Armena Royals History
1950s – 1970s
“Good old country hardball” was rampant throughout the county dating back to the late teens. Small towns and halls still display photos of the first teams in Alberta. In the 50s and 60s, the Powerline Baseball League, one of the oldest in the country, featured farmers and miners walking the rail line into Camrose for games after a hard day’s work.
Many of the outlying county farmers and miners played out of what is today a closed-down mining ghost town of Dinant. A picture of a Dinant team made up of various Skarets, Throndsons, Ericksons and Anton Olson hangs in the Camrose Sports Hall of Fame at the Max McLean Arena.
With one generation of county ball players now with kids who had grown up watching their dads play, the young men from the county who had been playing ball in Camrose and other small towns of the Powerline League decided to start a new mens team. There was a diamond at the Armena school grounds, but it was in some disrepair and also needed to be expanded. Many hours were spent landscaping, seeding grass, building fences and backstops, concession booths, putting in power and so on. This was the beginning of the Armena Royals.
The Armena Royals franchise started in 1981 as local high school kids banded together with some older players who defected from the Camrose team that was a powerhouse in the late 70s. After a bumpy beginning and strong community support, the team, comprised of many young fathers, surprisingly made it to the championship against their Camrose brethren in 1983. The players included Bob Wickstrom, Daryl and Carvel Skaret, Ralph Berke, Keith Guild, Verlyn Olson, Wilf Story, Duke Anderson and Warren Aspenes.
After losing the 1983 championship to Camrose in three low-scoring one-run ball games, the young team redeemed themselves the following season with a come-from-behind three-game victory over the Ryley Rebels. With the Rebels up 1-0 in the series and leading at home in game two, fans headed to the bar to get the beer on ice in the late innings. A memorable Royals rally sent the series to game three, which Armena won on home field. Verlyn Olson struck out 15 in the deciding game after a disappointing game one loss.
Although the Royals didn’t win another title, the team hung around and competed into the early 1990s. However, family life began to take over for those who had started the team and won in 1984. With it becoming increasingly hard to field a team, the Royals decided to recruit local high school kids. To their dismay, very little baseball was being played and, as a result, few kids had the interest or the skills to take part. Camrose had even completely gotten out of baseball and had only fastpitch. This ultimately led to the end of the PBL Royals, but the start of something else, as the young Armena Royal dads began to focusing on launching a minor ball program in the hamlet.
1983 Armena Royals
Minor Ball Booms
1991 – 1998
Despite the disappointment of not having a men’s team any more, demand and appetite boomed for baseball all around the country, and the county was no exception. Within a few years, Armena had some 150 kids playing on 10 different teams from mosquito to midget levels. A lot of the kids and coaches came from the Hay Lakes area and even though a second diamond was built in Armena, there were so many teams that many of the games were played in Hay Lakes as well. At its height, Armena minor ball teams competed in dozens of provincial championships, winning several and had kids from as far away as Round Hill, New Sarepta and Bawlf coming to play for the small-town baseball meca. Eventually, Camrose started a baseball program again and that gave many players and coaches a place to play closer to home. As the numbers declined, one of the final groups of bantam and midget aged players were graduating in the late 90s. These teams were some of the best Armena had produced and baseball was in these young men’s blood. It appeared baseball might be dying in Armena, but here came the Powerline Baseball League again with another generation coming down the pike from not only Armena, but other surrounding towns.
1996 Armena Royals
Modern Day Re-birth and Dynasty
The modern day Armena Royals/Axemen franchise began in 1999 when the Armena midget team asked to play in the Powerline Baseball League. The team was coached by Verlyn Olson and Ron These who had coached the young team for many years through the minor league days. Olson was influential in getting the team accepted in the men’s league, a league he had played in almost 20 years ago as an original Armena Royal. He decided the team should keep the same name and no one objected. He wanted to start a men’s team that would show honour and class in the coming years as the midgets turned into adults. The team competed as a PBL member but also qualified for Midget A provincials held in Elk Point, Alberta. The young team filled with Hans Olson, Clark Banack, Brett Harke, Joel Boettger, Jon Wolyshin, Jason Buzzell, Brett Harke, Russell These, Mike Sampson, Shaun Moore, and a few others had a respectable 4-9-1 record but did not make the playoffs.
