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Stories/Op-Ed

Lacrosse is BACK!

Not too long ago we couldn’t leave our homes, see our friends, or root on our favorite players. We were made to quarantine and feared going to the grocery store and seeing our friends and family. It seems like that is a distant memory now for most, and our energy is focused on a return to normalcy. Your remote job is now recommending that you come back into the office and you’re starting to realize that you have to go to the family functions you’ve been able to avoid. Lacrosse on all fronts is beginning to open up, and it will only be a matter of months before NLL players are gearing up for training camp and looking to earn a roster spot. Throughout the past year the Premier Lacrosse League has continued the play of lacrosse, following state and federal guidelines to keep delivering the game. Luckily some of the worlds best lacrosse players are box lacrosse players first and we get to enjoy them on the PLL field. 

As the burgers and hot dogs sizzle on the grill, surrounded by family and friends you’ve likely caught some PLL action this July 4th weekend watching Buffalo Bandit stars Chase Fraser, Josh Byrne, and Chris Cloutier get into a little tussle with Halifax’s Kyle Jackson and Tyson Bell of the Cannons. Although the field lacrosse world likely was caught off guard, this is standard friendly conversational tussle that happens every couple quarters in the NLL. Since the Halifax Thunderbirds were founded in 2019 with primarily the core of the old Rochester Knighthawks roster, they’ve kept the animosity and competitive spirit alive between that old I-90 rivalry.

Halifax and Buffalo are creating a nice rivalry in the North. The Chaos came out victorious in that one. Buffalo Bandits star Josh Byrne is leading the Chaos in points, goals and assists, followed closely by fellow Bandit Chris Cloutier. Top points leader at midfield is none other than the Great Dhane Smith. We all know and love the Chaos’ dual threat goalie, Philadelphia Wings forward Blaze Riorden. The Chaos would be the NLL fans’ go-to team for the PLL and many experts have nicknamed Chaos the Box Team of the NLL. After watching, I noticed a lot of familiar NLL names and faces scoring goals and making big plays. 

Each team has its core of NLL players making a huge impact, “Captain America,” Tom Shrieber and Latrell Harris of the Toronto Rock dominate the midfield for the Archers, while Halifax’s very own Graeme Hossack holds down the back end in his first year playing pro field lacrosse. Number one overall draft pick in the 2020 NLL draft by the New York Riptide, Jeff Teat, is making his presence known with Atlas and it seems he has the intent to do it when he reaches Nassau Coliseum in the fall. The Cannons team is anchored by former NLL player and co-founder of the PLL, Paul Rabil and current NLL star Tyson Bell. On attack, the Cannons are star studded with Georgia Swarm’s Lyle Thompson and Andrew Kew of the FireWolves. The Cannons back end is led by arguably the greatest of all time, Brodie Merrill, of the San Diego Seals. Top scorers on midfield for the Chrome are none other than the Swarms’ Jordan McIntosh and the Riptides’ John Ranagan. Myles Jones, a member of the New York Riptide last season and Jules Heningberg of the Albany FireWolves lead the Redwoods midfield. The Waterdogs have a few powerhouse NLL players leading them in points with New York’s Kieran McArdle, Roughnecks Zach Currier and newly added Panther City  Lacrosse Club’s Connor Kelly. Last but certainly not least the two time Champion of the PLL, has some well known NLL players and arguably two of the best players in the world, Colorado Mammoth’s Zed Williams and Philadelphia Wings Matt Rambo. NLL stars have taken the PLL by storm and you’re able to catch all of your NLL favorites play. It’s not box lacrosse, but having our athletes compete again is what the world needs and could potentially satisfy a little of your thirst before faceoff weekend December 3-4. 

The PLL is not the only lacrosse being played, earlier this month the IBLA got underway, and the Collegiate box series is starting along with Junior Lacrosse in Canada. The amount of talent playing in the various leagues is astounding. For the past year lacrosse players have been chomping on the bit to play again and once they hit the floor we will see their excitement.

The IBLA has grown tremendously with teams popping up in several cities across the country. Every player is hungry to play box lacrosse and compete for a chance to hoist the trophy in Tampa this September. Games are competitive and fast. The IBLA is quickly becoming a league that NLL pros on the brink and NLL hopefuls will compete in to earn a chance to play in the big show! 

What’s most exciting about the Collegiate Box Lacrosse series is most teams will have a solid mix of box lacrosse players and field lacrosse players, for some this will be their first real box lacrosse experience. This is the perfect way for American’s with little to no box experience to learn the game from some of the best and set their eyes on playing in the NLL some day. Players from top NCAA lacrosse schools play in this league, with programs like Albany, Denver, Duke, Virginia, Syracuse and Johns Hopkins all being represented. Several of the teams’ coaching staff are made up of current and former professional players. The players new to box lacrosse will be receiving a master-class in the game, applying their skills and likely gaining experience quickly. The college box lacrosse series will help to elevate the speed and IQ of their respective collegiate teams these players return to in the fall. Those Canadian college players who’ve stayed south of the border will certainly be taking full advantage of the Collegiate Box Series and likely elevate the play of their American counterparts. Fans can watch the NCBS games played in Albany, Western NY (Rochester/Buffalo), Colorado, Ohio, and California for free here. The CLA announcing the abbreviated junior season  dates in August and the opening of playing is certainly a bright spot in the Canadian lacrosse world. 

Lacrosse is a medicine game, for thousands of years the game has been used to heal communities, players and those involved. It’s believed that the Creator gave the game of lacrosse to the people as a form of medicine, when played the right way with a clear mind and with everything you have the game will heal. The lacrosse players have been sidelined for too long, from the looks of the PLL, IBLA, Collegiate Lacrosse Series and CLA – good medicine will be spread as these athletes compete with everything they have. We are in the midst of Lacrosse being back in full swing and can enjoy the NLL talent in all leagues this summer, until we are able to get our fill on faceoff weekend coming December 3-4, 2021. 

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