Monday, February 28, 2011

Commissioner speaks about Roughnecks situation

The job of a professional sports commissioner can be sometimes like a fireman's, trying to keep the flames from spreading out of control. George Daniel, the commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, has a good-sized blaze on his hands right now.
The Calgary Roughnecks are in danger of folding in the middle of the current season. Owner Brad Banister says the team has enough money to play next week in Philadelphia, but can't go on past that. The franchise needs $500,000 to finish the season.
"We're certainly doing our due diligence and trying to understand everything about the situation, trying to understand what role we can play in coming up with a remedy and a solution," Daniel said. "We're working very hard. We hope we can find a solution over the next week to 10 days, to stabilize the franchise. That's our goal. I'm optimistic that we can come up with something."
Time is the major issue with the Roughnecks. A midseason folding of a franchise in a sports league causes all sorts of problems, including scheduling. Daniel agreed that losing a franchise in a 10-team league right now would be a nightmare.
"We are under a tight deadline to get things stabilized," he said. "Whether we can find a long-term solution that quickly is another story. The key thing is — what can we do to stabilize the situation to make sure that the games are going to go on? We're working very hard on that. I'm optimistic that there's a solution out there. ... We have to exhaust all possibilities."
That's not the only problem for Daniel and the NLL — only the most immediate one. For example, Washington, the league's defending champion, is averaging fewer than 4,000 fans per game. Rochester's attendance has dropped noticeably this year, in part because the Knighthawks are playing five games in a row at home.
 To read the rest of the story by Budd Bailey from the Buffalo News click here

NLL All Star Game highlights

Goalies shelled at NLL All Star Game

For awhile there, it looked like Sunday’s NLL all-star game was going to be all Calgary Roughnecks.
Riggers transition player Jeff Shattler opened the scoring, and Roughnecks captain and teammate Andrew McBride made it 2-0 for the West a couple minutes later.
The lead didn’t hold up, however, as the East ran away with a 30-26 victory at the Turning Stone Casino & Events Center in Verona, N.Y.
“There was a lot of talent out there,” Shattler said of the all-offence-all-the-time tilt.
“I felt bad for the goalies. They had a lot of shots and seemed to be the butt-end of the joke.
“They were just getting lit up. It can’t be good for the confidence, but they were good sports.”
Shattler’s sympathy only went so far, though. He didn’t feel so bad for the shellshocked ’tenders after his goal.
“No, not at all.”
The 56 combined goals was a result of the NLL’s top players being turned loose.
“We were trying to put on a show for the fans,” Shattler said.
Fellow Roughnecks star Scott Ranger scored a hat-trick and added three assists in the loss.
The West was led by Washington Stealth forward Luke Wiles’ six-goal, 10-point effort.
Rochester Knighthawks forward Shawn Evans took home the MVP award after scoring four goals and a dozen points.

- story by Scott Fisher, Calgary Sun

Eckensviller spends time with the Mann Cup

There are unsung heroes on every championship team.
On a team of mostly sung heroes, such as the Peterborough Lakers, who won the 2010 Mann Cup national lacrosse championship with a star-studded cast of players, Pickering's Derek Eckensviller was proud to play a small part.
He was recently rewarded for his efforts as the Major Series Lacrosse team's head athletic trainer by getting his turn with the Mann Cup, lacrosse's holy grail that dates back to the start of the 20th century and is valued at $25,000.
It's not the first time Eckensviller has experienced the thrill of winning it all, but it's been quite awhile now. Eckensviller, 40, was also with the Brooklin Redmen when they captured the big prize back in 2000.
"When we won in Brooklin in 2000 it was special, winning at home," Eckensviller recalled. "It was special to be a part of, especially with a lot of local players, and at that time we were really underdogs. We had young talent.
"This one was special because we were expected to win from the start," he said of a Lakers team that featured the likes of John Grant Jr., John Tavares and brothers Shawn and Scott Evans. "I was overwhelmed and proud that they selected me."
To read the rest of the story by Brian McNair of click here

Simon Fraser set to go

Despite an appearance in last year's MCLA semifinals, the loss of six players to graduation, including three All-Americans, and an additional seven players not returning this season, makes it easy to write the Clan off as young and inexperienced heading into 2011. Add to that a roster of only 19 players, 14 of which are underclassmen and themes of rebuilding can only come to mind. 
Talk to SFU co-head coaches Jeff Cathrea and Brent Hoskins, however, and a different pursuit of reloading quickly overshadows any misconceptions of this season being focused solely on development.
"We can't deny the fact that we are young and have traditionally low numbers again this year, but coming out of what has been a very positive off-season, we have the feeling that our youthfulness has only made us hungrier in our preparation and more determined to maintain our spot amongst the MCLA's elite," Hoskins said.
"With such a small roster, there is a much greater sense of accountability that the guys have with each other," Cathrea added, when talking about the Clan's low numbers. "We feel that we still have the athletes capable of making another run again this season. Everyone is expected to contribute to that success and, with that, no one wants to let the team down, so guys come to practice looking to push each other every day."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Urban gives full support to provincial rivals