In 2000, Verlyn Olson, looking for a veteran plugger to help teach the Royal how to play men’s ball, contacted former Sunburst League player Scott Peterson to possibly player-coach the second-year franchise. Peterson taught in Hay Lakes and was the school’s basketball coach. He knew some of the players, especially Clark Banack and Russ These whom he coached. He combined both his baseball skills, which hadn’t been used in a few years, and his coaching skills to guide a very young team to a .500 (7-7) record. The team qualified for its first ever playoffs in just its second season. However, the Camrose Roadrunners defeated the shorthanded Royals 2-0 in the best-of-three semi-finals.
2001 marked a season of great possibility. Scott Peterson continued to player-coach and the Royals stormed out to a 6-2 start. A late season fade saw the Royals fall to 7-7 on the season but still qualify for the playoffs. They defeated the Bardo Athletics on Tuesday, July 17, for their first ever PBL playoff victory. Peterson struck out 12 batters in the game for a 6-4 win. However, Bardo came back to win the semi-final best-of-three series 2-1 as the Royals dropped their first-ever home playoff game 6-2 with Jason Buzzell struggling on the hill and then succumbed to Bardo at the BRAG with a short roster two days later to end the season. Although the early exit was disappointing, the season was another improvement for a young team that had missed the playoffs, then lost in the first round 2-0 before now edging so close to a championship appearance.
Watch a controversial play, in Lamont’s eyes, that ended a game that season. Clark Banack slides in for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied. Keep in mind it’s a force play. You be the judge.
Prior to the 2002 season, Armena looked like they might not be able to field a team. A few of the core players in the previous seasons did not come back or were out of town.
Luckily, the once despised and hated rival Camrose Roadrunners were short on bodies, too. It was known as the “Deal with the Devil,” in Armena, but it also triggered the beginning of a dynasty with many a plethora of new faces. The Royals acquired former Roadrunners Wes Wilson and Wes Harrison and added free agents John Spigott, Tyler Warawa, Curtis Smith, and others to help propel the Royals to a franchise best 10-5 record, good enough for second place in the six team league.
The Royals won their first home playoff game Tuesday, July 9, over the Lamont Steelers and won their first playoff series with a 2-1 series victory over the Steelers. The Royals went on to defeat the defending PBL champion Brewers in two games to capture the PBL title in their fourth year of existence.
In 2003 the team continued its success but with a different look. The Royals changed the team name and colours. The black and red ensemble and the name Axemen were painstakingly chosen by Scott Peterson and Wes Harrison.
Following the addition of two teams to the PBL and then the reduction of one, the league only played a 12-game schedule. The Axemen finished in first place with a 9-3 record and won the PBL title again with series victories over the Bardo Athletics and a reassembled younger Camrose Roadrunner squad.
Three of the four playoff wins featured a come-from-behind effort. The Axemen were down to their final outs in both game twos before the Axemen had a couple key hits to take the lead and win the games. Jason Buzzell hit a two-out two-run homer in Bardo to tie the game in the seventh before the Axemen added two more runs to win the game and the series. Then in the final, Darren Helgren hit a two-out two-run bases-loaded single in the seventh to go ahead of Camrose and win the championship.
Watch the intro for Armena’s web site before the team changed names and Web sites in 2003.
After back-to-back Powerline championships, the Axemen had a tall task to repeat for a third straight campaign. With an almost identical lineup as a year prior, the team exploded out to an 8-0-1 record.
The new addition of Bryan Toles and the reacquiring of Brett Harke bolstered the left side of the Axemen plate, and helped the team lead the league offensively and to a first place regular season finish. Despite a late-season collapse, which saw the Axemen lose two of their last three games, they rebounded just in time for playoffs.
They defeated the Ardrossan Steelers two games to none in the PBL semi-final series. However, they then lost the first game of the championship series to a new expansion team from Camrose, the Camrose Colts, whose top two pitchers and young hitters toppled the Axemen in a neutral-site game played in Ohaton due to heavy rains in Armena. The Axemen came back and won two close games with Scott Peterson and Joel Boettger platooning the deciding game on the hill to win their third straight PBL title.
