Team Canada Games to Air on TSN2

OTTAWA, ON – Take note Canadian lacrosse fans, Team Canada’s remaining games at the 2014 FIL World Field Lacrosse Championships will be coming to a television near you.

The Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) is excited to confirm that TSN2 will broadcast the final three games of Team Canada’s pool-play. In addition to that, as Team Canada advances, TSN2 will continue to broadcast their games.

The exciting lacrosse action will hit Canadian airwaves tonight at 10pm EST when Team Canada faces the Iroquois Nationals in game three of their Blue Division pool-play.

Team Canada’s reaming schedule for pool-play (Blue Division) is:
Sunday July 13 – CANADA v. Iroquois, 10pm EST
Monday July 14 – CANADA v. Japan, 4pm EST
Tuesday July 15 – CANADA v. Australia, 10pm EST

Meet Team Canada: With the team about to be on your television, we thought you would like to know just who is who. The CLA, head coach Randy Mearns and the entire coaching and management staff is pleased to introduce Team Canada’s final game roster:

2014 Team Canada Roster

#             Name

3             Brennan Donville

7             Dan Coates

8             Kyle Rubisch

9             Jesse Gamble

14           Wesley Berg

17           Brodie Merrill

18           Cam Flint

19           Cameron Holding

21           Kevin Crowley

23           Adam Jones

24           Jordan MacIntosh

25           Jeremy Noble

33           David Earl

35           Geoff Snider

37           Dillon Ward

42           Mark Matthews

44           Jordan Hall

45           Jason Noble

48           Matt Vinc

71           Curtis Dickson

88           Zack Greer

91           Dillon Roy

92           Jesse King

This is a great first step in growing the game and getting lacrosse the television recognition it deserves but to continue to see it on television the demand must be there. So call up all your friends, family and neighbours and tell them to tune in over the next 7 days as Canada continues its quest for the world title, show TSN and other Canadian broadcasters just how much Canadians love Canada’s national summer sport.

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Team Canada Drops Opener at Worlds

DENVER, CO – It was a quick start, three straight goals from Team Canada was the opening Team Canada was looking for in the first quarter of their opening game of the 2014 FIL World Championships against long-standing rival Team USA. 

Mark Matthews (1goal, 1assist) got Canada on the board first early in the first quarter off an assist from Wesley Berg (1 assist).  The score remained 1-0 in Canada’s favour through the first quarter.  Early in the second quarter Canada found the back of the net twice when Canada’s Curtis Dickson (1 goal) potted his first of the worlds, followed quickly by Jeremy Noble (1 goal) off an assist by Jordan McIntosh (1 assist), increasing Canada’s lead to 3-0.  A minute and a half later USA scored their first of what would be a six-goal run for Team USA to end the first half doubling Canada 6-3.

Continuing their run, USA added two more to start the second half before Zack Greer (2 goals) scored his first of two to break the run.  One more goal by Team USA before the end of the third quarter saw Canada behind by five, Team Canada 4, Team USA 9. 

Faceoff specialist, Geoff Snider won the opening draw of the fourth, broke through US defenders sniping one past USA goalie Jesse Schwartzman to swing momentum back in Canada’s favour six seconds into the final quarter.  Zack Greer, off an assist from Cam Flint (1 assist) solved Schwartzman for his second of the game pulling Canada within 3 of the US.   Canada finished the game the way they had started by out-scoring Team USA 3-1 in the fourth quarter when Kevin Crowley (1 goal) netted one late in the game but time ran out and ultimately Canada dropped their first game of the Worlds 10-7 to defending World champions Team USA. 

Amongst some shining moments on both ends of the field for the team, starting goalie Dillion Ward shone the brightest when he answered the question whether Canada would continue to produce world-class goalies with 18 saves against an offense-heavy USA who outshot Canada 40-20.

Canada continues pool-play on Saturday against Team England at 8pm MST at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, CO.

