Thursday, May 26, 2016

What has happened to Mississauga Lacrosse?

Time to peel off a few layers about me so you understand my unique place in all of this.

Many of you may know me as Sam Rook, the retired Board Referee or Sam Rook, President of Oakville Buzz. Very few of you know I have lived in Mississauga nearly my entire life and grew up wearing the Orange and Blue of the Tomahawks. When my Mississauga junior career wasn't going anywhere I became a bit of a suitcase in the junior leagues (Caledon, Milton, Brampton, Mimico) but I always gave back to Mississauga through officiating and coaching.

At the end of my playing career in 1997, I moved into coaching rep lacrosse for the Tomahawks. I started with a group of Tykes when they were 7 years old and coached them all the way until their final year of midget. During this time I became more involved in the association as first referee in chief, then Rep Director and finally a President for nearly 4 full seasons. I believe my last year as President was in 2008.

I was burned out and in need of some time away and Missy needed some new faces to take over. This ultimately led me to the Oakville Buzz, where I find myself now.

Mississauga is a wholly unique market that is unlike any other Lacrosse town in Ontario. The factors that made it such a hotbed in the 60s and 70s have completely disappeared. The demographics of the city have changed drastically as have the financials involved. Areas that were once filled with families and children and now filled with seniors whose children have grown up and moved away. I live in Clarkson and I can attest that there are huge swaths of homes with the original owners from 1964 still living there. The north of Mississauga is filled with newer homes but many of these are bought by new immigrants to Canada who have no cultural attachment to the sport...and the sport has no marketing savvy to attract them. Young families of Mississauga-raised kids moved to Oakville, Georgetown or Burlington where houses were more affordable and available.

The other issue that makes Mississauga unique is the massive overlay of 2 hockey organizations that are marketing behemoths. The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) covers AAA, AA and A hockey from Mississauga to Scarborough and up to Vaughan. On top of that, Mississauga has it's own hockey league that covers 4 levels of House League plus A-level rep teams. The freedom to move within the GTHL/MHL allows kids to play for the Marlies or Don Mills Flyers with little impediment. As players age the focus of coaches within the GTHL is to keep their players on the ice 12 months a year. Parents eat this shit up (It happens in Lacrosse too, let's not kid ourselves)but the reality is that when you are faced with a hockey bill of $5000- $10,000 a year, you are biased to continue to favour this "investment" to see some sort of return out of it.

The mix of the two factors above weakens Mississauga Lacrosse and makes it a very tough place to gain traction to develop players, coaches and volunteers. Mimico Lacrosse has always done a great job of connecting with their "small community in the big city" target market to maintain their program. Oakville Lacrosse has risen on the power of long-term dedicated volunteers and strong committment from a number of people to offer great coaching and facilities to attract players.

Mississauga has lurched from regime to regime over many years with whole swaths of volunteers departing all at once. When I see the names of their board members I recognize only 1 person that was involved only 8 years ago. I see no one that can explain the long and storied history of Mississauga Lacrosse to people. Everyone knows John Tavares is from Mississauga but few, if any, know Neil Dodderidge, Ted Dowling, John and Joe Rosa, the McMahons and Sandersons all have strong connections to Mississauga Lacrosse. Mary Rosa and Carol Wannamaker gave years of their lives to ensure that Mississauga Lacrosse would survive in the early 80s. Jack Wilson ran the Junior A franchise for so long he probably had orange blood. The list can go on and on.

Now we are here, where a guy named Kevin Johnston and his idea of "Select Lacrosse" has turned everyone on their heads. It makes me question a lot of things;

1- What is really wrong with house leaguers playing games against house leaguers from neigbouring towns? If everyone is for it then let's give some freedom for it to happen. You are always allowed to say no. We need to get over our obsession with "the way it has always been done" and open our minds to need ideas. Of course, the current rules are not set up to allow it but that is an easy amendment to discuss and vote on in November.

2- I have known Wendy Bennet-Costante for many years. She is a principled and fair person but will be tough when she needs to be. As Zone Director she had every right to investigate concerns raised about Missy House League per the OLA Bylaws.

3- What in the hell goes through the minds of some people to write a long diatribe and post it online (yes, I get the irony) using harsh, accusatory language? Worse, it was as if he was writing officially for the MTLA. Was his letter approved by their board before going online? If so, they should all take a hard look at their culpability in this whole mess. If not, they should be working to immediately remove Mr. Johnston from his position and find a capable adult to finish the season.
(letter here: )

4- perhaps we need a SAGM module on the implications of Insurance vs non-Insurance. I can run it quite well so everyone understands when they are covered and when they are not covered. This is very important because insurance is a sinkhole of costs UNTIL the time you actually need it because someone got injured and now your ass is getting sued.

