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WK
1
Fri, Dec 2
FINAL
Philadelphia
8
Halifax
18
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Vancouver
8
Toronto
19
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
San Diego
15
New York
14
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Albany
11
Buffalo
10
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Rochester
16
Georgia
11
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Colorado
6
Saskatchewan
18
WK
2
Fri, Dec 9
20:30:00
Las Vegas
Panther City
Fri, Dec 9
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
San Diego
Sat, Dec 10
19:00:00
Toronto
Rochester
Sat, Dec 10
21:30:00
Vancouver
Calgary
WK
3
Fri, Dec 16
22:00:00
Calgary
Vancouver
Fri, Dec 16
22:30:00
Panther City
Las Vegas
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Buffalo
Toronto
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Rochester
Albany
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Georgia
Sat, Dec 17
19:30:00
Halifax
New York
Sat, Dec 17
20:00:00
Colorado
Panther City
WK
5
Fri, Dec 30
19:30:00
Halifax
Buffalo
Fri, Dec 30
21:00:00
San Diego
Calgary
Sat, Dec 31
21:00:00
Panther City
Saskatchewan
WK
6
Fri, Jan 6
22:30:00
Philadelphia
Las Vegas
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Panther City
Rochester
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Halifax
Albany
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Buffalo
Georgia
Sat, Jan 7
19:30:00
Toronto
New York
Sat, Jan 7
22:00:00
Calgary
Colorado
Sat, Jan 7
22:00:00
Vancouver
San Diego
WK
7
Fri, Jan 13
18:30:00
Albany
Halifax
Fri, Jan 13
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Colorado
Sat, Jan 14
19:00:00
Halifax
Toronto
Sat, Jan 14
19:00:00
Panther City
Philadelphia
Sat, Jan 14
19:30:00
Georgia
Buffalo
Sat, Jan 14
21:00:00
San Diego
Calgary
Sat, Jan 14
22:00:00
Las Vegas
Vancouver
Sun, Jan 15
15:00:00
Rochester
New York
WK
8
Fri, Jan 20
19:30:00
Buffalo
Rochester
Fri, Jan 20
22:30:00
Vancouver
Las Vegas
Sat, Jan 21
19:00:00
New York
Albany
Sat, Jan 21
19:00:00
Toronto
Philadelphia
WK
9
Fri, Jan 27
18:00:00
Rochester
Halifax
Fri, Jan 27
19:00:00
Buffalo
Philadelphia
Sat, Jan 28
19:30:00
Buffalo
New York
Sat, Jan 28
20:30:00
Las Vegas
Saskatchewan
Sat, Jan 28
21:00:00
Toronto
Calgary
Sat, Jan 28
21:00:00
San Diego
Colorado
Sat, Jan 28
22:00:00
Panther City
Vancouver
WK
10
Fri, Feb 3
21:00:00
Georgia
Colorado
Sat, Feb 4
18:00:00
Calgary
Halifax
Sat, Feb 4
19:00:00
New York
Toronto
Sat, Feb 4
19:00:00
Albany
Philadelphia
Sat, Feb 4
19:30:00
Rochester
Buffalo
Sat, Feb 4
22:00:00
Panther City
San Diego
Sat, Feb 4
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
Vancouver
Sat, Feb 4
22:30:00
Colorado
Las Vegas
WK
11
Fri, Feb 10
19:30:00
Toronto
Georgia
Fri, Feb 10
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Calgary
Sat, Feb 11
19:00:00
Halifax
Rochester
Sat, Feb 11
19:30:00
Albany
New York
Sat, Feb 11
20:00:00
Vancouver
Panther City
Sat, Feb 11
21:00:00
Colorado
Calgary
WK
12
Fri, Feb 17
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
San Diego
Fri, Feb 17
22:00:00
Calgary
Vancouver
Sat, Feb 18
19:00:00
Georgia
Toronto
Sat, Feb 18
19:00:00
Las Vegas
Albany
Sat, Feb 18