Game statistics can be found at: http://www.worldlacrosse2014.com/sports/mlax/2013-14/boxscores/20140710_5jhm.xml

The 2014 Men’s Field World Lacrosse Championships runs July 10-19 in Denver, Colorado.
The official website of the event is http://www.worldlacrosse2014.com

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For more information, contact:
Britany Gordon
Events and Communication Coordinator
Canadian Lacrosse Association
613-897-2748
britany@lacrosse.ca

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THANK YOU Team Canada 2014 Sponsors

The 2014 Team Canada Sr. Men’s Field Lacrosse would like to thank ALL their sponsors and supporters. Their quest for gold is paved a little brighter thanks to their generous support.

TC2014_Title Sponsors_2TC2014_Game Jersey Sponsors

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Team Canada Roster Announced for Worlds

The Canadian Lacrosse Association has announced the 24 players selected to the Canadian National Men’s Field Lacrosse Team. Team Canada will compete at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships on July 10-19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Team Canada head coach Randy Mearns (St. Catharines, Canisius University) will lead the effort to claim a third World Championship for Canada.  “When we started this journey in the summer of 2012, we were certain that our player pool would be the most extensive group of players with character, talent, lax IQ, experience and athleticism ever assembled for Canada lacrosse.  It indeed was the case.  The reality is that determining our final roster was both very challenging and extremely difficult.  We have so many players; and that’s a great thing for Canada lacrosse.  As a staff, we adhered to our process: with constant player evaluation and analysis, staff debates and discussion.   In the end, we have to make decisions, as tough as they may be, to move to the next stage of our process – the 2014 World Championships.”

The 2014 Team Canada roster, with the player’s current professional (MLL/NLL) or college team and minor lacrosse team, is as follows:

Last Name First Name Professional College Minor
Berg Wesley   Denver Coquitlam
Coates Dan Colorado   St. Catharines
Crowley Kevin FLA./Phil.   New Westminster
Dickson Curtis Den./Calg.   Poco
Dineley Angus Roch./Phil.   Toronto
Donville Brennan   Cornell Oakville
Earl David NY/Minn.   Hartford
Flint Cam Den./Minn.   Halton
Gamble Jesse Toronto      Guelph
Grant John Den./Col.   Peterborough
Greer Zack Den./Edm.   Whitby
Hall Jordan FLA./Phil.   Delta
Holding Cameron Ches./Col.   Whitby
Jones Adam Colorado   Owen Sound
King Jesse   Ohio State Juan De Fuca
Matthews Mark NY/Edm.   Whitby
Merrill Brodie Bos./Phil.   Orangeville
Noble Jason FLA/Minn.   Orangeville
Noble Jeremy   Denver Orangeville
Roy Dillon Denver   Denver
Rubisch Kyle Ches./Edm.   Brampton
Snider Geoff Char./Calg.   Calgary
Vinc Matt Rochester   St. Catharines
Ward Dillon FLA./Col.   Orangeville

About the Canadian Lacrosse Association
The Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) is the governing body responsible for all aspects of lacrosse in Canada. The CLA mission is to honour the sport of lacrosse and its unique nation-building heritage, by engaging our members and leading our partners and providing opportunities for all Canadians to participate. We value health, excellence, accountability, respect and teamwork. For more details on the Canadian Lacrosse Association and the sport of lacrosse, visit http://www.lacrosse.ca

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For more information, contact:
Britany Gordon
Events and Communication Coordinator
Canadian Lacrosse Association
613-260-2028 ext. 302
britany@lacrosse.ca

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Schedule Released for FIL World Championship

Original Release: http://www.worldlacrosse2014.com/news/030414_schedule_released_for_fil_world_championship_lacrosse

BALTIMORE — The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) has announced the complete schedule and division alignments for the 2014 FIL Men’s World Championship, which takes place July 10-19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., the “Official Competition City” for the world championship.

A record 38 nations will participate in this year’s world championship and will play 142 games over 10 days, beginning with a rematch of the last world championship game. The event opens on Thursday, July 10 with the opening ceremony at 5 p.m., followed by the host United States team battling Canada. The U.S. beat Canada, 12-10, in the 2010 world championship in Manchester, England.