The Mighty Begin to Fall and Break-Up
The team that once looked unbeatable finally found an opponent in its league that outgunned them in all facets of the game. Add in the fact the Axemen lost all-star John Spigott and went without long-time Armena hurler and infielder Clark Banack for most of the season, and the championship run looked in peril from the very beginning. However, the team added some new faces to fill the void.
Former Ryley Rebel Nick Mizera took over first base duties. Slick-playing Jordan Riopel entered as a new outfielder. Matt Danko and Bob Charchun also added some experience from the Battle River League. The squad seemed to gel quickly and manufactured another solid start out of the gate, typical of an Armena team, but then hit a road block in the fifth game against the Camrose Colts.
With an already strong lineup, the Colts added several Camrose Roadrunners after the team folded in the off season. Ironically, the first folding of the Camrose Roadunners helped blossom the Axemen into a championship team, before the second folding forced them to relinquish the title. The Axemen went on a 1-3 slide after a 4-0 start, dropping to 5-3 on the season. It was the worst eight-game start since 1999 for the franchise. They battled back to a 10-6 regular season record.
However, three of the six losses came at the hands of the Camrose Colts, who beat them 5-1, 4-2 and 11-7 in the three-game set. Armena once again faced their foes from Bardo in the first round and dispensed of them in two well-played ball games 5-2 and 7-0. Joel Boettger threw a one-hitter in game two with the game played in Tofield due to a rain-soaked field in Bardo.
After a delay of the championship series because Camrose said they didn’t have enough players on the night of the Big Valley Jamboree Kickoff Party, the Camrose Colts swept the Axemen 8-2 and 9-2 in the final series to end an Axemen dynasty. The Colts shut down an anemic Axmen offence, holding Armena to a .222 average for the season and allowing just 14 runs in the five games.
With a new Camrose team, the Camrose Cubs, entering the Sunburst League in Edmonton, the Axemen once again had the best team in the weaker Powerline League with defections from the Colts. That is on paper anyway. After a stellar regular season, which saw the franchise win its third regular season title, the Axemen almost stumbled in the first round to the re-ignited and young Camrose Roadrunners.
Scott Peterson pitched a deciding-game 8-0 shutout in the semi-final series to vault Armena into its fifth consecutive Powerline League final. But just when things were looking up for the Axemen, they ran into a juggernaut that seemingly had been cursed for the last 30 years.
After Bardo knocked off a Peterson-led Axemen squad 6-3 in Armena for game one, they looked to wrap it up in game two until rains postponed the contest. But the A’s wouldn’t be turned away from their first championship since 1976. A 13-8 game-two victory with Armena throwing a variety of hurlers ended the Axemen chance at their fourth title in five years.
The reality of the Sunburst League’s depth and ability forced the Camrose Cubs to reconsider their attempt after just one season. And that meant a strong Camrose Roadrunner squad for 2007. Still, the Axemen also bolstered their lineup to add to the already strong core of veterans. Armena cruised through the regular season ending up tied with Camrose for first, but winning the tie-breaker because they won the season series. They then mowed down the Brewers 20-4, and then 4-3 to enter the PBL final for the sixth straight season.
Of course, Camrose beat Bardo in the semis to set up a rubber match of the 2004 and 2005 series. A tight game one saw the Axemen lose a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning before coming unglued. The 12-2 loss was too much for the Axemen to overcome. The bats didn’t come alive and the duo of Steve and Paul Ofrim gave a 1-2 punch on the Roadrunner hill that outgunned and out-slung Peterson and Boettger. A well-played but disappointing 4-1 loss in game two capped another second-place season.
A shocking and controversial spring of 2008 saw the Armena Axemen surprisingly split from the Powerline Baseball League and head south to Camrose. The team would apply and be granted a first-year franchise in the higher caliber North Central Alberta Baseball League.
This left a void in Armena, and long-time Armena ballplayer Clark Banack took over the reins of the men’s team, which would re-bill itself as the Armena Royals. Both teams knew it would be a challenge, but it was still disturbing to see them both struggle to identical 1-6 records out of the gate.
