The rosters of the teams are officially set, the players have chosen their jerseys, and the National Lacrosse League is all but ready to get underway with its 2001-2001 campaign.
With less than two days until the NLL's opening night in Albany where the Attack is hosting the expansion New Jersey Storm, the NLL preseason officially came to a close last night at the Maple Leaf Gardens with the Buffalo Bandits claiming a 15-13 win over the expansion Montreal Express.
The game, which capped off an impressive thirteen-game exhibition season for the NLL, was the last time that teams had the chance to compete against one another, before professional indoor lacrosse's 16th season officially gets underway this Friday night.
As for the coaches around the league, they know first hand that although their squads may have had promising training camps and exhibition games, the true test will come during the regular season.
"Our two preseason games against the Vancouver Ravens were invaluable in allowing us to evaluate players," said Calgary Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall. "Of course the real test will come when the regular season opens for us and we begin to compete with some of the well established clubs."
Vancouver Ravens head coach Paul Dal Monte concurred with Hall's thoughts explaining that although it was nice to compete with fellow Canadian squad the Roughnecks, that the regular season and competing against the different teams is what counts.
"Our preseason contests against our western expansion rivals, the Calgary Roughnecks, have proven very valuable and we are looking forward to opening the season in Toronto on Nov. 17," Dal Monte said.
With games being played throughout eastern Canada in Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, and in western Canada in British Columbia, the NLL's preseason gave fans in non-traditional lacrosse markets a chance to experience the hard-hitting action first hand.
With more than 10,000 fans attending the games in Canada, the league is certainly making its presence known throughout North America and more specifcally towards its westward movement.
In addition to the Canadian tour, the preseason also ventured into the United States at such venues as the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester and the Peddie School Arena in New Jersey, with close to 10,000 combined fans observing those contests as well.
Not only was the fan turnout impressive, the field was brimming with nonstop action. With seven of the thirteen exhibition games being decided by two goals or less, the action this season promises to be the most intense and entertaining yet.
So with less than 48 hours until the opening face-off, the stage is set for a great season this year. With nationwide national television contracts, new sponsorships, and intense competition, the NLL is ready to officially kick off its 16th season this weekend.