The field is broken into nine divisions, with the top six teams competing in the Blue Division. The other eight divisions all have four teams and are not grouped by world ranking.

The Blue Division has six days of pool play (July 10-15) and the top four teams in the Blue Division advance to the quarterfinal round. The top two seeds receive a bye into the semifinals. The other eight divisions have three pool play games and will begin bracket play on July 14. The top team in each of the eight divisions after pool play will have the opportunity to advance to the quarterfinal round of the championship bracket.

In addition to the FIL World Championship, more than 150 teams are already registered for the boys’ youth and men’s elite/master’s World Festivals, which will be held in conjunction with the world championship at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

This is the first time the quadrennial FIL Men’s World Championship has been held in the United States since 1998 when it was played in Baltimore.

For more information about the 2014 FIL World Championship, including ticket package details, please visit http://www.worldlacrosse2014.com.

Divisions

Blue Division
Australia
Canada
England
Iroquois
Japan
United States

Green Division
China
Italy
Netherlands
Norway

Grey Division
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Poland
Turkey

Orange Division
Israel
Republic of Korea
Slovakia
Sweden

Plum Division
Argentina
New Zealand
Russia
Wales

Red Division
Austria
Belgium
Germany
Hong Kong

Turquoise Division
Colombia
Finland
Mexico
Spain

White Division
Latvia
Scotland
Switzerland
Thailand

Yellow Division
Bermuda
France
Ireland
Uganda

Schedule (All times Mountain)

Thursday, July 10
5 p.m. – Opening Ceremony, Stadium
7 p.m. – United States vs. Canada, Stadium

Friday, July 11
8 a.m. – Netherlands vs. China, Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Latvia vs. Switzerland, Field 8
9 a.m. – Italy vs. Norway, Field 4
9 a.m. – Bermuda vs. France, Field 6
9:30 a.m. – Hong Kong vs. Austria, Field 1
9:30 a.m. – Wales vs. Russia, Field 3
11 a.m. – Scotland vs. Thailand, Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Finland vs. Colombia, Field 2
11:30 a.m. – Slovakia vs. Korea, Field 5
11:30 a.m. – Sweden vs. Israel, Field 8
12 p.m. – Czech Republic vs. Turkey, Field 6
12:30 p.m. – Poland vs. Costa Rica, Field 1
12:30 p.m. – New Zealand vs. Argentina, Field 3
12:30 p.m. – Spain vs. Mexico, Field 4
2 p.m. – Germany vs. Belgium, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Ireland vs. Uganda, Field 8
5 p.m. – Australia vs. Japan, Stadium
8 p.m. – England vs. Iroquois, Stadium

Saturday, July 12
8 a.m. – Korea vs. Sweden, Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Austria vs. Germany, Field 8
9:30 a.m. – Uganda vs. Bermuda, Field 2
9:30 a.m. – Norway vs. Netherlands, Field 3
9:30 a.m. – Colombia vs. Spain, Field 6
10:30 a.m. – Russia vs. New Zealand, Field 1
11 a.m. – France vs. Ireland, Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Belgium vs. Hong Kong, Field 5
11:30 a.m. – Argentina vs. Wales, Field 8
12 p.m. – Switzerland vs. Scotland, Field 4
12:30 p.m. – Thailand vs. Latvia, Field 2
12:30 p.m. – China vs. Italy, Field 3
12:30 p.m. – Turkey vs. Poland, Field 6
2 p.m. – Japan vs. Iroquois, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Finland vs. Mexico, Field 8
5 p.m. – Australia vs. United States, Field 10
5:30 p.m. – Costa Rica vs. Czech Republic, Field 8
8 p.m. – Canada vs. England, Field 10