Bruce Urban fully expects his Edmonton Rush to beat the Calgary Roughnecks March 19 at the Saddledome, and not by default.
The Rush owner also can envision a Battle of Alberta in the 2011 National Lacrosse League playoffs.
Roughnecks owner Brad Banister may be facing a cash-crunch and living game-to-game, but Urban has been told unequivocally the Calgary franchise will complete the current campaign.
“I can assure you the Calgary Roughnecks will finish the season in Calgary,” Urban said. “That’s the one thing I can say. The league will be involved to make sure this team doesn’t stop at any point through the season.
“I believe they will be in Calgary for the next 20 years. It’s too good of a sport not to.”
Urban also believes the next owner of the Roughnecks is close at hand and ready to step in when the time is right.
Although he said he has no insider knowledge of the dealings, Urban expects the Calgary Flames will make another push to take over the franchise.
“The reality is it’s a great opportunity for someone else to get involved,” Urban said. “I would be very, very surprised if it was not something the Calgary Flames were interested in.
“It fits what they’ve already got. They are the landlord of the building. It’s eight dates that with the push of the Flames behind it, the crowds (will) absolutely dwarf 99% of the Hitmen games.
“With a push from the Flames, they would have 14,000 in the building for games.”
Calling Urban ‘overwhelming supportive,’ Roughnecks owner Brad Banister said he hasn’t asked the Rush owner for financial assistance despite pleading with local corporate support this week to save the team.
 To read the rest of the story by Ian Busby of the Calgary Sun click here

Crowley's street cred grows south of the border

We all know about Kevin Crowley but it's nice the New York Times does too.
As the final minute wound down last May, Kevin Crowley was part of the sea of Stony Brook red, a desperate wave pushing for the tying goal on its home turf against Virginia. A ticket to the NCAA  men’s lacrosse semifinals hung on the outcome.
The standing-room-only crowd of 10,024 at LaValle Stadium saw Crowley help get the ball upfield. But then Jordan McBride’s shot was stopped. The top-seeded Cavaliers, one of the marquee names in men’s lacrosse, escaped with a 10-9 victory. Crowley, the Enners Award winner as the nation’s outstanding Division I player, soon felt his disappointment dissolve into pride when he considered how far the Seawolves had come.
Now he is back for his senior season. The rest of the starting midfield returns, too. So does the starting attack. There is a buzz about Stoney Brook, which is ranked fifth in the coaches’ poll, the best in program history, after its first trip to the quarterfinals. So Crowley clearly has thoughts about taking the next steps — making the semifinals and claiming the title — in a journey that starts at home Saturday against Virginia, which is ranked No. 1.
“It’s my last year and I always believe in dreaming big,” Crowley said. “It’s going to come down to the work ethic you put in. I think creating that family atmosphere is really important. I don’t believe there’s a limit to how far we can go if we bring it all together by the end of the year.”
 To read the rest of the story click here

The Chris Levis evolution

Looking back at statistics from a year ago, there was a significant difference between the first half of goaltender Chris Levis' season and the second half. The netminder, who appeared in 12 total games in 2010, recorded a paltry .704 save percentage in his first five appearances of the year. Then, something changed. Following a season-worst .615 save% (eight saves and five goals-against on 13 shots) against the Edmonton Rush on March 13, Levis' game turn a turn for the better.
Two weeks after the game against Edmonton, the Windsor, Ontario native posted a season-best .833 save% against the Washington Stealth. In his final seven games of the season (including the Washington game), Levis posted a .792 save%, an improvement of saving nearly one of out of every ten shots he faced compared to his first five games played. This year, Levis has picked up where he left off. His .781 save%, tops in the West Division, earned him his first All-Star team nomination.
When asked what changes he made midway through the season last year, Levis said that it was all about his approach.
"I didn't do anything in particular to change my game other than changing my pregame ritual a bit. I think going into the second half of last year we, as a defensive unit, decided to incorporate some different rules about how 
we were going to approach each game and I think that carried through with regards to our goals-against."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WLA schedule released

While lacrosse fans in Canada are focused on the melodrama in Calgary, the Western Lacrosse League has released its 2011 schedule.
The Burnaby Lakers will get to break in its new wood floor to open the season on May 13 when they host Nanaimo.
The rest of the league will then wait a week to get started when Victoria hosts Langley, and Burnaby hosts Coquitlam on May 20. Two days later, Nanaimo hosts New Westminster and Langley goes to Maple Ridge.
To see the rest of the WLA schedule click here

Roughnecks will play next game

The National Lacrosse League has guaranteed the Calgary Roughnecks will play at least one more regular-season game.
League spokesperson Doug Fritts confirmed Thursday afternoon the cash-strapped Roughnecks will indeed make their next road trip.
“The Calgary Roughnecks will be in Philadelphia to play on March 5, and the Roughnecks players will be paid for the All-Star game,” said the league statement.
“The league remains in the process of gathering all relevant information relating to the Calgary Roughnecks situation and cannot offer any further comment at this time.”
To read the rest of the story by Ian Busby of the Calgary Sun, please click here

Campbell River lacrosse box costs soar

Campbell River’s minor lacrosse association has built “a first class” lacrosse box complete with a score clock and Internet camera, but is now struggling to pay the bills.
The new lacrosse box at Robron Park was built for $671,532 but the association is short $97,356.
“I find myself in the unenviable position to ask the city for financial assistance,” said Kevin Mills of the Campbell River Minor Lacrosse Association. “We built this lacrosse box, we built it first class, unfortunately we didn’t have enough money to finish off paying the contractor.”
Mills said there have been a number of circumstances which resulted in higher costs. The city already contributed $213,285, the federal government funded $226,254 of the project through its Recreation Infrastructure Fund and the community and the association together raised $134,637.
With those three funding sources combined it was expected to be enough.
To read the rest of the story by  Kristen Douglas of the Campbell River Mirror click here

