winning the league any sooner than this year. The 2012 edition did something magical, which at the time, seemed like destiny. In actuality the better overall team probably won – in Leduc. They had more experience in the big, close games that shawn through in the end.
This year, the Royals had six players from that team and another five who had PBL playoff experience. The bitterness of defeat helped make this year’s version a little extra sweet. And not just playoff defeats, but crushing defeats at the hands of teams all through 2008-2011. Cole Tomaszewski and Clark Banack were the remaining duo from the 2008 season that saw the Royals win one game and crawl to the finish. That team today, is as much champions as the 2015 edition.
“It’s extra sweet because sitting next to me is Cole (Tomaszewski),” Banack said from the Brewhouse in Camrose. “We’re talking a lot about that 2008 season.”
Adam Johnson was another one who tasted bitter defeat a time or two prior to this year. In 2006 as a rookie his Armena Axemen were felled by the Bardo Athletics in the final. He lost with them again in 2007 versus the Camrose Roadrunners. Then the Milleteers in 2012. Fourth time was finally a charm.
Johnson, who grew up just down the road, was a big reason for the recent upswing the last couple years. Not only was his play on the field solid, he brought in veteran talent with friends from school, like Dean Prpick and David Ritz, but also found rookie Kyler Charchun (in a hockey rink of course), a second-generation Armena men’s ball player.
And last but not least, the Sherbaniuks. Ian came aboard in 2010 when the lean years were just beginning. He brought Landon Miller, and his brother Zenan, an all star on most nights, which led to the acquisitions of Doug Morris and Lyndon Galvin. The Sherbaniuk family missed a family vacation for the 2012 championship. Hopefully this was a little payback for that disappointment!
But, this old author shouldn’t dwell on the past too much. This year’s team was different yet the same as many. But as in any championship year, so many stars must align. Having Jordan Hoover and Sheldon Petryshen at SS and catcher most nights was a boon. This led to the ability to somehow win the close games early on, and comeback on other nights when it didn’t seem possible. Having almost NO RAINOUTS in the league, and only ONE to end the year also benefitted Armena. The season ended on the earliest date ever seen by this author’s 17 years associated with the league.
They met Beaumont in the first round thanks to a tiebreaker and got to go on the road in game one, which is ideal. It also helped sophomores Lyndon Galvin and Doug Morris get fired up against their hometown. Somehow, Rosalind did what the Royals maybe could not. A matchup with the Rebels would have been difficult. Although the Royals have had much success against Ryley in playoffs, the big-hitting Rebels were always a tough matchup. Rosalind was a different ball of wax, but having Rosalind and Ryley beat each other up for three games and use up pitching ultimately left the surging Royals in a great spot to capitalize.
This year’s team believed for once. At the slumping point after blowouts at the hands of Rosalind and Holden, all looked lost. But again, this team had learned, and kept going.
It took many years, many losses, many faces and many nights in the dugout wondering what went wrong. For a few months, the cup is back in Armena. And this bias author can’t be prouder of both the current and past Armena ball players, who, if the trophy had individual names, would all be there side-by-side with the 2015s if I had a say.
Congrats to this year’s Royals and the league on another great season.