The Royals, who only had a couple former PBL Axemen in Steve Thiessen, Mike Sampson and Clark Banack, filled out the rest of the roster with several players who had not played ball in a few years (ie: Russ These and Hans Olson, among others) and a bunch of young rookies. The team never recovered, and finished the campaign at 1-14 and in last place. The Axemen, however, who had many Armena Axemen players, as well as some new additions from the Camrose area, rebounded with a five-game winning streak and an 8-3 finish to the season that saw them finish at a respectable 9-9 and in sixth place.
Despite the recovery, by the end of the season, rumours spread of unhappy players on both teams who were possibly looking for new teams or quitting in 2009. But many players also praised the new league the Axemen played in, and that Armena created a place for those who would not have had a place to play otherwise. It easily made 2008 one of the weirdest, most interesting, and at the same time, most disappointing seasons for Axemen/Royal fans ever.
It was a year of great promise when the Armena Royals, who many thought might die in the winter, came out claiming they had acquired former players Adam Johnson, Joel Boettger, Brett Harke and a surprising return of Jason Buzzell. They then got all their promising young rookies back and playoffs, rather than survival, was the goal. Joel Boettger didn’t disappoint on the hill, and a 4-4 start to the season with two Boettger wins over Ryley was just what management had hoped for during the first half.
Then a heart-breaking loss to Tofield, followed by back-to-back 4-2 losses to Camrose put the team on the brink. In a must-win game played in Sherwood Park due to Armena’s infield being washed out, Kyle Ellis pitched five innings of no-hit ball before Joel Boettger nailed down a save against the Leduc Milleteers to extend the season a couple more days.
The team just needed to beat Bardo and then exact revenge against Tofield for a playoff berth on the final day of the season. Up 9-2 after three innings in Bardo (Again due to Armena’s washed-out infield), the Royals crumbled. Bardo stormed back and capitalized off errors and poor pitching to take a 12-9 lead. Armena’s bats, a disappointment all season, went quiet again and the gut-wrenching loss ended the year – a 5-10 record and fifth place in the standings for Armena.
Rising from the Ashes
Bad news was delivered before the start of 2010 when Joel Boettger, Clark Banack and Adam Johnson all said they would not be around full-time. Banack would only be around for a few games in June while Boettger contemplated retirement and Adam Johnson worked in Fort McMurray. Still, the Royals added Steve Thiessen, Brian Rademacher and Chad Hooke as well as Brian Ellert and Troy Sharpe to the contingent in hopes of filling the void.
However, offence was an issue the year before and it continued in 2010. A final regular season record of 2-13 and a team batting average of .253 was not what the locals had hoped for who were looking for a step forward rather than back. One positive on the year was the team’s hosting of a one-day tournament in Armena to start the year on a gorgeous May 15. It was the first time a modern-day Armena men’s team had ever hosted a tournament.
With 2010 being a step backwards, all bets were off in 2011 as the team did not acquire any big name free agents. However, they did improve the lineup it seemed with young talent such as Landon Miller, Chad Samoisetti and Zack Kempf. The team beat Bardo on opening night (in Bardo due to repairs on the Armena infield) then defeated Camrose in its sixth game to move to 2-4.
Both wins came when sophomore knuckleballer Ian Sherbaniuk took the hill. But as the season wore on, the Royals offence was the culprit again, and numerous games ended lopsided that saw the young team leading or tied going into the sixth and seventh innings.
The season ended with back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Leduc (a game they were ahead going into the last inning) and Bardo (a game they were tied going into the final inning) before getting leveled by Camrose in a game that was postponed three times, including one night when a massive hail storm crashed down on Armena, but had to be played due to the post-season implications. The Royals finished 2-12 and managers Clark Banack and Jason Buzzell called for changes in the offseason to try and move from continuous rebuild mode to playoff contenders in 2012.
No one besides maybe a remarkably optimistic Clark Banack gave the Armena Royals 2012 edition a chance. A preseason article deservingly had them pegged for two wins and dead last place.
Unbeknownst to some outside the team, free agents Adam Johnson, Cole Tomaszewski and Joel Boettger all returned to the team in relatively full-time roles. They added two rookies in Brendan Kudrowich and what turned out to be rookie of the year in the PBL, Zenan Sherbaniuk, brother of the now-veteran Ian Sherbaniuk.
