Jake Warren says he wasn’t upset in losing the scoring race on the final weekend of Molson Challenge Cup play because he has something bigger on his plate.
Warren, a 23-year-old striker with Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders, finished runner-up to scoring champ Tyler Forsey of Feildians Ernst & Young.
In his sixth season with Holy Cross, Warren had led the scoring race for most of the season but Forsey, with a four-goal effort against St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians, jumped ahead of him to finish with 14 goals in 18 games, three more than Warren.
Losing the individual title is no big deal, according to Warren. Earning a bye to the final is what counts, he said. And, in the end, it’s all about winning a championship.
Holy Cross will play in the final against St. Lawrence 2:30 p.m. Sunday at King George V Park.
“Tyler is a great player and he scores a lot of goals. Going into the final weekend we were just trying to keep some team momentum going,”noted Warren. “I didn’t win the scoring title, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. You play to win championships and it’s not about the individual stuff.”
Warren, who notched 10 goals last season, said in terms of goal scoring it was perhaps his best season, but he notes he’s had good seasons in the past and doesn’t always rate personal success based on the number of times he puts the ball into the back of the net.
Despite his outstanding season in helping Holy Cross to first place and a bye to the final, Warren downplayed his contribution to the club.
“I’ve had a pretty good year and it ended up that I scored a few goals, but I just hope I keep playing well into this weekend.”
He also noted you can have a good game without scoring.
“You can play well, tackle hard, and make plays. It’s not just about scoring goals. It’s about playing well and helping out your teammates.”
Warren said other Holy Cross players picked up the scoring slack in any case after Forsey’s departure.
Notwithstanding the absence of Forsey’s 31 goals from last season, the Crusaders still managed to lead the league in team scoring with 38 goals.
Holy Cross coach Jake Stanford said, if anything, Warren is a better playmaker than scorer.
“I’d say he’s been in on 70 to 80 percent of our goals this season,” Stanford noted.“He’s the best player in the league in my opinion and everybody knows how valuable he is to Holy Cross.”
Stanford said Warren has perhaps been underrated by some, “but he’s really come on the last few years.”
He also called Warren one of the most dedicated players said he’s ever coached.
The veteran mentor said he has coached Warren since he was at the minor level and added, “I can count on one hand the number of practices sessions he’s missed in that time.
“He’s all about the team. He wants Holy Cross to win. That’s his most important goal,” Stanford said.
Warren, meanwhile, didn’t deny there is some extra incentive this season after the favourites were knocked out of last year’s semifinals by Feildians at Centennial Field in St. Lawrence.
“Going into every season you want to hoist that championship trophy at the end of the year. Looking back on last year, we didn’t reach our goal and that was tough.
“But,” he added, “we came into this year hoping to come back. “We always want to play up to our potential.
“We trained really and looked to get back to where we know we can be. Now we hope to win it all come Sunday.”
Warren said Thursday night it didn’t matter who his team faced in the final. He said he had respect for both semifinalists.
“We’ll be ready to play whichever team makes it to the final. We’ll play our game and see what happens from there.”