NLL to honour Iroquois Nationals at halftime

The NLL will honour the Iroquois National indoor lacrosse team as part of its all star festivities.
At halftime, the Iroquois Nationalswill be honoured  for their defence of Native American Sovereignty this past summer in an event that drew attention and admiration from around the world.
This past July, the 2010 Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team comprised of 23 Native American premiere athletes was not allowed to travel to the Lacrosse World Championships using their Native American Haudenosaunee Passports.
Even though the Iroquois Nationals, the national sports team of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was denied competition, they won however without ever playing by demonstrating to the world the continuing relevance of indigenous sovereignty in the 21st century. The Oneida Nation and the NLL will salute the Iroquois Nationals, who modeled this enduring struggle with dignity and the understanding that they were standing up for something to benefit seven generations into the future, as true ambassadors of the living Native American Iroquois spirit.
"We are pleased to be able to honor the Iroqouis Nationals team for the great character they displayed during an extremely difficult situation this past summer." NLL commissioner George Daniel said. "We are proud to have them as part of our All-Star Game this weekend".
Several players and coaches from the Iroquois Nationals team will be recognized in the ceremony. Four of the NLL All-Star players are also members of the Nationals team: Brett Bucktooth (Buffalo Bandits), Cody Jamieson & Sid Smith (Rochester Knighthawks) and Jeff Shattler (Calgary Roughnecks).

Mimico Minor Lacrosse promo

I thought this was worth a post. Mimico Minor Lacrosse did a great job with this video. In today's age of video cameras and great free editing equipment, there's no better way to create a buzz for your organization than this.
Keep up the great work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Watson named NLL Player of the Week

Toronto Rock Goaltender Bob Watson is the National Lacrosse League's Overall Player of the Week for the games played on February 18th, 19th, and 20th, Week #7 of the 2011 regular season.
Watson continued his defensive dominance this past weekend with two stellar performances. On Friday night, he allowed only 5 goals while making 32 saves in a 10-5 win over the Knighthawks.He didn't miss a beat heading into Saturday's game, an eventual 13-6 win over Rochester. He only allowed 5 goals, making 35 saves in just under 53 minutes of action. Watson is currently leading all goalies in the major defensive categories of goals against average, save percentage, and wins.
Watson's teammate, Garrett Billings, has been named Offensive Player of the Week. He posted consistent numbers in both Rock games over the weekend. On Friday, he scored 3 goals and added 1 assists while picking up 6 loose balls. On Saturday, he connected for another 3 goals and 2 assists along with 5 loose balls.
Jeff Moleski of the Washington Stealth was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Week. He helped the Stealth coast to a 20-7 victory over Colorado by scoring 3 goals and picking up 4 loose balls, with a forced turnover.
The Transition Player of the Week honors go to Ryan Hotaling of the Boston Blazers. In a 14-11 victory over Minnesota, Hotaling scooped up 23 loose balls and went 64% on faceoffs (18 for 28).
Curtis Dickson of the Calgary Roughnecks won the Rookie of the Week award. He helped the first place Roughnecks bet Division rival, Edmonton Rush, 12-11. He netted 3 goals and served up 2 assists in the winning effort.

Flames have offered to buy Roughnecks

Brad Banister stood up and begged for corporate support Wednesday, but his team’s saviour seems to be just waiting in the wings.
When the Calgary Roughnecks owner gathered local media to his offices, he said he didn’t want to discuss the Calgary Flames and the possibility of them rescuing the National Lacrosse League franchise from its current financial problems by buying them.
However, sources have told the Sun that the Flames have made at least two offers to buy the Riggers in the past, including one recently.
An offer of about $2 million four or so years ago was apparently rejected, possibly because it included a provision that Banister — who also serves as president and general manager of the club — would no longer be involved with the Roughnecks following the sale.
A more recent offer of about $1.7 million — apparently tabled in the last few weeks — was reportedly rejected by Banister, as well, because the price was too low and he also would not stay involved with the team.
Banister, who officially put the team for sale prior to the start of the season, stood before the media Wednesday and said his club is in dire straits, pleading for an investor or some local companies to buy rink board or floor advertising and help him keep the team afloat.
Flames president Ken King has refused to talk specifics about any interest in buying the Roughnecks. When asked Wednesday about whether he has rejected two offers from the Flames, Banister did not confirm or deny it, instead declining to talk about the specifics of any dealings with the NHlL club he leases floor time from at the Saddledome, fearing he might upset the apple cart.
“I can’t talk about it,” Banister said. “I’m in discussions with them … They need to know what’s going on because they have dates (at the Saddledome).
“This whole thing is Calgary Roughnecks based and not Calgary Flames.”
 To read the rest of the story by Ian Busby of the Calgary Sun click here

Tavares, Grant Jr. named All-Star Game captains

The National Lacrosse League announced the team captains for the 2011 All-Star Game, presented by the Oneida Indian Nation.
The All-Star Game takes place on Sunday at the Event Center at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY.
John Tavares will serve as captain of the East All-Stars. The Buffalo Bandits forward and the league's all-time leading scorer will be joined by East assistant captains Colin Doyle (Toronto Rock) and Pat McCready (Rochester Knighthawks).
John Grant Jr. will serve as captain of the West All-Stars. The Colorado Mammoth forward is suiting up in a West uniform for the first time after having represented the East in his previous six All-Star appearances.  West assistant captains are Lewis Ratcliff (Washington Stealth) and Andrew McBride (Calgary Roughnecks).
The league also announced that Boston Blazers goaltender Anthony Cosmo has been added to the East roster.  The Blazers' netminder will be making his fifth career All-Star appearance and will split time with starting goaltender Brandon Miller of the Philadelphia Wings.  Cosmo takes the place of Rock goaltender Bob Watson.