19:30:00
Philadelphia
Buffalo
Sat, Feb 18
20:00:00
Colorado
Panther City
Sun, Feb 19
13:00:00
New York
Halifax
WK
13
Fri, Feb 24
21:00:00
Panther City
Colorado
Fri, Feb 24
22:30:00
Calgary
Las Vegas
Sat, Feb 25
19:00:00
New York
Rochester
Sat, Feb 25
19:00:00
Albany
Georgia
Sat, Feb 25
20:00:00
Vancouver
Saskatchewan
WK
14
Fri, Mar 3
18:30:00
Buffalo
Halifax
Sat, Mar 4
11:30:00
New York
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 4
16:00:00
Las Vegas
San Diego
Sat, Mar 4
19:00:00
Rochester
Toronto
Sat, Mar 4
19:00:00
Georgia
Albany
Sat, Mar 4
20:00:00
Saskatchewan
Panther City
Mon, Mar 6
19:00:00
Toronto
Philadelphia
WK
15
Fri, Mar 10
19:30:00
Halifax
Buffalo
Fri, Mar 10
21:00:00
Calgary
Colorado
Sat, Mar 11
19:00:00
Albany
Toronto
Sat, Mar 11
19:30:00
Philadelphia
New York
Sat, Mar 11
20:30:00
San Diego
Saskatchewan
Sat, Mar 11
22:30:00
Vancouver
Las Vegas
Sun, Mar 12
16:00:00
Rochester
Georgia
WK
16
Fri, Mar 17
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Calgary
Fri, Mar 17
22:00:00
San Diego
Vancouver
Sat, Mar 18
11:00:00
Georgia
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 18
18:00:00
Toronto
Halifax
Sat, Mar 18
19:30:00
Albany
New York
Sat, Mar 18
19:30:00
Colorado
Buffalo
Sat, Mar 18
20:00:00
Las Vegas
Panther City
Sun, Mar 19
15:00:00
Philadelphia
Rochester
WK
17
Fri, Mar 24
20:30:00
San Diego
Panther City
Sat, Mar 25
19:00:00
Toronto
Albany
Sat, Mar 25
19:00:00
Halifax
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 25
19:30:00
Georgia
New York
Sat, Mar 25
21:30:00
Calgary
Saskatchewan
Sat, Mar 25
22:00:00
Buffalo
San Diego
Sat, Mar 25
22:00:00
Colorado
Vancouver
Sat, Mar 25
22:30:00
Rochester
Las Vegas
WK
18
Fri, Mar 31
20:00:00
New York
Georgia
Fri, Mar 31
21:00:00
Las Vegas
Colorado
Fri, Mar 31
22:00:00
Calgary
San Diego
Sat, Apr 1
19:00:00
Buffalo
Toronto
Sat, Apr 1
20:00:00
Albany
Panther City
Sat, Apr 1
21:30:00
Vancouver
Saskatchewan
Sun, Apr 2
13:00:00
Georgia
Halifax
Sun, Apr 2
18:00:00
Rochester
Philadelphia
WK
19
Sat, Apr 8
19:00:00
Albany
Rochester
Sat, Apr 8
19:00:00
Saskatchewan
Georgia
Sat, Apr 8
21:00:00
Panther City
Calgary
Sat, Apr 8
21:00:00
Vancouver
Colorado
Sat, Apr 8
22:30:00
San Diego
Las Vegas
WK
20
Fri, Apr 14
21:00:00
Las Vegas
Calgary
Fri, Apr 14
21:00:00
San Diego
Colorado
Sat, Apr 15
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Toronto
Sat, Apr 15
19:00:00
Georgia
Albany
Sat, Apr 15
19:30:00
New York
Buffalo
Sat, Apr 15
21:30:00
Halifax
Saskatchewan
Sat, Apr 15
22:00:00
Panther City
Vancouver
WK
21
Fri, Apr 21
20:30:00
Calgary
Panther City
Sat, Apr 22
18:00:00
New York
Halifax
Sat, Apr 22
19:00:00
Georgia
Rochester
Sat, Apr 22
20:00:00
Toronto
Buffalo
Sat, Apr 22
21:30:00
Colorado
Saskatchewan
Sat, Apr 22
22:00:00
Las Vegas
San Diego
Sun, Apr 23
15:00:00
Philadelphia
Albany
WK
22
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Rochester
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Buffalo
Albany
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Halifax
Georgia
Sat, Apr 29
22:00:00
Colorado
San Diego
Sat, Apr 29
22:00:00
New York
Vancouver
Sat, Apr 29
22:30:00
Saskatchewan
Las Vegas
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Stories/Op-Ed

