Canada Out to Win Rather Than Trying to Defend

News Release from Canadian Men’s Indoor Lacrosse Team

 Saturday, May 21, 2011

 CANADA OUT TO WIN RATHER THAN TRYING TO DEFEND

     PRAGUE _ Don’t try to tell head coach Ed Comeau that Canada’s team is here to defend a world indoor lacrosse championship.

    That’s not the case.

     “We’re not looking to defend a title,’’ he says. “We’re looking to win a title. That’s been our focus.’’

     Canada opens the third world indoor tournament against Slovakia on Sunday. Canada won the first two, in 2003 in southern Ontario and in 2007 in Halifax, and aims to make it three in a row.

   Comeau doesn’t have much of a scouting report on the Slovakians.  

   “That’s one of the challenges about these tournaments,’’ he says. “A lot of the scouting has to be done on the fly.’’

    Canada’s second game will be against Australia on Monday and then there’s a clash with England on Tuesday.

    The other pool is comprised of the Iroquois Nationals, the United States, Ireland and the host Czech Republic.

     The pool winners will play the second-place team in the other pool in the semifinals Friday.

     Canada prepped for the tournament with a 15-8 scrimmage victory over the vastly-improved Czechs on Thursday.

       “There are some very good teams here,’’ says Comeau. “There are teams that are emerging that are really trying to grow the game in their countries.

     “We’re hoping events like this are going to help both the teams that are already at the top level and the teams that are emerging. They’ll go back to their countries and help grow the game.’’

     The first two world indoor tournaments resulted in the same finish: 1. Canada, 2. Iroquois Nationals and 3. United States.

     “In short tournaments like this, we use every day, no matter who we’re playing or if we’re practising, to try to get better,’’ says Comeau. “We’ll ramp up towards the end of next week so by then we’re playing really good lacrosse.

     “That’s always a challenge in a short tournament but that is our focus.’’

     Canada won four years ago in overtime and that experience reinforced the reality that the world indoor tournament is no longer a cakewalk for Canada.

     “They’ve got a lot of creative guys who can put the ball in the net,’’ Comeau says of the Iroquois team. “They’re going to be a tough team to defend against.

     “They’ve got some natural goal scorers, some great shooters, whether it be inside or outside shots. That will be our biggest challenge with the Iroquois _ their ability to put the ball in the net. We’ll have to limit their opportunities.’’

    The Americans have a very athletic team.

     “They have a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of minutes in the NLL,’’ says Comeau. “This is the best team they’ve entered.

     “They have some phenomenal talent in Casey Powell and others that we know can score against NLL-calibre teams. We know we’ll have our hands full with them. I think they’re really going to try to use their athleticism to set themselves apart from other teams.’’

       The Czech national box lacrosse team includes a dozen players from the country’s top club team Radotin in the suburbs of Prague. It has an outdoor facility with artificial turf. It’s where Canada scrimmaged Thursday.

      “They are the Peterborough Lakers of Sr. A lacrosse in this country,’’ says Jim Veltman, the former Toronto Rock captain from Stouffville, Ontario, who is coaching the Czechs in this tournament.

     Veltman was an assistant coach of the team in Halifax and he says Czech-nurtured talent has improved since then.

     “We’re very athletic,’’ he says of the local players he’ll take into the third world indoor tournament. “We play a Canadian style _ we like the aggressiveness.

     “The things we lack are some of the nuances of the sport.’’

      Veltman also has three NLL pros at his disposal via ancestral ties: Kyle Ross of the Toronto Rock, Chet Koneczny and goalie Curtis Wagar of the Philadelphia Wings. He also can use Jamie Plunkett, who is from Peterborough but who is eligible because he has played pro hockey in the Czech Republic long enough to fulfill FIL requirements of at least two years in residence.

     Holding the tournament in the Czech Republic is a boon to the sport in Europe, says Veltman.

     “It’s what is needed if we want the sport to grow beyond North America,’’ he says. “It seems like the U.S. is moving towards developing more indoor players.

     “I don’t think you’ll find any country in Europe with as much passion for indoor lacrosse than right here. It’s just a niche they’ve developed it in this area. Just like in Canada, you have certain communities where the sport is popular. The Czech Republic reminds me a lot of Canada in that way in terms of their sporting. They are good at hockey and they like the rough and tumble kind of sports. They enjoy that, as we do in Canada.’’

     England has eight Canadians on its roster including NLL players Matt Roik and Andrew Suitor. Shawn Cable, Mike Gillan, Cayle Ratcliff, James Delaney and Chris Manwaring are the others. Head coach is Chris Hall of the NLL’s Washington Stealth.

 Team Canada media contact: Neil Stevens at loose47@live.com

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