(WINDSOR, ON) – It is another trip around for Windsor Warlocks’ lacrosse player Zane Dalpe. For the second time in three seasons this young man will compete head-on with this country’s best at the Bantam-level.
Dalpe has signed with Team Ontario, an elite group of skilled players selected by the Ontario Lacrosse Association each year.
“[He’s a] naturally gifted athlete and has developed into a true leader. A true role model for his teammates,” praised coach Chris Derkatz. “As a young man, [Zane’s] very polite and courteous. [He’s] patient and encourages younger players to learn and develop. [He] raises the bar for compete level in practice and makes everyone on the floor better.”
Zane, 14, from Belle River, attends Lakeshore Discovery School and knows his education comes first.
“[My] education is so important. You can’t just rely on your athletics as you get older. The chances of you playing professional sports … is slim, but it is a goal you can have,” Dalpe explained.
The young Warlock got his start in sport as part of local hockey and soccer programs. But, when Zane’s father suggested lacrosse to him he jumped at the idea.
“I was around the age of 7,” reflected Dalpe. “My dad knew some people in the game.”
His father felt that, like many young hockey players who moved up the ranks, such as Adam Oates, Joel Nieuwendyk, John Tavares, and even Wayne Gretzky, that lacrosse would improve his son’s core skills.
“I’ve had the opportunity [to coach] Zane over the last five years,” said his hockey coach, Mark Cadotte. “In watching him adapt in all aspects of the game, both as a player and a young athlete, coming into his own and making his mark along the way, Zane’s ability to score in tight areas especially makes him an offensive threat anywhere around the goal, with little time and space needed. [He’s a] pleasure to work with and fun to watch.”
His play on the ice has come to the attention of local hockey officials and he will be playing up an age bracket during the 2016-17 season, as a member of the Sun County Panthers. Most notably, the last local player thought to have been moved up at this age was Aaron Ekblad, now a member of the Florida Panthers.
In the Summer, Zane’s heart is with the Warlocks.
“After [my] first year, I loved it and I couldn’t keep my stick down,” Dalpe said. “Lacrosse is awesome, it’s intense, I can’t wait after hockey season for summer. The guys are awesome, coaches are great, they are all a supportive, good group of guys. [We’re] a tight group and it’s fun. Just always fun to play for the Warlocks.”
One of Zane’s favourite moments as a Warlock involves his last year of peewee, in 2014, when the team qualified to play in the A-division with the top talent in the province. That same year he tried-out and made Team Ontario for the first time.
He and the Ontario squad travelled to British Columbia and brought home a gold medal.
“It’s one of the hardest things you can do,” opined Dalpe. “Every guy there can play the game. It’s intense from tryout one to the final camp. You have to bring your A-game [and] you can’t take any shifts off. Even the first year I went in peewee, the guys are big and they’re fast, and they’re all ahead of the game.”
In 22 games played this year, Zane has put together 59 goals and 22 assists, for an average of just under 4 points per game. Being a first line offensive player also gets him into the mix a bit, but he is not afraid to show his physicality, as he picks up just about one penalty a match.
Zane has aspirations of someday continuing his play, with his education, at a post-secondary institution; maybe even pro. In the meantime, Dalpe also sharpening his game with the Juiced Cherries field lacrosse club based in the Detroit area.
“It is different than the game we play over in Canada,” said Zane. “There is a lot of different skills you need to play that game. It’s a little more open, not as crazy … but it is a good skill game.”
The young Warlock finds inspiration for his game in his family.
“My parents are awesome,” stated Dalpe who, with his brothers, are all over the sports scene. “They are just all over the place with sports. They are great role models to have. They are just good people.”
Dalpe was eager to share some of his thoughts on developing younger players.
“You gotta pick up your stick. It is a hard sport to adapt to,” he said. “It is a fun game. You are going to love it, especially if you love that [physicality] in hockey. This game is perfect for you. You’ll love it after the first two weeks of playing.”
Zane’s journey with Team Ontario will lead him to Saskatoon, as he and the province-wide cast of teammates will meet provincial teams from across the country for the national bantam championship (13- and 14-year-olds). The tournament begins August 2.
Even with Nationals coming up, Dalpe’s journey with his Warlocks teammates is far from over. Last weekend, Windsor travelled to Whitby to compete in A-division qualifiers. They’re at it again during the weekend of the 23rd.
The provincial championships, if they qualify, will start July 31, also in Whitby, as part of the Ontario Lacrosse Festival.