Gajic An Ambassador On And Off The Floor

By Stephen Stamp | Staff Writer

There’s a lot more to lacrosse teams and their players than we see on the floor.  A great example from the roster of the Colorado Mammoth is transition player Ilija Gajic.

Gajic could apparently do it all when he was moving into senior lacrosse. How tough was he to face? His current coach in Colorado, Chris Gill, was playing with the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the Western Lacrosse Association when Gajic was named the top graduating player in the BC junior league. Gill was helping the Bellies’ coaches prepare for the WLA draft.

“In their draft prep they had 10 or 15 questions they asked every single draftee,” Gill relates. “One was, who was the toughest guy in junior and who was the scariest guy to play against, and every single answer was Ilija.”

Needless to say, New Westminster picked Gajic and he was a key member of the team, helping lead them to three straight Mann Cup finals beginning in 2008. The same athleticism, toughness and drive led to him being the second overall pick by Colorado in the 2009 NLL draft.

He was originally seen as an offensive player, based on his raw talent. As he will himself profess, playing in an offensive structure wasn’t his greatest asset, though. As Gill points out, “His best part of his offence was running the ball from centre in and just picking and choosing whether he was going to pass, shoot or go on a breakaway. He could read the play and he was so strong.”

Eventually, he shifted to a transition role and is once again a valuable member of the Mammoth roster after a two-year stint with the Vancouver Stealth.

As mentioned above, there’s a lot more to Gajic’s story than his skill and what he does on the turf. Gajic has always been a fan favourite, largely because he is so accessible to and friendly with the fans.

“Every single kid wanted to talk to him after the game,” Gill says of their time together in New West. “We’d go out there for three stars, he was always one of the stars. The coach would be in the dressing room wanting to talk and Ilija’s still out there talking to the fans, talking to the kids, signing autographs. Yeah, he lives for that stuff, man. He’s a great ambassador of the game.”

It’s more than just mingling with fans, though. Gajic enjoys and even seeks out chances to visit children’s hospitals and take part in events to support worthy causes. He’s a regular at children’s Make A Wish Foundation events in and around Denver, where he played in university before joining the Mammoth.

Gajic, as you might expect, plays down the extracurricular work he does. “Not that I’ve gone out of my way, I’ve just been fortunate to get hooked up with these organizations,” he told NLL.com. He may profess to just being lucky, but you tend to “get hooked up with these organizations” when you virtually never say no to a request and you clearly enjoy yourself while taking part, not to mention bringing joy to the folks you interact with.

Gajic is particularly active with charities addressing colitis and related diseases. It hits close to home since he developed ulcerative colitis in his mid-20s.

“I had to be on drugs and everything. You have to learn how to control it, what your body can take and what it can’t take,” Gajic says. “Fortunately, I don’t have Crohns, I have ulcerative colitis and it’s in a part of the body that can be controlled. I’m not on medication any more but I still hear horror stories from people I’m close to, what they have to deal with and it’s terrible.”

Gajic is glad he was able to keep playing the game he loves, especially given how big a role sports have always played in the life of him and his family. His mother, from Vancouver, was a field hockey player. His dad hails from Serbia and played soccer at a high level. Their four sons—Milan, Nenad, Ilija and Alex, in order of birth—played all kinds of sports but lacrosse is where they really made their mark.

The Burnaby clan were major contributors to the dominant run by their hometown Lakers, among the four of them earning nine Minto Cup championship rings. They also got to play together with the Salmonbellies.

“It was awesome. We’ve been fortunate to be close in age so we’ve gotten to play together a lot. It’s a lot of fun,” Ilija says. “I think once the game starts you forget about it and they’re just any other teammates. But it’s always kind of cool to have that experience. In the future, you can say we all played at a high level together.”

Ilija and Alex have even gotten to play internationally together. They led Serbia to its first ever international wins at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in 2015.

With his trademark sense of humour, Ilija pumped up the outstanding performance at the tournament by Alex, who lost the sight in one eye several years ago. “He lit it up. He was good out there. The one-eyed bandit was just sniping out there.”

Kids just seem to gravitate towards Ilija. It was no different at the worlds. I was fortunate enough to witness his interaction with a young lacrosse player who travelled from Long Island, New York to the Onondaga Nation to interview players for a school project. The youngster was nervous at first as his mother brought him over to talk with Ilija, but the Serbian made him comfortable throughout the interview.

Gajic didn’t just answer questions, he asked about the young player’s lacrosse league and his project as well, all while sporting a freshly applied cast for the broken thumb he had suffered at the tournament. For those who know him, none of that was out of character or surprising from Gajic. He’s an asset on the floor and an ambassador off it.

And he is more than happy to be part of Serbia’s efforts to grow the game. “Going to play for that country made my dad very proud and therefore made me very proud,” Gajic says. “That’s my team. I love those guys and I can’t wait to get back and hook up with those guys again and battle with them.”

For his teammates and fans in Serbia, Colorado and elsewhere, the feeling is mutual.

NLL