8:30 p.m. – Israel vs. Slovakia, Field 8

Sunday, July 13
8 a.m. – Wales vs. New Zealand, Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Czech Republic vs. Poland, Field 8
9 a.m. – Scotland vs. Latvia, Field 4
9:30 a.m. – Thailand vs. Switzerland, Field 1
9:30 a.m. – Belgium vs. Austria, Field 6
10 a.m. – Russia vs. Argentina, Field 3
10 a.m. – Colombia vs. Mexico, Field 5
11 a.m. – Germany vs. Hong Kong, Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Israel vs. Korea, Field 2
11:30 a.m. – Finland vs. Spain, Field 8
12 p.m. – Uganda vs. France, Field 4
12:30 p.m. – China vs. Norway, Field 1
1
2:30 p.m. – Sweden vs. Slovakia, Field 6
1 p.m. – Turkey vs. Costa Rica, Field 3
2 p.m. – England vs. Australia, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Netherlands vs. Italy, Field 8
5 p.m. – United States vs. Japan, Field 10
5:30 p.m. – Ireland vs. Bermuda, Field 8
8 p.m. – Iroquois vs. Canada, Field 10

Monday, July 14
8 a.m. – White #1 vs. Turquoise #1 (Game 4), Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Grey #2 vs. Red #2 (Game 5), Field 8
9 a.m. – Plum #4 vs. Green #4 (Game 15), Field 5
9:30 a.m. – Grey #4 vs. Red #4 (Game 13), Field 1
9:30 a.m. – Turquoise #4 vs. White #4 (Game 16), Field 6
10 a.m. – White #3 vs. Turquoise #3 (Game 12), Field 4
11 a.m. – Yellow #3 vs. Orange #3 (Game 10), Field 2
11 a.m. – Red #1 vs. Grey #1 (Game 1), Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Orange #4 vs. Yellow #4 (Game 14), Field 3
11:30 a.m. – Turquoise #2 vs. White #2 (Game 8), Field 8
12 p.m. – Plum #2 vs. Green #2 (Game 7), Field 5
12:30 p.m. – Red #3 vs. Grey #3 (Game 9), Field 1
12:30 p.m. – Orange #2 vs. Yellow #2 (Game 6), Field 6
1 p.m. – Green #3 vs. Plum #3 (Game 11), Field 4
2 p.m. – Japan vs. Canada, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Green #1 vs. Plum #1 (Game 3), Field 8
5 p.m. – England vs. United States, Field 10
5:30 p.m. – Yellow #1 vs. Orange #1 (Game 2), Field 8
8 p.m. – Iroquois vs. Australia, Field 10

Tuesday, July 15
8 a.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Game 17), Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 11 (Game 22), Field 8
9 a.m. – Loser Game 15 vs. Loser Game 16 (Game 32), Field 5
9:30 a.m. – Loser Game 11 vs. Loser Game 12 (Game 30), Field 2
9:30 a.m. – Loser Game 14 vs. Loser Game 13 (Game 31), Field 4
10 a.m. – Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 (Game 28), Field 3
11 a.m. – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (Game 20), Field 1
11 a.m. – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (Game 18), Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 9 (Game 21), Field 8
12 p.m. – Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14 (Game 23), Field 5
12 p.m. – Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16 (Game 24), Field 6
12:30 p.m. – Loser Game 9 vs. Loser Game 10 (Game 29), Field 2
12:30 p.m. – Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 5 (Game 27), Field 4
1 p.m. – Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (Game 26), Field 3
2 p.m. – Japan vs. England, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (Game 25), Field 8
5 p.m. – United States vs. Iroquois, Field 10
5:30 p.m. – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, Field 8
8 p.m. – Canada vs. Australia, Field 10

Wednesday, July 16
8:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 10
9 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 1
9 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 6
11 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 8
11:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 2
12 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 6
12 p.m. – Blue #5 vs. Loser Game 17 (Game 35), Field 10
2 p.m. – Blue #6 vs. Loser Game 17 (Game 36), Field 8
4 p.m. – Quarterfinal: Blue #3 vs. Winner Game 18 (Game 33), Field 10
7 p.m. – Quarterfinal: Blue #4 vs. Winner Game 17 (Game 34), Field 10