So in closing, Kevin, if you ever read this I implore you to stop being such an asshat. Take your medicine now and work to properly change the rules at the OLA AGM in November (I'll save you some time after my 412 amendments-haha).

Years of dedication to lacrosse in Mississauga by many volunteers before you are being thrown out the window because you cannot simply adjust to the current way and work positively with people. You are getting attacked online from many different lax people, some of it brought on by yourself and some of it unfair. Take a timeout. It is only serving to make you look more like an intractable loon that is digging a hole for no reason.

Call and apologize to Wendy. I am sure she will be happy to have a constructive conversation with you about your idea. She should also apologize to you. It's what adults do...they move past shit.

Running unsanctioned games without carded officials is exposing you, the Tomahawks association, the City of Mississauga and all the players, coaches and trainers to serious legal risk. This exposure would be enough to wipe out the Association and likely be the death knell for the sport in a market with enough cards stacked against it already.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 OLA Jr A Season Preview

Do to some non-lacrosse stuff we are way behind on this but as they always say...better late than never!

Its a condensed version Season Preview

2014 might be the year where everything finally turns on its head and parity comes to the fore. Last year's Minto Champion, Whitby Warriors have lost a truckload and the Six Nations Arrows have also lost their fair share to graduation so could this leave the door open for the Bramptons of the league to sneak by?

Remember the last Excelsiors Ontario Title? It was 20 years ago. With a big trade to pick up Zach Herreweyers from the Lakers, the Maroon faithful are certainly hoping for an end to the drought.

Will they do it? We do not know. But LLB expects this to be a crazy and wide open year with at least five contenders....each with a glaring question mark to still answer.

Predicted Order of Finish
1- Six Nations
2- Brampton
3- Whitby
4- Peterborough
5- Burlington
6- Barrie
7- Orangeville
8- Beaches
9- KW
10- St. Catharines
11- Mississauga

1- Six Nations
Regular season Johnny P is great. Playoff Powless needs to seize control of a series and never let go.
New Staats not yet as good as the old Staats.
Alton has good stats but can he handle full time role?

2- Brampton
Zach Herreweyers was solid pickup to help their O but did he peak in 2012 or was he poorly utilized by Peterborough last year?
Can a team that takes a lot of penalties be a true title contender now?
An older team making the push in a wide open league and it will likely come down to untested goalie, Kevin Flanigan.

3- Whitby
Lost a lot to graduation but smartly have enough developed that should help them pull out some close games.
Reilly O'Connor still top 2 player in Jr A...which helps a lot.
Their Minto experience will bode well come playoff time.

4- Peterborough
Maybe we are drinking the Kool-Aid again but a team this talented eventually has to figure it out....right?
No matter where they finish (and they have widest possible range of expectations) they are always a tough team to beat in playoffs.
They have the talent but do they have discipline and goaltending to do it?

5- Burlington
Buchan in net is ready to step up as best goalie in the league so they will be tough to score on.
Loss of Corbett and Ruest srings...they need another player to go parabolic in scoring like Dan Lomas did last year.....those do not happen too often.
Do not think they will repeat last years great regular season record but also believe they are now better fit for playoff noise

6- Barrie
The best of the rest. Lots of talent up front but still shakey enough at back and in net.

7- Orangeville
No Sawyer for first time in years on the bench
Will be their usual gritty Northmen but this is a learning year for their youthful roster

8- Beaches
Flipped a coin between Beach boys and KW and may regret it with KW having better backend

9- KW
Lots of Cloutier and Jackson but Orleman in net will be key to playoff question.

10- St. Catharines
Will be better but still far from playoff contention

11- Mississauga
Rumours of two attempts to transfer the team being shot down at league meetings and departure of GM means another year of losses for the Tomahawks.

Watch for Nations, Brampton to be the favourites to make final. Both have enough question marks that Whitby, Burlington and Peterborough all have great chances to break through. We will go with Brampton as our preseason choice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lacrosse: Canada's First Game

We have been bantering around some random thoughts on the topic of improving Lacrosse for the better. Obviously everyone has their own "Big picture" ideas and realistically, very few of them will happen because this sport changes at a sub-glacial pace.