The team surprisingly defeated Bardo three times in a strange start to the year scheduling wise, and to get out to a decent start. But a 5-run blown lead to Holden and a 1-0 shutout at the hands of the Ryley Rebels in Joel Boettger’s start of the season appeared to be the writing on the wall for another non-playoff season. But then back-to-back wins over Camrose followed by two late wins on the road over Ryley secured third place and a date with the Rebels in the first round.
After winning game one 10-0, the Royals stormed back down 8-1 after five to win 9-8 on a walk-off Ian Sherbaniuk single to head to the PBL championship. Many were calling it a Cinderella story as Boettger shut down the Milleteers in a game one 6-1 victory in Leduc. But the three-time champs bounced back and won game two in front of a huge crowd in Armena before coming back in Leduc, down 2-0 after three to score six runs in the fourth and hold on for a 6-2 win and their fourth straight title.
Despite the run in 2012 and the maturity level continuing to rise for the young Armena team each year, other players in the league openly pegged the Royals as one-hit wonders who caught lightning in a bottle for a few weeks and came up short of a Cinderella finish. However, the 2013 Royals changed that impression early on.
This in contrast to some late blows to their roster, which included long-time original 2008 Royals Cody Sroka and Kyle Ellis gone for school while catcher Chad Samoisette went back to coaching and ran practices most game nights to take out last year’s rookie of the year Zenan Sherbaniuk for most of the campaign.
The team scrambled, namely player/director of scouting/GM Adam Johnson who inked four fellow hockey bros in Dean Prpick, Paul Kolida, David Ritz and Dave Andreassen to fill out the squad. The Royals got a career-high five wins from knuckleballer Ian Sherbaniuk on the hill, who challenged the modern-day Armena record of six victories in a season. They then rode a high-flying offence to a 9-3 record, within one game of clinching a first-place finish. But then something happened.
Losses to Beaumont and Leduc to end the season put the Royals tied for first with Holden, who won on a tiebreaker by just one run. Suddenly Ian Sherbaniuk and grey-bearded playoff performer Wes Wilson were lost to injury just before being matched up against the four-time defending champion Leduc Milleteers in the first round. Veteran Joel Boettger pitched well, but the offence couldn’t cash the runners in scoring position in a 4-1 opening game loss in Armena.
Game two in Leduc (The most hated diamond in the league) took place on a windy and noisy night along Highway 2. After early 2-0 and 6-4 leads, lefthanded pitching Prpick’s day on the hill suffered from too many free passes as the Milleteers cashed in two bases-clearing doubles to score six in the third inning and hang on to a 10-8 win.
The season marked another improvement but left just as many questions for 2014. Ellis announced he may not come back next season. Boettger and Clark Banack hinted at retirement, and a year with so much promise ended with a somewhat empty feeling.
After having their best season since coming back as the Armena Royals in 2013, but ending on a four-game losing streak, hopes were high heading to the 2014 campaign for a new retooling Royals squad. With all stars Zenan and Ian Sherbaniuk, Adam Johnson and Dave Andreassen returning for another season, it looked like the team may be able to stay competitive. The additions of rookies Doug Morris, Lyndon Galvin and Kenton White, plus the reacquisition of catcher Chad Samoisette cemented the Royals as a potential playoff team.
A hot 7-2 start to the season, and an eventual three-game sweep of five-time defending champion Leduc, led to a 9-4 record heading into the final game of the season – once again, putting the Royals a win away from clinching the pennant, just like the year before. The red hot Ryley Rebels clipped the Royals 8-3, but after it all shook out, Armena ended up in a five-way tie for first place and won the tie breaker thanks to a 5-4 record against the other tied teams, to win their first pennant since 2007. That set up a first-round matchup with the Holden Blue Jays who took game one 3-1 in Armena after Armena stranded several baserunners including bases loaded with none out midway through the game. Rookie Lyndon Galvin would take the hill in game two in Holden and shut down the Jays enroute to an 8-3 win to force a deciding game back in Armena. With the Royals up 4-3 heading to the fifth, Zak Lang of Holden launched a 3-run homer, his second dinger of the series, and the Blue Jays held on for a 7-6 win to end the 2014 Royals season.
