By Josh Beneteau
Last weekend, the Toronto Shooting Stars made their Canadian Lacrosse League (CLax) debut in front of 500 cheering fans at the MAC – the first time lacrosse had been played in the building formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens in 13 years.
“Last time I was here, I was eight years old,” said Shooting Star Aaron Grayson. “It’s pretty exciting to play here.”
CLax, entering its second season of league play, is a semi-professional indoor lacrosse league designed for players that don’t quite make the top league in North America, the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
CLax is comprised of seven teams – with clubs located in Toronto, Barrie, Brampton, Oshawa, St. Catharines and Hagersville (two teams, the Iroquois Ironmen and the Ohsweken Demons, play here) – playing a 14 game season.
Indoor lacrosse (also known as box lacrosse) uses a similar format as hockey, with a goalie and five players (called “runners,” as opposed to skaters).
“But the strategy is closer to basketball, with pick-and-rolls and a more offensive mindset,” said CLax
Deputy Commissioner Jim Veltman, who was the captain for Toronto’s NLL team, the Rock, for 10 seasons, and is regarded by many to be the Wayne Gretzky of lacrosse.
Despite being Canada’s national game, lacrosse isn’t as well-known, played or watched as other sports.
But the Toronto Shooting Stars are hoping to change that for Ryerson students.
“What you see [the crowd turnout] is by word of mouth,” said Veltman. “Once we have a chance to get our feet off the ground, we hope to get into the Ryerson community to [show them] a product we hope they will love.”
CLax Commissioner Paul St. John said he was in contact with the RSU and is hoping a partnership will draw in more students to games.
The Shooting Stars next home game is Feb. 3 vs. the Barrie Blizzard.