A new west coast division of an Ontario-based minor lacrosse league could create new opportunities for junior and senior players from the Coquitlam Adanacs and Port Coquitlam Saints organizations.
It could even have a trickle-down effect to fire further interest in the minor game, says Garrett Ungaro, a vice-president with the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs.
Ungaro said the establishment of four new teams in the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL) to play out of the Langley Events Centre beginning in December will provide options for current and graduating Junior A and B1 players to further develop their skills in the wintertime circuit while gaining exposure to teams in the National Lacrosse League (NLL), North America’s top pro box lacrosse league that includes the Vancouver Warriors.
He added the winter schedule will also keep those players who don’t opt to head south on field lacrosse scholarships active in the game.
“Any time they can keep a stick in their hands, stay active in the winter, it helps their development,” Ungaro said. “I think this will only help them develop the skills needed at the pro level.”
The ALL is entering its fifth season of operation with seven teams in Ontario, including:
- Oshawa Outlaws
- Paris Riverwolves
- Peterborough Timbermen
- Six Nations Snipers
- St. Catharines Shockwave
- Toronto Monarchs
- Whitby Steelhawks
The circuit is an official minor affiliate of the NLL, and, according to ALL president Paul St. John, about 15 per cent of its players played at least one game in his league.
NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said expanding the ALL to the west will give more players the opportunity to develop their skills to take the next step in their lacrosse careers.
“Growth at the minor league level is vital and will only enhance and complement the current NLL talent pool,” he said in a press release.
Ungaro said much of that pool currently comes from the east, where most of the NLL teams are based and are better situated to scout players in Ontario. Having the ALL in the west will provide a conduit for local players to catch the attention of NLL general managers.
As well, arrival of the new winter league could create marketing and cross-promotion opportunities for leagues like the BC Junior 'A' Lacrosse League (BCJALL) to bring more attention to the game and even attract more kids to youth lacrosse.
“Any new lacrosse leagues bring attention to the game if marketing is done right,” he said.
The four ALL West teams will play at least a 12-game regular season that’s scheduled to begin Dec. 11, with a championship weekend set for March 26 and 27. A draft of registered players 18 years of age and older will be held Nov. 20 with training camps opening a week later.
Potential players must register for the draft online at arenalacrosseleague.ca.