MANCHESTER, England _ Canadian defenceman Mac Allen is looking good on and off the lacrosse field.
The 25-year-old Torontonian, who aims to help Canada retain the title during the world tournament that begins Thursday, has been showing in practices and exhibition games that he’s to be feared by opposing attackers.
He’s tough. He’s also smart.
Allen is a graduate of Upper Canada College, he has a marketing degree from Bishop’s University where he played field lacrosse for four years, and he has completed one year at the University of Windsor’s law school.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,’’ he says. “I took two years off after undergrad and decided I’d better go back now or I won’t go back.’’
So, what intrigues him about the law?
“Knowing what’s right and what’s wrong,’’ he replies. “It’s good to know what you can get away with.’’
Allen can’t seem to get enough lacrosse.
“The physicality and the commaradarie of the guys,’’ he replies when asked what draws him to the sport. “It’s a pretty tight-knit community.’’
Allen commuted to Rochester, N.Y., to play indoors last winter for that city’s National Lacrosse League team, the Knighthawks, and he’s pounding opponents this summer for the Peterborough Lakers in the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Major Series.
Indoor, outdoor _ it doesn’t matter to him. He’s adaptable.
“This is my first time with a long pole,’’ he says. “I’m used to playing defence with just a three-foot stick. It’s a little easier having the extra three feet.’’
What, easier to club guys?
“Yea, it’s pretty hard to get beat (by an opposing forward) when you’ve got a six-foot stick,’’ he says.
He has one word to describe himself as a player.
“Fun,’’ he says, chuckling all the while.
Opposing forwards would call him anything but fun.
“I’m not too friendly with guys I play against,’’ he admits.
He plays against Canada teammate Phil Sanderson (Brampton Excelsiors OLA, Toronto Rock NLL) most of the year.
“He’s all heart,’’ says Sanderson. “He gives 100 per cent every shift he’s out there.
“He’s a warrior. He battles. You know when he’s out there because guys he’s checking are shaking a hand or getting whacked or brushing off something because he battles. He makes the other team hesitant in what it’s doing because they’re thinking about him coming across and slashing them.’’
Mark Steenhuis is a teammate of Allen’s with Canada and in Peterborough this summer but the two are bitter opponents in the NLL as Steenhuis attacks for the Buffalo Bandits during the winter.
“I usually grow my hair out just like his for our first NLL game, then we fight, and then I cut my hair so he can have his schtick back,’’ says Allen.
Talking about hair, Allen showed up for breakfast Wednesday morning with a rather extraordinary cut. It’s longish on the sides, same as it was Tuesday, but the top of his head had been shaved smooth as a golf green.
“Well, last night my barber, Billy Dee (Smith) decided to give me a creative look so we went with this one,’’ Allen explains. “I think it fits in over here. It’s the Friar Tuck.’’
Allen claims Smith did not use scissors.
“He used an industrial-strength lawn mower on my head.’’
Sanderson says he’s in awe of Allen’s new look.
“I hope it sticks for him because it’s definitely a fashion statement,’’ he offers.
Meanwhile, Allen would never say he’s the best D-man on the squad for the simple reason that Brodie Merrill is in the lineup.
“I think we all just try to watch what he does and do as best we can to emulate him. He’s kind of changed the position, which says a lot for a guy who’s pretty young.’’
Things appear to be falling into place.
“We’re pretty good,’’ says Allen. “We’ve only been here a couple of days but everyone gets along _ so far.’’
Canada opens the tournament against Japan on Friday.
“It’ll be fun to get out of these two-a-days and really whack some guys,’’ says Allen.
Lacrosse gets only a fraction of the coverage mainstream media lavishes on most other sports but the players never seem to get hung up on that fact.
“Well, I mean, it’s starting to get a little bigger,’’ says Allen. “We’ve got more games on TV now and that’s a big help. What can you really do?’’
The best field players in the world are here but an autograph hound has yet to be sighted.
“It doesn’t matter to me,’’ says Allen. “And I play defence so it really doesn’t matter to me.’’
Neil Stevens, Team Canada media contact.