Quest to set the record straight leads to thesis on history of lacrosse

I thought this was an interesting read.
When local writer Barbara Adamski pitched an idea for a story about the Salmonbellies and the city's passionate box lacrosse scene to The Walrus magazine a few years ago, she didn't expect it would lead to pursuing a Master's degree on the history of the sport.
The self-described "lacrosse mom," who enjoys the rough-and-tumble game from the safety of the stands rather than from on the floor, said she made the decision after coming across a veritable mountain of misinformation about one of Canada's official national sports while researching the article.
Take, for example, the common misconception that lacrosse is the official national sport instead of hockey, a quirk of Canadian history that can be traced to a Montreal dentist and lacrosse enthusiast named William George Beers, who apparently wanted this to be the case so badly it eventually became accepted as fact.
Beers wrote an early book about the game entitled Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada, published shortly after Confederation, and it turns out that most Canadians were willing to simply take his word on it.
"Beers was a huge advocate for the game and really wanted it to be the national sport," said Adamski. "He was saying it was the official national sport, but that was never on the record. So there's a whole controversy about that. It only became the official summer sport after somebody was researching it and realized 'hey, it's not even on the books.'"
In fact, it was only in 1994 that Kamloops MP Nelson Riis introduced a private member's bill nominating the more obvious and widely embraced candidate - hockey - to be the national sport that the issue even came up in Parliament. A compromise was eventually reached by naming hockey the official winter sport and lacrosse the summer counterpart, even though box (indoor) lacrosse has largely usurped field lacrosse in popularity.
Adamski eventually found so many "all over the map" discrepancies about the game that she turned her research into a Master of Arts thesis in Integrated Studies, which, among other things, also debunked the widely accepted story of how the game got its name.
To read the rest of the story by Andrew Fleming of he Royal City Record click here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wilson named Elora Mohawks head coach

Rick Wilson has been named the new head coach of the Elora Mohawks, and he's already looking forward to the challenges that come with that position.
For Wilson, it's a slight change of direction follow two years as general manager of the KW Braves junior 'A' club, but it's one he feels is right for him.
"I was going to take the summer off, but this opportunity to get back into coaching came up and I didn't want to turn it down," he said. "I love the game and being around it. The kids are sponges for knowledge, I think I can help them learn about the game even more. It just gets in your blood."
WIth Dean George stepping down after two successful seasons, Wilson knows his hands will be full in filling those shoes. It's an accepted fact that comes with the job - when you coach the Elora Mohawks, excellence is expected.
"I bring a lot of knowledge and experience to this job, having been around lacrosse for most of my life," he said. "I've got big shoes to fill with Dean leaving, but I don't feel any extra pressure. I know the team's history and I'm confident in my abilities. Everything is how you perceive it - I want to play 'Run & Gun', pushing the ball up the floor relentlessly against our opponents."
Without having taken an extended look at his returning roster, Wilson said he'll work with newly named GM Brad Hutchison to make sure the 'Hawks remain competitive. Hutchison said WIlson made the most sense to fill the Elora job when his experience was factored together with his ideas.
"Going through this process, Rick's experience in playing the game and coaching at the pro, senior and junior levels was a big factor," he said. "It turned out to be an easy choice for us. When we were interviewing candidates, we talked with them about a lot of things - including the pressure that comes with this job. Rick's aware of all that, and given his experience we didn't think it would be a problem for him to handle it."

To read the rest of the story by Matt Harris of the Fergus-Elora News Express click here

The Roughnecks biggest battle - staying alive

Below is the press release sent out by Roughnecks majority owner and president Brad Banister

Roughnecks face toughest opponent to date.
Life is full of peaks and valleys. Today I am in the deepest of valleys with little hope of getting out. It is with sadness and desperation that I have to write this letter.
The Roughnecks sit on top of the West division again after the win in Edmonton this weekend. I had to do something that I have feared doing for the last ten years. I had to explain to my team that pay cheques were going to be late. The look in my eyes I can only imagine was that of a beaten dog, perhaps the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I believe I had finally given up. To walk around the dressing room and inflict that kind of burden on a young team before a divisional rival such as Edmonton was the most embarrassing and humbling thing I have ever done.
The next day, Sunday February 20th the Roughnecks hit the floor and beat a very good team which went down to the wire again. They never gave up and never once quit. It is for that reason among many that I write this desperate letter. I am not ready to quit either.
Last year, the current leaders of the National Lacrosse League’s Western Division, visited scores of schools in southern Alberta. More than 20,000 children have benefitted from lessons given by some of the best lacrosse players on the planet. We believe in this program so much, that captain Andrew McBride heads it up.
To read the rest of the press release by Roughnecks owner/ general manager Brad Banister please click here