Despite another disappointing end, the season showed even more promise than previous years. Doug Morris led the team in hitting, and Galvin was another potential top-notch arm. Workhorse Ian Sherbaniuk finally set the record for wins in a season from an Armena pitcher with a 6-2 record. Zenan Sherbaniuk and Adam Johnson both made the all star team. With so many young players and the league seemingly getting better, it would appear the Royals are close, but still collecting experience, all the while showing tremendous progress as one of the leagues more stable franchises.
Back on Top With a Blip
Coming off a successful season and close playoff series, the Royals looked poised to be a formidable foe to be reckoned with after being also-rans for so many years. However, just before spring-training started, long-time player and administrator Jason Buzzell moved back to the States, and some people wondered, especially off the field, how the Royals would do. They did re-add Dean Prpick and picked up Sheldon Petryshen to fortify the catching duties. Pitching in by committee, the team organized and rallied around each other for one of the best starts in modern-day Armena history going 8-1. It featured five one-run wins, including an epic 11-inning affair against newcomer to the league, Rosalind, and an amazing six-run comeback against Ryley that resembled the 2012 playoff comeback.
But just as things were hitting sky-high, a humbling couple weeks struck at just the right time. Holden and Rosalind each slammed Armena 10-0 and 10-1 in mid-June and the Royals dropped to 10-4 and finished third place. Despite the trip-ups, a first round date with Beaumont saw Beaumont’s own Lyndon Galvin and the bats come out hotter than a tin roof in the middle of July for a 14-4 5-inning mercy. They followed that up with knuckleballer Ian Sherbaniuk and newly minted closer Jordan Hoover teaming up for a 3-0 shutout in game two. After Rosalind took out the defending champion Ryley Rebels in three hard-fought games, the Royals were ready to pounce as they crushed the A’s 15-5 in game one. Game two was a different story as each team traded punches and Doug Morris toiled on the hill. With the Royals up 6-5 in the sixth, they notched four runs before lightening and thunder filled the sky and the game was called causing a conversation and discussion before finally realizing, it was over, solidifying the Armena Royals as 2015 PBL Champions.
With the rebuild seemingly complete, the Royals were once again a team to be reckoned with on most nights. However, an extremely competitive PBL meant playoffs were never a sure thing for even the best teams in the league. Add in the fact Adam Johnson left for Calgary, and some new- and old-look Royals joined the fray. An 0-2 start followed by a mish-mash of losses and two three-game winning streaks put the Royals into contention to win the regular season title outright (2014 was a five-way tie) for the first time in modern existence. At 9-3, they needed to just beat Bardo and Beaumont for their best finish ever. Two one-run losses, however, set them up with a rematch with the Beaumont Angels in the first round.
Kyler Charchun threw a complete-game shutout in game one for a 4-0 win, but Beaumont bounced back for a 9-7 win in game two. It was comeback city in game three as the Royals bested Beaumont in the deciding game 7-6. That set up a rematch of the 2015 series and no one was expecting what ended up turning into one of the most epic finales to a PBL season ever. The A’s took game one 9-6 in Armena before the Royals got the shutout on the road in game two. The rest, as they say, is history. Two days. Sixteen innings. Seventeen runs later. The Armena Royals lost in the most heart-breaking of fashions. 9-8 in 16 innings. The game, will be remembered forever. And the Royals, once again proved they were contenders. However, this one will hurt for a long time. So close. So close.
With such a devastatingly intense and close finish to 2016, and many of the team leaving for life reasons, the board was wiped clean in 2017.
Despite some young… and old additions with the likes of former Armena champion Paul Kruizinga and his son Nolan, among others, the team struggled early with some very close losses.
It was quickly noted the 2017 Armena Royals might be the best team to start a PBL season 0-7 ever. Despite not getting beat by more than four runs, they couldn’t find a way to win until their eighth game against the Leduc when they walked off the Milleteers at home. But back-to-back one-run losses to Rosalind and Camrose put the playoffs out of reach The boys battled to win their final two games before losing another one-run ball game in a disappointing sixth place finish at 3-11.
A long cold winter heated up with the news that Zenan Sherbaniuk, Lyndon Galvin, David Ritz and Sheldon Petryshen were coming back full time. The wiley veteran Clark Banack, Landon Miller and knuckleball administrator Ian Sherbaniuk rounded out the core. But the pickup of Luke Ryan, an athletic volleyball player from southern Alberta and a band of merry men Doug Morris picked up, including his younger brother, set the team on the right track from the get-go.
