Skip to content

Lacrosse is back: BCJALL hopes new schedule, new rules and new arena will reignite fans after two-year pandemic pause

The BC Junior A Lacrosse League season begins May 13 with a game between the Port Coquitlam Saints and the Burnaby Lakers.
0512-BCJALLPreviewFile 1w
The BC Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) is back on the floor after two seasons lost to the the COVID-19 pandemic. The league has implemented new rules to speed play, and a shorter schedule to allow more players to get back from commitments at U.S. schools.

The BC Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) is hoping less means more.

The eight-team circuit that includes the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs and Port Coquitlam Saints is returning to the floor after two years absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a shorter schedule that starts about a month later than usual.

New commissioner Dirk Rachfall said the change is to give the players and fans a better chance to enjoy the best lacrosse possible.

With its traditional mid-April commencement, some teams were left scrambling to fill roster spots with affiliate players from Junior 'B' and other leagues as they awaited the return of regulars from their commitments to U.S. college programs.

"Starting later lets us have more players available right from the start of the season," said Rachfall, who succeeded former commissioner Karl Christiansen in January.

He added having all the best players on the floor right from the get-go pushes everyone around them to be their best as well, improving the level of competition and player development across the board.

They'll also be playing under several new rules designed to speed play and add excitement, like an eight-second time limit to move the ball out of the defensive end, as well as a sudden-death overtime period to break ties in regular season games.

Still, challenges remain.

Rachfall said getting the league back in gear after being sidelined for the better part of two seasons — minus a brief campaign of regional games last summer when COVID-19 infection rates subsided — has proven a monumental task.

"Some people have moved on to other activities, some aren’t willing or able to be in a crowded public setting," he said. "It takes a lot of people to put a lacrosse season together, and getting all those people back together has been something we’ve had to keep a close eye on to make sure we’re not overextending ourselves."

Players in particular were affected by the pandemic pause. Some aged out of junior with two fewer years of development than many of the players they’ll be competing with for positions in the Western Lacrosse Association. Others are heading into their final years of junior eligibility without the foundation they should have been building in their first couple of seasons.

Business operations have also been impacted.

Rachfall said the toll the pandemic took on sponsors, some of whom have scaled back or pulled out completely, means budgets will be have to watched closely. At the same time, the league also has to work harder to reconnect with its supporters.

"There is a balancing act to be had between finding new initiatives and ideas while making sure we use our time and budgets as effectively as we can," Rachfall said.

One bright light is the PoCo Saints’ move from the dingy confines of the old Port Coquitlam Rec Centre into the spectator arena at the city’s new $132-million community centre (PCCC).

Rachfall said the coming campaign presents a unique opportunity for the BCJALL to reinvigorate the “mechanics” of a regular season as a launching pad to a bigger and better future. A case in point was the culmination of last summer’s brief exhibition season that saw the grandstand at Coquitlam’s Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex packed for a final showdown between the Jr. Adanacs and the Burnaby Lakers.

"We want to make sure we use that momentum and keep it going into future seasons," he said.

The 2022 BCJALL season begins May 13 with the PoCo Saints hosting the Burnaby Lakers at the PCCC with opening face-off at 8 p.m.