Thursday, July 17
8 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 8
9 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 5
9:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 6
10 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 2
10 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 4
10:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 1
11 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 8
12 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 5
12:30 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 6
1 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 2
1 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 4
1:30 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 1
2 p.m. – 37th place game: Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 3
2:30 p.m. – Consolation bracket game, Field 8
4:30 p.m. – Semifinal: Blue #2 vs. Winner Game 33 (Game 37), Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Semifinal: Blue #1 vs. Winner Game 34 (Game 38), Stadium

Friday, July 18
8 a.m. – Placement game, Field 10
8:30 a.m. – Placement game, Field 8
9 a.m. – Placement game, Field 2
9 a.m. – Placement game, Field 6
10 a.m. – Placement game, Field 1
10 a.m. – Placement game, Field 5
11 a.m. – Placement game, Field 10
11:30 a.m. – Placement game, Field 8
12:30 p.m. – Placement game, Field 2
12:30 p.m. – Placement game, Field 6
2 p.m. – Placement game, Field 10
2:30 p.m. – Placement game, Field 8
5 p.m. – Placement game, Field 10
5:30 p.m. – Placement game, Field 8
8 p.m. – Placement game, Field 10

Saturday, July 19
11 a.m. – 5th place game: Winner Game 35 vs. Winner Game 36, Field 10
2 p.m. – 3rd place game: Loser Game 37 vs. Loser Game 38, Field 10
7 p.m. – Championship game: Winner Game 37 vs. Winner Game 38, Stadium
9:30 p.m. – Closing Ceremony, Stadium

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Dan Dawson Looks Forward To Return to Montreal

Written by: Neil Stevens

Dan Dawson was an unknown rookie pro when he played box lacrosse in Montreal in 2002 but on Nov. 17 he’ll return as a decorated star forward, and Canada’s captain for an important exhibition game against the Iroquois Nationals in the Bell Centre.

“It’s truly a great honor,” Dawson says of the “C” that will be on his chest.  “Being able to represent your country is big, and then for the coaching staff to ask me to be the captain, it will be something I’ll forever cherish. I’ll take a lot of pride in it. We’ll do everything in our power to win the game.”

Dawson will be No. 6 for Canada. It’s the number he wears in the National Lacrosse League. He helped the Rochester Knighthawks win the pro title last May. He’s been such an awesome force since entering the league that he’s skyrocketed to seventh on the all-time points list, and he’s only 31. In 185 games, he’s scored 369 goals and assisted on 575 for 944 points.

His rookie season was spent with the long-gone Columbus Landsharks who on Jan. 11, 2002, defeated the Montreal Express 13-12 in what was known as the Molson Centre. It was renamed

“It’s an amazing venue,” says Dawson.  “There were about 12,000 fans at that game. They’re very passionate sports fans in Quebec. It was tight, a one-goal game. I was only 20 and was blown away by all the championship banners in the rafters and the rich hockey history they represented.”

Dawson played his second lacrosse game in the arena last December. It was an NLL exhibition game between Rochester and the Toronto Rock.

“It was a great experience,” he says.  “I really do think there is a market for the NLL to expand back into Montreal.”

Now he prepares for his third appearance as a lacrosse player in Montreal, and he’ll be playing against some of his NLL teammates including Knighthawks captain Sid Smith, who is a bruising defenceman.

“It’s something you face in international play,” says Dawson.  “Teammates now become foes. You can have great respect for them and know their talents but for 60 minutes the competitive nature comes out in you. You put friendships aside. When you represent your country, you do whatever you can to win.”

“Sid is an unbelievable competitor, one of the best defencemen in the world. But going up against the best players in the world gives you a good measuring stick on where you are with your game.”

So, will Dawson be quietly asking Smith to take it easy on him on Nov. 17?