Connor Martin - The celebration generation

Alright, after reading a great post by The Laxist and some great banter from a gamut of lacrosse fans and media folk about Connor Martin's celebration this weekend, I thought I'd chime in.
Like Andrew McKay, The Laxist, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with the emotion Martin showed. To be quite frank, seeing a celebration like that is great to see on a number of levels.
Lets face it, this is the NLL's 25th anniversary and it's still trying to find an identity with the average Joe sports fan.
Yes, there's a rabid and very dedicated fan base that is in tune with the traditional and spiritual aspects lacrosse has to offer. I understand that and appreciate it, so I get why people say a celebration like Martin's is not wanted in a great sport like lacrosse.
But this is 2011. It's time to merge the old school with the new.
For as long as I can remember, lacrosse players have always been those humble, quiet, blue-collar professional athletes, revered in their respective communities.
That hasn't and will never change.
But just as there's been a shift in personality among newer generations coming into the work world, the same trend has occurred in professional sports. While the boomers are straight-laced, many wearing suits to their place of work, we're a generation that expresses ourselves through how we dress and act in a non-traditional sense. And yes, Martin, like a Chad Johnson in the NFL, or  Canada's John Axford has with his newly found MLB following, is a reflection of the new generation.
Is his celebration, YouTube videos and alter ego Con Bro Chill a bad thing?
Hell no.
Like everything else, there's a delicate balance. While lacrosse can be sold to many with its tradition and spirituality, it needs to embrace some change and allow its players to be personalities so average Joe sports fan will come to the arena. To be quite honest, it's already happening through Twitter as written by McKay already. Traditionalists may not like it but if they want their sport to be more mainstream, they have to give a little to get a bit more.
As for the celebration in question Toronto Rock hostess with the mostess Shannon Kelly tweeted about how she did not like Martin's showmanship.

"@ he shouldn't have done it. Fist pump, a chest bump, suuuuure, I bet he's excited! But that just puts a sour taste in my mouth."

Again, there's a delicate balance between sheer excitement and being an all out showboat.
But let's face it, Martin likes to break it down on the dance floor, as you can tell from the above YouTube video link and it's something he always wanted to do.

"  very pre meditated. Been a dream of mine for years! RT @: @ ask him. wondering if the jump was premeditated or showboating"

To be quite honest, I'd rather see excitement expressed in this way, opposed to circus acts like this soccer team - please click here.
So to conclude this long-winded rant, I encourage Martin and other lacrosse players to keep bringing their emotion and bravado to the rink. We want to see your personalities come out on and off the playing surface so we can further sell this great sport.

- Darryl Smart

Calgary lacrosse community resurrect land lease fight

After being benched for two seasons, members of Calgary’s lacrosse community have resurrected their fight to score a land lease from the city.
In the summer of 2009, The Calgary Winter Lacrosse League was forced to stop using the Legacy Centre at 2834 Falaise Ave. S.W., after its lease there was not renewed.
That put nearly 7,000 athletes, including lacrosse and floor hockey players, out of a regular space for practices and games.
“That left everybody kind of homeless; the entire league disintegrated,” said Kelly Feser, who sits on the league’s board and is also a coach with a teenage son who plays lacrosse.
Frustrated with having to take two winter seasons off, lacrosse players, coaches and supporters are lobbying the city for a leasable lot six to 10 acres large, where they can build a $4-million facility with four arenas.
“From 9 a.m. to midnight every day it would be used,” said Feser, adding the advocates — some of whom belong to a Facebook group called Lacrosse Army — can’t apply for grants or secure funding without a land commitment.
However, the urgency is great as a facility would need to be built this summer so players won’t miss a third indoor season beginning in the fall.
Brian Couronne, another board member and father to a lacrosse player, said demand was already outweighing supply at the group’s old facility, which only offered one space that wasn’t even the proper size.
“When we were at the Legacy Centre, we were so successful we were turning groups down,” he said.
“That was a sign back then that there was a crisis of dry floor pads.”
 To read the rest of the story by Jenna McMurray of the Calgary Sun, please click here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thunder buck trend and select a goalie in first round

The Langley Thunder added a little bit of everything during the WLA junior draft, even making the bold move of selecting a goaltender in the first round.
Brodie MacDonald was taken second overall in the Western Lacrosse Association’s annual draft, held in Burnaby.
Thunder general manager Gerry Van Beek said it has been years since a goalie went in the first round.
The earlier than normal selection of a netminder was just because of the way the Thunder brain trust thought the draft was shaping up, Van Beek said.
MacDonald, a rookie in the National Lacrosse League with the Philadelphia Wings, stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 260 pounds, so he should cover much of the net.
As for the rest of the draft, Langley added a little bit of everything.
To read the rest of the story by Gary Ahuja of the Langley Times, please click here

Bob Watson picks up 100th career NLL win

Mac Allen vs Shayne Bennett halftime fight

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NLL in London???