The team stormed out to an 8-0 start, beating seven of the eight other teams in the now nine-team PBL. The start was the best in Royals history and matched the 8-0-1 start of the 2004 Armena Axemen for wins to start a season. But mid-June dog days hit and back-to-back losses to Holden and the expansion Edmonton Expos set up a stretch drive that saw the Royals go 3-1 in the final four to clinch first place with again, a Royals’s best 11-3 record.
The playoffs were a different story though. The Holden Blue Jays upended the Edmonton Expos in a new 4v5 one-game playoff. A bye for the Royals paid dividends with a wild 8-7 victory in game one. But Holden’s ace Kyle Muzechka dominated game two for the Jays before the Royals Doug Morris chucked in game three. After an early lead, the weather began to play a factor, with a rain delay followed by an ending with lightening and thunder as the final out was caught for a 5-3 clincher.
That set up a rematch of the 2012 series versus the rebounding Leduc Milleteers. After Leduc won game one, the resilient Royals came alive in game two on the backs of starter Lyndon Galvin, but squandered a three-run lead. Morris would come in to pitch the sixth and seventh in a tied 4-4 game before Luke Ryan chipped in two runs on a bloop single late for the equalizer to set up a game three back home in Armena. The Royals would not be denied, and came out guns a blazing with a 7-0 lead for Morris who had called his own number in the final. Things got dicey in the top of the fifth when the Milleteers would score five runs but Morris shut the door and the Royals would tack on one more for breathing room and their second championship in four years.
The team went 11-4-1 in the regular season and faced the Rosalind Athletics in the semi-finals. After a 3-2 loss in game one, the Royals won game two easily at home before a PBL classic game three ended with the Royals taking game three on the road 5-4. The bases were loaded with two outs when the game ended on a close strike three call.
In game one of the final against the Holden Blue Jays, the game was supposed to be played in Vegreville. Overnight rain pushed the opener to Holden where Ian Sherbaniuk pitched eight innings of shut out baseball. Doug Morris would arrive late in the game due to work, but pinch hit for what would turn out to be a game-winning 2-RBI double in a 2-0 win. Game two the Royals offence came out in full force and David Ritz pitched six innings for the 11-1 win that ended with a Zenan Sherbaniuk walk-off home run to mercy the Blue Jays in six innings.
Modern Day Armena Alumni
Played in the PBL regular season:
John “The Kid” Andreassen (2005)
Dave “Digger” Andreassen (2013-2014)
Clark “The Professor” Banack (1999-Present)
Jordan Bassett (2002-2003, 2005-2007)
Steven Bergstrom (2009)
Joel “Pumps” Boettger (1999-2007, 2009-2010, 2012-2013)
Ryan Borman (2013)
Tyler Bourne (2011)
Ken Braget (2001)
Josh Burnstad (1999-2001)
Jason “Buzz” Buzzell (1999-2005, 2009-2014)
Bob Charchun (2005)
Kyler Charchun (2014-2016, 2018)
Eric Cuthill (2000-2001)
Matt Danko (2005-2006)
Richard “Dupes/Rene” Dupre (2014, 2016)
Rene “The Swiss Assassin” Duriaux (2000)
Alex “The Electric” Eelhart (2002-2004)
Brian Ellert (2010-2011)
Kyle “Goose” Ellis (2008-2013, 2016-2017)
Ken Flint (2000)
Tom Falk (2010)
Ryan Falk (1999-2001)
