“When I was growing up, I used to love this time of year. It was when I put my hockey equipment away and I was absolutely ecstatic to see the end of the hockey season. I could hardly wait to get my lacrosse stick out and start throwing the ball around. It didn’t matter how cold or rainy it would be, we’d be out firing the ball against walls and working on our moves as we played the lacrosse equivalent to road hockey.”
A profound statement from hockey’s greatest, Wayne Gretzky, who in a National Post interview believed that, “One of the worst things to happen to hockey, in my opinion, has been year-round hockey. All it does for kids, as far as I can tell, is to keep them out of sports they should be doing in warmer weather.”
Two Powell River Kings echo those thoughts. “It’s great cardio, running around,” said Sean Maguire, Powell River Kings’ goaltender, who started playing lacrosse at age 11. “I don’t get to be an ‘out’ player in hockey, so I guess it’s kind of like my alter ego.”
Teammate Scott Renner, a hard-hitting forward with the Kings, was hooked at the age of eight and said, “It’s fun, it’s fast and it’s hard.”
Concussions are a big topic of discussion in contact sports these days but Renner said lacrosse hasn’t had a problem with this type of injury. “In hockey you get a lot of body on body, shoulder on shoulder, but in lacrosse you get the stick so it’s not as big of a hit.”
Organizers are quick to point out that the Powell River Minor Lacrosse League leans in the direction of participation and a readiness to keep overly aggressive play under control.
“Lacrosse has a bad reputation as a really rough sport,” said spokesman Roy Mabbett, “but we’ve always stayed on top of it and always encouraged the safety aspect. I think we’ve done a really good job and we’ve really had only two injuries and they came from stepping on balls and turning ankles.”
Powell River has had an on again-off again affair with Canada’s national sport since 1926 but Mabbett said, “Since our affiliation with BC Lacrosse in 2004 our numbers rose continually until 2009 when we topped out, I think, at 178. We’ve dropped down to about 125 but more important than the numbers I would be really happy to see the younger kids at registration.”
The schedule is family friendly with sessions starting at 5 pm and ending about 9:30 pm, Monday through Thursday from the third week of April to the end of June.
“We know that Powell River is a great outdoors town,” said Mabbett, “and if you tried to do anything on Friday or Sunday night you’d probably be playing with no bench.”
Fortunately, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers led by Vince Metcalf, league president, lacrosse is an option for active children in Powell River.
“This is officially our sixth season as Powell River Minor Lacrosse,” he said, “and we hope that the sport will continue to grow in our community. We’re really excited about our upcoming season and the more kids the better.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or signing up is encouraged to contact Metcalf at 604.485.9565. There will also be another opportunity to register between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturday, April 2 at Powell River Recreation Complex.