“No way,” he says.  “I know those guys over there and anytime they get to represent the Iroquois they pour their hearts and souls into it. It’s

Dawson was a member of Canada’s victorious 2005 Heritage Cup team in Denver, won his first world indoor championship gold medal in Halifax in 2007, got silver at the world field tournament in Manchester, England, in 2010, and earned another world indoor gold medal in Prague in 2011. He was an assistant captain on that team.

The 13-6 final score against the Iroquois in the title game in Prague masks the hard-fought nature of that confrontation. Canada only led 2-1 after one quarter as Dawson and his teammates battled Smith, Cody Jamieson, who is another Rochester teammate of Dawson’s, and the rest of a fast-breaking Iroquois side.

“They have a very fast transition style,” says Dawson.  “They have many players who can play both ends of the floor and if we don’t hold ourselves accountable they’ll definitely run the ball on us. They have great defenders and goaltending, too, so there are no holes in their game.”

Canada has never lost a world indoor tournament game, but the Iroquois and the U.S. national team are formidable opponents. The seriousness of challenges grows every year.

“Every national team around the world is getting better,” says Dawson.  “Six Nations has been winning (amateur) championships at different levels in Canada year after year. They have a plethora of talent coming through their system.”

The six-foot-two playmaker first picked up a lacrosse stick when he was 12 growing up in Oakville, Ontario. Hockey in the winter, lacrosse in the summer – that’s the way it was, and still is, for many Canadian kids. Now he’s Canada’s captain, and it is a well-deserved honor for one of the best players in the world, who has earned the respect of coaches and peers for the high level of sportsmanship he displays on and off the floor.

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Merrills Look Forward To Return To Montreal

Lacrosse playing brothers Pat and Brodie Merrill have strong ties to Montreal.

Their father, Peter Merrill, was born and raised in the city _ Lachine, to be exact _ and they were, too, so it will be a homecoming of sorts when they play for Canada against the formidable Iroquois team in the Bell Centre at 2 p.m. on Nov. 17. Their dad will be there to watch.

Peter Merrill played football at the University of New Brunswick and was pretty good.  “I tried out with the Alouettes (of the CFL) but didn’t make it,’’ he recalls.

He would eventually be part of a pro sports team in Montreal, but it wouldn’t be football. Merrill moved his family to Ontario just before his boys reached their teens to chase a business opportunity and they settled in Orangeville, which is an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto. It is a lacrosse hotbed and the kids quickly caught on, and they soon became prominent players. Terry Sanderson, now GM of the National Lacrosse League’s Toronto Rock, lives in Orangeville and he soon had Peter Merrill helping coach his senior lacrosse team in nearby Brampton.

When Sanderson was named head coach in 2002 of a new NLL team in Montreal, the Express, he didn’t need to do much talking to induce Merrill into being an assistant coach. It was a memorable time for all involved.

“It was awesome,’’ recalls Merrill, who had the benefit of being bilingual.

Montreal’s 32-17 win in Calgary in its NLL opener was a record-setting affair, and the Express followed that up with a 23-16 win over Calgary in their home opener in front of more than 10,000 spectators. Tracey Kelusky, the Peterborough, Ontario, native who now plays for the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits, was the captain. The Express finished that season with an 8-8 record.

“We really had a good following in Montreal,’’ Peter Merrill recalls. “For that home opener, the place was hoppin’. We almost made the playoffs that year.’’

Alas, that was the only year for the Express. The Toronto ownership group packed it in. Lack of a local stake in the club was one of the reasons for the premature demise of pro lacrosse in Montreal.

“You have to have somebody from Montreal involved who really believes in it,’’ says Peter Merrill. “It would also help if they had some players from Quebec on the team to add local flavour.”

“I felt really strongly at the time about staying. I wanted it to continue. We averaged 8,000 or 9,000 a game. But we needed to be in the community a little bit more. We went into the schools and communities and I believe people were ready for a pro lacrosse team to stick around but ownership didn’t hang in long enough to keep it going.’’

A Toronto-Rochester NLL exhibition game was played in the Bell Centre last December and Peter Merrill was there to watch Pat play for the Rock. The game drew 7,269 spectators.