Cody Fiala (2016)
Lyndon “LG” Galvin (2014-Present)
Jay Goudreau (2017)
Liam Gregor (2017-Present)
Noah Gregor (2017-Present)
Kris “Krash” G. (2008)
Brett “The Hit Man” Harke (1999-2001, 2004-2007, 2009)
Ryan “Millet”Harke (2001-2003)
Wes Harrison (2002-2007)
Darren Helgren (2001-2004)
Chad Hooke (2010-2011)
Jordan Hoover (2014-2016)
Colton Hovde (2015-2016)
Rick Jaret (2002)
Adam “AJ” Johnson (2006-2007, 2009, 2011-2015)
Kris Johnson (2007, 2010, 2013)
Zack Kempf (2011-2012)
Paul Kolida (2013)
Nolan Kruizenga (2017-Present)
Paul Kruizenga (2002-2005, 2017)
Kris “Krusher” Krushnerick (2006-2007)
Greg Kucy (2001)
Mark Kreamer (2007-2007)
Brendan Kudrowich (2012-2013, 2017-Present)
Ben “Duke” Lyseng (2008)
Josh “Flapjack” Lyseng (2008-2010)
Nick Mizera (2005)
Shaun Moore (1999)
Dave Neuman (2000)
Landon “Moptop” Miller (2011-Present)
Kevin Moneta (2006)
Doug “Big-Game” Morris (2014-Present)
Kellen Morris (2017-Present)
Tyler “T-Bone” Olafson (2000-2004, 2009)
Verlyn “Presidente” Olson (2001)
Hans Olson (1999, 2008)
Lee “Cakes” Palmer (2009)
Scott “Pistol” Peterson (2000-2007)
Brant Poyser (2006-2007)
Dean Prpick (2013, 2015-Present)
Sheldon Petryshen (2015-Present)
Jordan Riopel (2005, 2007, 2017)
Brian Rademacher (2010)
David Ritz (2013-Present)
Luke Ryan (2017-Present)
Mitch Schneider (2017)
Chad Samoisette (2011-2012, 2014)
Mike “Sampsquench” Sampson (1999, 2001, 2003-2005, 2008-2009)
Darryl Skaret (2001)
Dustin Solberg (2006-2007)
Troy Sharpe (2010-2011)
Tyrell Shepherd (2006-2007)
Ian Sherbaniuk (2010-Present)
Zenan Sherbaniuk (2012-Present)
Curtis Smith (2002)
John Spigott (2002-2004)
Cody Sroka (2008-2012)
Curt Stensrud (2002-2004)
Derek Stollery (2018-Present)
Karl Stollery (2008)
Raul “The Mexican” (2008)
Russ These (1999-2002)
Steve Thiessen (2007-2008, 2010)
Bryan Toles (2004-2007)
Cole Tomaszewski (2008, 2012-2016)
Devin Varga (2016-Present)
Mark Walker (2009-2011)
Tyler Warawa (2002-2003)
Kenton “Baby Pumps” White (2014)
Kjell Wickstrom (2006-2007)
Wes Wilson (2002-2007, 2010-2013)
Jon Wolyshin (1999-2000)
*Please inform the Royals of any players not on this list.
Armena Modern Day Historical PBL Stats 2018 inclusive
- First PBL point
- 7-7 tie vs Camrose, in Armena, May 1999
- First PBL playoff victory
- 6-4 win, July 17, 2001 vs Bardo at Bardo
- Franchise Regular Season Record
- Franchise Playoff Record
- Biggest win
- 47-7 vs Tofield at Tofield, July 11, 2006
- Biggest loss
- 26-0 vs Camrose Roadrunners at Armena, May 29, 2008
- Playoff appearances – 15
- 2000-2007, 2012-2016, 2018-2019
- Regular Season Titles – 6
- 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2014, 2018
- PBL Final Appearances – 12
- 2002-2007, 2012, 2015-2016, 2018-2019
- Championships (Opponent, Year) – 6
- The Brewers, 2002
- Camrose Roadrunners, 2003
- Camrose Colts, 2004
- Rosalind Athletics, 2015
- Leduc Milleteers, 2018
- Holden Blue Jays, 2019
Regular season and (playoff records) by season
- 1999: 4-9-1
- 2000: 7-7 (0-2)
- 2001: 7-7 (1-2)
- 2002: 10-5 (4-1)
- 2003: 9-3 (4-0)
- 2004: 12-3-1 (4-1)
- 2005: 10-6 (2-2)
- 2006: 8-4 (2-3)
- 2007: 9-3 (2-2)
- 2008: 1-14
- 2009: 5-10
- 2010: 2-13
- 2011: 2-12
- 2012: 7-8 (3-2)
- 2013: 9-5 (0-2)
- 2014: 9-5 (1-2)
- 2015: 10-4 (4-0)
- 2016: 9-5 (3-3)
- 2017: 3-11
- 2018: 11-3 (4-2)
- 2019: 11-4-1 (4-1)
- Total: 154-142-3 (38-25)