Another week has gone by and more news about the Rochester Knighthawks attendance problems get louder.
On Sunday, Bob Matthews of the Rochester Democrat Chronicle wrote an interseting column about the future of the Khighthaawks and Rochester Americans, who are also owned by Six Nations businessman Curt Styres.
To read that piece, click here
Prior to reading Matthews' piece, rumours of Styres moving the team to Ontario, namely Hamilton, has run rampant.
To some extent, it makes sense.
Attendance with both teams in Rochester are at all-time lows, and Six Nations - where the Knighthawks practice during the week, is home to many of the team's stars and is about 30 minutes away. Styres' Major League Lacrosse team - the Hamilton Nationals - has just made the move down the QEW from Toronto.
Like I said, it sort of makes sense but not fully.
The one factor in this equation that doesn't fit is the Amerks. Hamilton already has an American Hockey League team - the Bulldogs - and the Toronto Marlies are less than an hour away.
While Hamilton would seem like a good fit out of convenience, Styres best bet would be in London.
Only an hour and a half away from Six Nations, the city of London is always looking to boost its portfolio. It's a successful large city and they have an arena John Labbatt Centre, which is home to the London Knights.
This arena would be the perfect home for the Knighthawks and Amerks.
With semi-pro soccer and football in the city, there's a real thirst in southern Ontario for professional sports and Styres' two teams could be the perfect remedy for that.
With several junior clubs and minor lacrosse associations within an hour to hour and a half away, there would be an instant fan base. It would not only be London's team, it could be sold as a regional team, much like the Knights are.

- Darryl Smart

Former ballboy suits up in Roughnecks win

Joe Vetere expected to spend his Sunday afternoon desperately trying to stay warm in Calgary.
Instead, he will be trying to keep himself calm in Edmonton.
The Calgary Roughnecks made a roster juggle prior to its win over the Edmonton Rush Sunday, and they made a dream come true in the process.
Vetere has pictured this moment since he was the Riggers ballboy during the inaugural season of the team, some 10 years ago, and he’s nervous as all heck.
To make the trip, Vetere had to give his Heritage Classic tickets to his uncle, but it was hardly a tough decision.
“I have a way better excuse not to be there than just because it’s too cold,” said the 23-year-old right-handed forward, who has spent three seasons on the Riggers practice roster.
“To finally be in the lineup and playing is a dream come true. It’s an honour to play for this organization.”
In order to get Vetere into the lineup, Roughnecks coach Dave Pym is making a shuffle.
Rookie forwards Brandon Ivey and Derek Hopcroft are out, as is Daryl Veltman, the lefty who was a big part of the Josh Sanderson trade with the Boston Blazers.
To read the rest of the story click here

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bob Watson: The Rookie

Last summer, after the sting of losing the National Lacrosse League championship game had eased, Bob Watson was thinking of calling it quits.
Little wonder. After 14 seasons, the Toronto Rock goaltender had accomplished it all in the game. He won five titles in seven years, became the league’s all-time winningest goalie and, earlier in 2010, realized his personal goal of playing competitively until the age of 40.
Add to those hall of fame credentials the fact that in July Watson became a Waterloo Region Police officer, a new high-pressure career with lots of shift work, it appeared the right time to hang up his mask.
But in November, as training camp loomed, Watson realized he wanted to come back for more. After talking it over with his wife, Nicole, and getting assurances from both the force and the team that the two careers could co-exist, he signed on for one final season.
“I wanted to make sure I was coming back for the right reasons,” says Watson, who will turn 41 near the end of the regular season. “I’m back because I love competing and I want to win.”
It shows. As the 2011 season reaches the midway mark this weekend, Watson is one of the key reasons the Rock (5-2) lead the league. His 5-1 record is tops among goalies, as is his .810 save percentage. He has held opponents to fewer than 10 goals in five of his seven starts.
Watson was named the NLL’s player of the month for January. Later in February, he will make his fourth trip to the NLL all-star game.
To read the rest of the story by Daniel Girard of the Toronto Star please click here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Redmen hope draft picks play in Brooklin this summer

The Brooklin Redmen just got a whole lot better, on paper at least, following Sunday's Major Series Lacrosse draft.
Unfortunately, that hasn't always translated to marked improvements on the floor, as the team has had difficulty the past few years luring the players they own to play here.
Wayne Colley, the team's head coach and general manager, was nevertheless pleased with the junior graduates he was able to scoop up Sunday, led by Ontario scoring leader Kiel Matisz with the first overall pick.
Colley contacted Matisz both before and after the draft, and has been assured by the six-foot-five Stoney Creek resident that he would indeed be reporting to the team.
"I talked to him right after the draft and he's pumped to be here," said Colley. "He's excited that he's going to be coming to Brooklin to play. That tells you a lot about him."
Matisz, who plays field lacrosse with current Redmen players Kyle Buchanan and Kevin Brownell at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, was named the OLA Junior A most valuable player after leading the league with 59-49-108 scoring stats in 22 games for Burlington last season.
Thanks to a number of trades the past few years, Colley had five of the first eight picks in the draft, including the second overall choice, which he spent on Adam Jones.
Jones is from Owen Sound and played only in the playoffs for the Orangeville Northmen last season, where he piled up 37-33-70 stats in 18 games, including a tournament-best 26 points in the Minto Cup tournament.
To read the rest of the story by Brian McNair from click here

Intermediate B growing in BC interior

It may only be February, and the ice may still be in at area arenas, but that hasn’t stopped more than a few local people’s thoughts from turning to lacrosse, Canada’s national summer sport.
Following up on the incredible success of the Nicola Valley Thunder minor lacrosse program over the past few seasons, a move is underway to bring the Intermediate B level of the fast-paced sport to Merritt.
Intermediate lacrosse is specifically for youth aged 16-18. Not only does it provide an opportunity for graduating midget players to continue playing the game, but it also acts as a bridge between minor and junior lacrosse.
Kelly Bartch, one of the main supporters of bringing Intermediate lacrosse into the Nicola Valley, states that he has been in extensive contact with the British Columbia Lacrosse Association, the provincial governing body of the sport, and they have been incredibly supportive.
“They’re very excited for us,” says Bartch, “and highly recommend the Intermediate B level.”
To read the rest of the story by Ian Webster of the Merritt Herald, please click here

