Major Series Lacrosse is back and everyone is elated!
Major Series Lacrosse returned with the “MSL Classic” – a 5 week – 20 game tournament with five of the six MSL clubs participating. The MSL Classic is essentially a lacrosse tournament which allows teams to assess new prospects to their organization and an opportunity for players to show their skills and potential. After two weeks of play, the resounding response has been exceptionally positive, certainly worthy of sharing thoughts from those directly involved.
Overwhelming Positive Response
When asked “What was the impetus for staging the MSL Classic?”, Commissioner Doug Luey responded – “The return to play in 2021 was two-fold. One knowing from experience that being away from an activity for 2 years would have a major impact on getting the teams and MSL supporters back could prove difficult. Having this shortened season was extremely important for Major Series Lacrosse to stay relevant after the pandemic. The second reason is our players enthusiasm to get back to the game they are so passionate about. As soon as they heard, players were all over their teams to get back at it”.
MSL Commissioner Doug Luey
“The MSL Classic is extremely important for Major Series Lacrosse to stay relevant”
This was a sentiment echoed by others directly involved in MSL. League Governor and team owner of the Oakville Rock Jamie Dawick emphasized – “Most importantly it was about getting back to playing. We haven’t played for two seasons now and it was important for our league to resume in some format.I think two weeks in and everything is going great. We received a good buy in from the younger players and that’s what this was all about”.
Dewey Jacobs, General Manager of the Six Nations Chiefs stated – “Our organization was motivated by the idea of having a prospect event for the young players we’ve protected or drafted over the last 2 years including young free agents. The players response to this event has been overwhelming. I’m still getting calls and texts for opportunities to play. We’re trying to give everyone a chance to play. The quality of play has been good considering the time off for many of the players. I think it’s obvious from the fans who have turned out to watch the Chiefs in person and online - they have missed us and we’ve missed them”.
Steve McCarthy, General Manager of the Owen Sound Lacrosse Club offered the following assessment – “The MSL Classic has provided our club with a unique opportunity to see our protected graduating junior players and draft picks along with some free agents an opportunity to compete in a highly competitive environment. Although we had outstanding input from the likes of Brian Biesel, Dan Teat, Chris Driscoll and Jamie Dubrick organizing and providing evaluations leading up to our past two MSL drafts, getting players into game action will prove to be a great measuring stick on where we stand as an organization going forward. The MSL season is usually so condensed getting in much of a training camp is difficult and exhibition games are a thing of the past. The young players have embraced their chance to strut their stuff and the few veterans that we have worked into the line ups have provided tremendous leadership and mentor-ship. Evaluations on our young personnel can now be done on an even playing field as they compete against many of their peers from other clubs around the league. This experience has been tremendous for the players, coaches and management alike. So far, we couldn't be more pleased as the games have been highly competitive, the fan interest has been substantial and the referees have done a great job managing the games and helping out players understand some of the rule changes that have been incorporated on a trial basis this summer. Game to game has seen an improvement to the caliber of play and we have been thrilled by the intensity and work ethic demonstrated by all the players that have participated on our roster to date.
Fans glad MSL is back
It is noteworthy to realize just how much lacrosse fans had been missing watching the best lacrosse players in the world. Jamie Dawick, Owner/Operator of the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) noted “Fans have been excited about the return of lacrosse and you can see that by the ones coming out for the games and I think the quality of games and refereeing and everything has been going very smooth”. League Commissioner Doug Luey was pleased to admit, “The fan support has been above expectations for the first two weeks of play.”. Of note, there are still seats available for games in Week 3.
Players happy to be back – “It’s been great!”
And certainly, the players have missed being involved in MSL. Veteran Ryan Keenan, a pivotal player for the Brooklin Lacrosse Club did not try to hide his enthusiasm commenting – “I was excited to hear we would be able to play some lacrosse this summer. Things weren’t looking good for a while but I’m the glad the MSL was able to pull something together on short notice. I think I speak for all the guys in saying we were just happy to be back out on the floor competing when we’ve been away from the game for so long”. Ryan went onto to note, “I think the competition level has been fantastic. Everyone has some rust to shake off, but the energy has been high and it’s been a solid product out on the floor. It’s been fun out there with the BLC seeing all the young talent coming up in our game. Guys like Donville, Deaken, Inacio have been excellent and are showing they will fit in. It’s a little strange being an old guy out there at only 26 years old, but I’ve enjoyed working with some of the younger guys on offense. They all seem eager to learn and be prepared to play at the MSL level”.
Brandon Robinson with the Cobourg Kodiaks had similar sentiments noting, “I was very excited when I heard about the MSL classic and the chance to get back on the floor. I know for myself and probably majority of the guys this is the longest we’ve gone without lacrosse since we started playing. It’s a great opportunity to get back to playing the game we love. So far, it’s been great. I’m just trying to enjoy every second I get to be at the arena and get back into the swing of things. The games have been high paced which is to be expected with the talent each team has and it’s only going to make us better. I’m very grateful to be back playing the game I love and getting to see my teammates, coaches, staff, and friends from other teams again. I’m excited to continue learning and improving”.
