From Canadian Men’s Indoor Lacrosse Team
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
JEFF MOLESKI HAS COME A LONG WAY
PRAGUE _ The world indoor lacrosse tournament is a big step up from playing defence last summer for the Westwood Sports Pub Bandits in his home town of Prince George, B.C., but Jeff Moleski can handle it.
He got ready for the challenge by playing for the NLL’s Washington Stealth this year and helping them to the NLL pro final in Toronto on May 15. He was in the capital of the Czech Republic three days later as a member of Canada’s team, which went 3-0 in pool play to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
And it all started with the Bandits.
Moleski had played hockey and baseball growing up in Prince George, which is more than 800 kilometres north of Vancouver, and when he was 14 his dad, Pat Moleski, bought him a lacrosse stick at the local Canadian Tire outlet. He joined a bantam team and pondering quitting after midget because there was no junior team but he was encouraged to continue by his twin brother, Adam.
At age of 16, he joined the Bandits in a Sr. C-level league in Prince George. Then Dave Jenkins started up a Jr. B team and Moleski was playing for both that team and the Bandits when he was 19.
“That’s kind of where I first got noticed,’’ he says. “I was scouted by Calgary and got drafted and made the team.’’
Moleski was a third-round pick, 34th overall, by the Roughnecks in the 2003 NLL entry draft. Most other teams didn’t know about him so the ‘Necks bided their time before calling his name. He was in his fifth season with them in 2009 when they defeated a now-defunct New York team to win the NLL championship.
“It was awesome,’’ he says. “It’s something I’ll cherish the rest of my life.’’
He continued to play for the Bandits during summers. So, he went from winning a pro title to checking Shooters Pub opponents in a matter of days. They weren’t all pushovers either.
“You know what, there are some solid players in the league,’’ he says.
He says he might not play for the Bandits this summer because it has been a long season of lacrosse going to the NLL final and now playing for Canada.
“This has been great,’’ he says of being in Canada’s lineup. “It’s a dream come true.
“Ever since being a kid watching hockey, you always want to play for your country. It’s been a tremendous experience.’’
The only drawback is that he has to spend two weeks away from his wife, Cara, and their two boys, Jackson, 4, and Hunter, who turns 3 in July.
“This is my longest time away from them,’’ he says. “I usually do a couple of week-long hunting trips each year but this is the longest stint away and it’s been tough, to be honest with you.
“ It’s a long time for me to be gone from the family. My boys are my pride and joy.’’
He hunts moose, elk and deer. He’s hunting opposing forwards this week.
As fate would have it, good friend Brett Doig, a former captain of the Bandits, is in Prague helping coach Slovakia’s team, and he’s also playing in a masters tournament that is being staged in conjunction with the world tournament.
Moleski, 29, works in Prince George for a natural gas company, Fortis B.C., installing gas lines, changing meters and fixing hit gas lines, while Doig works at a Prince George pulp mill.
The long commute to NLL games each winter and spring is time consuming but he loves the competition and the commaraderie with teammates. The Stealth lost the final in Toronto 8-7. He aims to be ready to go full-tilt next season.
“We want to get back to the championship game,’’ he said. “We’ve got a great group of guys.’’
Stealth teammates Rhys Duch of Victoria, Tyler Richards of Vancouver and Jeff Zywicki of Ottawa are on Canada’s team, too.
Prague is a 1,000-year-old city and he’s taking in as much as he can in any free time he gets.
“We’ve been blessed with the weather,’’ he says. “It’s been tremendous. All the history and the old buildings and stuff, it’s definitely a special place to visit.’’
He’s come a long way.
He throws out a heartfelt hello to his family and friends back home.
MOURADIAN REMEMBERS THE WALL
Moleski isn’t the only member of Team Canada with a Prince George connection. GM Johnny Mouradian, who is from St. Catharines, Ont., was recruited along with four others from Ontario to play for the Old Stylers.
“We loved it out there,’’ Mouradian recalls.
His goalie was Jenkins. They called him The Wall. He’s a Prince George lawyer now. Bill Woodcock, another one of the recruits, stayed and he works for the city parks department with Zamboni driving among his responsibilities.
“One of the guys we played against was George Prince,’’ says Mouradian. “Imagine, meeting somebody named George Prince from Prince George.’’
TEAM CANADA media contact: Neil Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org