Helmets in women's lacrosse

I realize this is an American story, but it does pretain with Canadian women's lacrosse. It's a highly publicized issue in the States and something you don't really see in the Canadian media so I thought it was worth a mention.
Camille Richardson has heard all the arguments, read all the comments, and sees the logic. But as a freshman midfielder for the Columbia women's lacrosse team who is fully aware of the dangers of head trauma, Richardson makes one thing clear: She has no interest in wearing a helmet, as the men must.
“Wearing a helmet,” Richardson said, “would just bring us closer to football and hockey.”
Although some safety advocates call for head protection in women’s lacrosse, almost everyone involved in the sport has said that its current ban on helmets for everyone but goaltenders is actually the safest approach. Hockey safety experts question if helmets foster more physical play. Football looks back and wonders whether big face masks encouraged a recklessness that can lead to long-term brain damage.
Now at its own crossroad, women’s lacrosse — with 250,000 playing nationwide — wants to take the road less battered. And so begins the second stage of sports’ continuing parry with head injuries — in which the best protection, many experts insist, is no protection at all.
“It’s hard to absolutely prove, but what we’ve seen is that behavior can change when athletes feel more protected, especially when it comes to the head and helmets,” said Dr. Margot Putukian, Princeton’s director of athletic medicine services and chairwoman of the U.S. Lacrosse safety committee. “They tend to put their bodies and heads in danger that they wouldn’t without the protection. And they aren’t as protected as they might think.”
Although boys’ lacrosse rules mandate helmets and face masks at all age levels, girls’ lacrosse, whose season at many schools begins this month, is drastically different. Amy Bokker, Stanford’s women’s coach, only half-jokingly says that it shouldn’t be called lacrosse at all.
To read the full story by Alan Schwartz of the New York Times, please click here

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cordingley and Hasen familiar foes

When the Toronto Rock and the Rochester Knighthawks clash in a crucial pair of National Lacrosse League games this weekend, there will be nothing either head coach can do to surprise the other.
Troy Cordingley and Mike Hasen know each other inside out. They’ve played and coached with and against each other, they’ve celebrated winning the biggest championships in the sport together and they recently became business partners.
“We’re real good friends but when it’s game time we’re enemies,” says Cordingley.
The teams go at it Friday in Toronto and Saturday in Rochester.
“Who the opposing coach is, that’s not really a thought I have because I’ll be focused on what I need to do on our bench,” says Hasen. “But I know my wife likes watching those games because she thinks it’s quite comical.”
Cordingley is 43 and Hasen is 38, so Cordingley was a level or two ahead of Hasen when they played minor lacrosse in Brampton, Ont. They first became teammates when Cordingley, a forward, was playing for the Excelsiors senior team in the OLA summer league and Hasen, a defenceman, moved up in 1994.
Cordingley had started playing NLL winter ball for Buffalo in 1993 and the two became teammates there as well beginning in 1996 when the Bandits won the championship.
Back in the summer league, Cordingley jumped to the Coquitlam Adanacs and lost to Hasen and the Excelsiors in the 1998 Mann Cup final.
To read the rest of the story Neil Stevens wrote for the Canadian Press, click here

Tavares nets NLL Player of the Week honours

Buffalo Bandits forward John Tavares is the National Lacrosse League's Overall Player of the Week, as well as being named Offensive Player of the Week for the games played on February 11th and 12th, Week 6 of the 2011 regular season.
Tavares led an offensive explosion by the Bandits this weekend in their 16-7 road win over the Philadelphia Wings. He posted a team high 9 points with 5 goals and 4 assists. Tavares also made history over the weekend with his first goal of the game. It was the 700th goal of his career, making him the first player in NLL history to achieve this milestone.
Anthony Cosmo of the Boston Blazers has won the Defensive Player of the Week. The goaltender made 38 saves on 44 shots in an 11-6 victory over the Colorado Mammoth.

Paul Rabil was named the Transition Player of the Week. Rabil put up big numbers this weekend, despite the Stealth dropping both of their games. He recorded 4 goals and 5 assists to go along with 30 loose balls.
Rookie of the Week honors go to Toronto Rock forward Aaron Pascas. He scored one goal this past weekend, but it was the most important. Pascas scored in overtime to give the Rock a 9-8 win over the visiting Calgary Roughnecks. He also collected 4 loose balls in the winning effort.

Stealth Rush swap Codron for Hawksbee

After a weekend where the Washington Stealth lost a home-and-home series with the Edmonton Rush, the two teams decided to swap players.
The Stealth traded defender Tyler Codron to the Rush in exchange for veteran defender Ian Hawksbee.
Hawksbee has grown a reputation over the past handful of seasons as a good defender and one of the league's top loose ball grabbers.
The addition of Codron in Edmonton reunites the defender with Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan, who drafted him in the first round of the 2007 entry draft (6th overall.
During the 2009 WLA season, both Hawksbee (New Westminster Salmonbellies) and Codron (Maple Ridge Burrards) were named to the league’s First All-Star Team. Hawksbee was also awarded the WLA’s Defender of the Year award that same summer. 