Rookies making an Impression – "Nothing like Ontario box lacrosse!"
All of the five participating MSL clubs have a number of rookies looking to make a good enough impression to become regular players in MSL.
Justin Inacio - Face-off Specialist
One of those is Justin Inacio who is trying to crack the Brooklin Lacrosse Club roster. He last played box lacrosse in 2017 with the Burlington Chiefs. Hugely successful playing field lacrosse at Ohio State. The 5’10” face-off specialist is hopeful that he will make Brooklin. When Justin first heard about the MSL Classic, he realized what an opportunity it presented – “I am so excited to get back playing box lacrosse. I am fully in. It has been great to play with and against such high caliber players. The TRAC is a great venue. My American field lacrosse buddies are watching the live streaming of the games and they are jealous. Obviously, I hope my own play will help me earn a spot with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club”. Inacio knows his face-off skills are a key factor in determining if he lands with BLC.
Jonathan Donville - First Overall Draft in 2020
Another MSL rookie Jonathan Donville is working hard to make the Brooklin Lacrosse Club. The first overall choice in the MSL’s 2020 Entry Draft, has certainly made a good impression as he has scored 9 goals and 7 assists in Brooklin’s first two games of the Classic. Clearly, Jonathan is excited when speaking about playing – “The best part of the MSL classic is the chance to play the game that I love. The tournament is certainly a great chance for me to develop as a player, but I think the most immediate reaction was just joy and excitement about getting back on the floor. I knew it was not going to be perfect right away, but as it just felt great to play again. The MSL classic has been a great experience. Most of the rosters around the league feature a lot of young players I have played with and against for many years and that has been a really fun experience. On the floor, I feel that the competition has been extremely competitive and fast paced, so it has been a great way to sharpen the skills and get used to being back on the floor. Lastly, my teammates and coaches with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club have done a great job of making me feel comfortable, and I have learned a lot from them already. The excitement and happiness to be back competing again. There is nothing like Ontario Box Lacrosse and its great to have it back in our lives”.
Referees – Contribute to the Success – “Great to be back”
Speaking on behalf of the dozen or so official participating in the MSL Classic Brent Coulombe (one of the league’s senior officials) commented “We’re incredibly excited to be able to participate at this caliber of play in 2021. The speed and athletic ability of the players is phenomenal as the teams continue to get younger, faster and stronger. All of the games have been action-packed through the first two weeks of play. We all missed being part of the action last summer and we are thankful for the measures taken by the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre and the Major Series Lacrosse League executive to ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate in a safe environment. It is absolutely great to be back”.
Behind the Scenes – Insistence and Commitment made it happen
In regards to the behind-the-scenes activity to orchestrate the logistics required to stage the MSL Classic, Steve McCarthy summed it up appropriately, “We really would like to commend everyone that helped put the MSL Classic together. Firstly, none of this would have happened without MSL commissioner Doug Luey's insistence to make the MSL relevant this summer. Jamie Dawick's commitment to the league and moving things around on short notice at his Toronto Rock Athletic Centre to allow this event to go forward has been remarkable. And lastly, to all the clubs that have put together outstanding player rosters that have provided the fans with great entertainment and a positive vibe for players, coaches and all the other people that teams rely on to make these games happen!”
Jamie Dawick – Oakville Rock Owner/Governor
"Instrumental in the success of MSL Classic"
Commissioner Luey was quick to acknowledge the significant input of those critical to the resounding success of the MSL Classic also noting the impact of Jamie Dawick who was instrumental in making the MSL Classic happen – “We would like to thank Jamie Dawick for letting us use his world class facility (Toronto Rock Athletic Center). We have received numerous compliments regarding the webcast of the games thanks to JVI Sports Network who are doing an incredible job. At the same time, we would like to thank UnCommon Fit for supplying the teams and officials with uniforms for the MSL Classic. Great quality product and the guys just love them”.
The MSL Classic has served lacrosse in multiple ways. For teams - it is a legitimate tool to measure and assess prospects. For players - it is an opportunity to show their worth. And for lacrosse fans – the joy of watching the best lacrosse in the world - for a couple of hours three nights a week, the lacrosse world seems back to normal.
Week 3 action begins today. This week’s schedule includes:
Tuesday August 10 - Brooklin Lacrosse Club vs. Cobourg Kodiaks
Wednesday, August 11 – Brooklin Lacrosse Club vs. Oakville Rock
Wednesday, August 11 – Owen Sound Lacrosse Club vs. Cobourg Kodiaks
Thursday, August 12 – Six Nations Chiefs vs. Oakville Rock
All games have an 8:00 start time.
Reserve your game tickets by CLICKING HERE. Only $10.
Toronto Rock Athletic Centre
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