“It was definitely a dream come true,’’ Pat Merrill said of his first lacrosse game in his home city.  “We grew up as a huge Montreal Canadiens fans and we got to tour the Habs dressing room during that trip.”

“The crowd was very enthusiastic. They were really into it. It seemed like a knowledgeable fan base. That created a cool atmosphere for lacrosse.’’

The Nov. 17 game will give Brodie Merrill, who is the captain of the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings, the opportunity to play lacrosse in the Bell Centre for the first time.

“It’s very exciting,’’ he says.  “It’ll be really special to play in front of family and friends. It’s a rare opportunity. Being from Montreal and always having that connection to the city and to the Canadiens, it seems a little bit surreal to be going back to play lacrosse in that building. I’m very much looking forward to it.’’

Childhood memories linger.

“My dad took me to a playoff game in the Forum,’’ Brodie Merrill recalls.  “I must have been pretty young because I fell asleep during the game. There was a famous brawl between the Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers. My dad tells me I slept through the brawl.

“But I have a lot of great memories from Montreal. It’s such a great hockey city. I have a lot of great memories of playing outdoor hockey there. There’s always a reconnection I feel to the city every time I go back.’’

Pat Merrill and his kid brother knew little about lacrosse during their early years in Montreal. Hockey was on their young minds.

“We all wanted to be a Hab when we got older,’’ he says.  “Luckily for Brodie and I, we landed in Orangeville where lacrosse is so big. Going back to Montreal to play lacrosse kind of feels like going full circle for us. Our parents and Brodie and I were into sports when we lived there and to play at the pro level in the Bell Centre is pretty cool.’’

The Merrills live lacrosse daily.

Peter Merrill founded The Hill Academy, a private high school for dedicated student athletes, in 2006. Pat, now 34, Brodie, who turns 32 on Nov. 5, and younger sister Tory are lacrosse coaches at The Hill.

“I love sports,’’ Peter Merrill replied when asked why he took the risky leap into setting up the school just north of Toronto.  “The whole premise of the school is based on the reality that it is very difficult for a young person to excel in sports and academics at the same time.’’

It all seems to be working at The Hill. Lacrosse and hockey are the main sports. Enrollment has mushroomed to 150 and graduates have been placed at Canadian universities and at prominent U.S. schools. Recent grad Jason Noble (Cornell) was the No. 2 pick in the NLL entry draft on Sept. 16, and he’s joined the coaching staff at The Hill.

“We’ve got a ways to go but our mission is being accomplished,’’ says Peter Merrill.

He’d love to see the NLL return to Montreal.

“I know that in 2002 there was a sincere interest to keep the NLL in Montreal. I’ve talked to a number of groups, including ex-Canadiens who had a lacrosse background, about putting a (ownership) group together. Montreal and Quebec have really strong lacrosse roots. There is a Quebec senior league, which both Pat and Brodie have played in, and a strong Frist Nations presence in area. With the right ownership, it could be looked at again.’’

As far as international play goes, the Montreal game will be an important first step in Canada’s preparations for the 2015 world indoor tournament in Buffalo and Syracuse.  The Merrills intend to be there. Canada edged the Iroquois in the final of the last world indoor tournament, which was staged in Prague in 2011.

Dean French, chairman of Canada’s national team programs, says he’ll never forget the integral roles played by Pat and Brodie Merrill on that gold-medal team.

“There is something special about watching brothers play together at any level of sport,’’ says French.  “Seeing Patrick and Brodie win a world championship together in Prague is one of my fondest Team Canada memories.’’

“What I remember the most from that experience is how the team came together,’’ Brodie Merrill recalls.  “We had a good group of character guys.”

“When the tournament ended, we all felt like we wanted to spend more time together. It was a group that had instant chemistry from the start, and great leadership. It was a fun experience.’’

Canada’s best lacrosse players will be reunited on Nov. 17.  For more information on the event, click here.

Written by: Neil Stevens

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