Cover boys

Stony Brook University seniors Kevin Crowley and Jordan McBride graced the cover of Lacrosse Magazine in its college field lacrosse preview edition this month.
Crowley was also profiled by Terry Foy of Inside Lacrosse.
Both publications featured its college league previews.
Inside Lacrosse tags the Stony Brook Seawolves at eighth in the nation, while Lacrosse Magazine ranked the New York program as high as fourth overall.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Abolished draft jeopardizes parity in junior lacrosse

The junior Victoria Shamrocks stand to benefit from a controversial rule change around player recruiting in junior box lacrosse.
After four years of existence, the B.C. Junior Lacrosse League midget draft (2007 to 2010) has been cancelled after the B.C. Lacrosse Association ruled against it for 2011.
By doing so, the league has now reverted to the same rules that allowed the Burnaby Lakers to dominate the BCJLL for 12 years (1996 to 2008) while basement dwelling teams suffered annually.
From the junior-A Victoria Shamrocks’ perspective, recruiting from the open market gives his team a big advantage, general manager Rod Wood said.
Under the midget draft, players in the catchment area of the Westshore were protected by the Shamrocks. But if the Shamrocks organization wanted free agent players from the unprotected Victoria-Esquimalt, Saanich and Peninsula catchments, it had to catch them in draft.
Now, all free agents are eligible to play for the BCJLL team of their choice.
In the Shamrocks’ case, it’s a favourable situation Wood said.
“Practically every (lacrosse playing) kid from the South Island wants to be a Shamrock.”
It means Nanaimo will likely stand in line behind Victoria when it comes to attracting free agents from the South Island, a lacrosse hotbed producing some of the best
players in North America. And the situation is much more uncertain on the mainland, where the Coquitlam Adanacs are the 2010 Minto Cup champions, with New Westminster right behind them.
Wood sees the draft from opposing sides and is actually for it, though he admits his club can better recruit without a draft.
“As a GM it’s great to have a large pool to draw from and it will help my team, but as a governor on the league’s board, it’s not going to help the smaller, weaker teams,” Wood said.
“The problem now is top prospects from unprotected catchments like Maple Ridge are free to go to Coquitlam and New West,” Wood said.

- by Victoria News

Jr C team hits the gym

Here's a look at the Kingston Kings training camp.

Just another reason why lacrosse is an amazing sport

Every week in the NLL there are spectacular plays, many times leaving fans wondering - how they did that.
Well, Boston Blazers' Nick Cotter wowed the crowd against the Colorado Mammoth with this goal Saturday night.
Even if you aren't a lacrosse fan you've got to appreciate goals like this.

Sharp injury update

According to recently acquired Rock defender Ryan Sharp will have a clearer picture of the status of his injured knee later this week.
Thursday morning Sharp will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his knee injury which is suspected to be an MCL and ACL tear.
"It's a big loss for us,"  Rock assistant coach and GM Terry Sanderson said.  "We feel we have enough depth in this organization that other guys can and will step up to fill the void left by Ryan if he is done for the year."
Sharp was acquired on January 26, from the Minnesota Swarm in exchange for Toronto's first round selection in the 2013 NLL Entry Draft.
In 3 games with the Rock, he had one goal and had collected 15 loose balls and more importantly provided the gritty edge the club was looking for when he was traded to Toronto.

Tavares a goal scoring artist

Here's a great blog post from John Gurtler of  sharing his thoughts on John Tavares scoring goal No. 700.
They see the game differently.  They think differently.  React differently. Approach the game differently.
A common sentence used in the world of sport when talking about great players, and I’ve used it in previous blogs, is, “the game moves at a slower pace for them.”
As tough a game as it looks from my vantage point, and never having played a second of indoor lacrosse, it appears John Tavares takes the law of averages to a new level and chases father time farther from the truth.
Saturday’s nine-point performance (5 goals, 4 assists) by the greatest player ever to play indoor lacrosse was an example of how Tavares leads and how he makes the players believe.  It was truly a remarkable moment at the 9:51 mark of the first quarter last Saturday night in Philadelphia when he scored his 700th National Lacrosse League goal.  Nobody in the 25-year history of the League has been able to – or come close to – what the 20-year veteran of the Bandits did.  Modestly, he passed on the significance of the milestone.
“Honestly 699, 700, it’s not a really big difference,” Tavares said during our pre-game interview Saturday night.  “It’s just going out and playing a lacrosse game. If I score and make it my 700th, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t change my life one bit.”
Another sign of Tavares’ elite skill is the fact that all 14 of the shots he attempted at Philly were recorded on net, and five of them went in for goals, which gave him a very impressive 36% shooting percentage from the floor.  “I know it sounds really simple, some nights the ball goes in for you and some nights it doesn’t,” said Tavares.  “You’re shooting for one spot that goes somewhere else.  The game in Toronto (on Jan. 29) for example, I know I took a probable 15 shots and 10 of them hit (Rock goaltender Bob) Watson right in the stomach.  Not to take anything away from him but I am not aiming at his stomach, I am aiming at his corner.
“You’ve got to make sure everything is clicking including your own personal stick. Also the complexity of the game, if you’re trailing I find sometimes you’re pushing a little harder, you’re holding your stick tighter, you put a little more pressure on yourself to score.  When you’re leading a game, you feel a little bit more relaxed (and) the goals just seem to come a little easier.  That was evident against Minnesota.  I don’t think we trailed once in that game and we were very comfortable.  Against Toronto when we trailed the whole game, we were tight the whole game.”
To read the full story, and I suggest you do, click here