There has been an interesting discussion recently on the Unofficial OLA Fan Forum (the wild, wild west of Lacrosse fandom) about promoting the sport beyond the traditional communities (mostly caucasian and natives) in Ontario. You can follow everything here if you want to catch up to speed:

Ron Messer is right. We don't do a bad job of marketing to new immigrant communities...we don't do the job AT ALL. The core GTA is one huge market in Canada and recent statistics show that more and more immigrants are settling in this area and yet we have failed to even attempt to bring them out to Lacrosse. It's not a failure of promotion, it is that we have not even tried...which is even worse.

I have a good friend who was born in Hong Kong but has lived in Canada since he was a toddler. I worked him hard to come watch a game. It took a few years but he finally relented and showed up to a Junior B game I was coaching. He even brought his oldest son. They both enjoyed the game and could see the merits of playing or being a fan. His son has not played and they have not been to a game since then but no sport is for "every person". The real key is what he said to me a few weeks after. When I asked what he thought he mentioned "All I saw were white people and no other races. The game is great but when you are new to a country you search out for some comfort in seeing people "like" you."

Here we are sitting with a marketing plan to a dwindling proportion of the populace (Toronto now over 50% non-caucasian). It is nice to have pie but over time our slice of the pie gets smaller and smaller all because we CHOOSE to limit our market. We CHOOSE to limit our growth. Maybe it is time we CHOOSE to make a change and be encouraging of participation from new Canadians to the greatest game of Canada.

So join us in this new movement. We've coined a new marketing slogan for the game "Lacrosse: Canada's First Game" to replace "The Fastest Game on Two Feet" which has been used for over 30 years now. If you speak another language, translate the new slogan and post it in the comments below or tweet it out with the hashtag #newlaxslogan. We will RT everyone who uses it.

The onus for promoting the game does not fall on the governing body, it falls on everyone who participates in the game. The goal is to have 3% of registrations from visible minorities by 2020. A few hundred more players means a few thousand more fans of the game.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Unofficial OLA Jr A Draft order

We've done some work tracking down traded picks and here is the unofficial draft order for the OLA Jr A Draft to be held later in January. With the player movement freeze lifted in the new year expect lots of movement heading into the draft.

We will do some work and hope to be able to bring you live draft action this year but negotiations have yet to fully begin so don't get too excited. Regardless, we will do our best to bring you all the draft results as fast as possible.

Round 1
1. Six Nations (from Mississauga via Burlington)
2. Whitby (from St. Catharines via Brampton)
3. Toronto
4. Brampton (from KW via Missy)
5. Barrie
6. Peterborough
7. Orangeville
8. Mississauga (from Brampton via Burlington and St. Catharines)
9. KW (from Burlington)
10. Burlington (from Whitby via St. Catharines)
11. St. Catharines (from Six Nations)

Round 2
12. Brampton (from Mississauga via Peterborough and St. Catharines)
13. Burlington (from St. Catharines)
14. Toronto
15. Mississauga (from KW via St. Catharines)
16. Barrie
17. St. Catharines (from Peterborough)
18. St. Catharines (from Orangeville via Mississauga and Six Nations)
19. KW (from Brampton via St. Catharines and Whitby)
20. Six Nations (from Burlington)
21. St. Catharines (from Whitby)
22. Six Nations

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ontario Junior A Final Preview

After a blitz of a season we end up with the top two teams in the regular season battling for a trip to New Westminster, BC and a shot at the Minto Cup. It's Whitby vs Six Nations just like we all predicted in the preseason (ok maybe not all of us)

Here are some keys to watch:

For the Arrows-
1- Can their defense/goaltending hold up?
After springing leaks against KW in the opening round, Six Nations tightened the screws on the Peterborough Lakers in round 2, holding Turner Evans and Co to 7 goals per game. Whitby's fast break presents a difficult task and the Arrows will need some big stops by Warren Hill and Don Alton.

2-Powless: The man, the myth...the legend?
In our season preview we wrote that Powless and Randy Staats would only be judged by how they fare in this series. Powless has been a force all playoffs long. For him to become a legend of the game, he needs to take over this series much like Jeremy Noble did for Orangeville in 2012.

For the Warriors-
1- The Buque Wall.
Alexis Buque was a deserving choice as best goaltender in 2013 and he needs to be every bit the best goalie for Whitby to win this series. If he outplays the Arrows duo, Whitby wins this series going away. If the Arrows goaltending can match Buque, then BC should prepare for the JP93 experience.

2- Been there, done that
The big guns of this Warriors team have been to two straight Minto Cups (admittedly as hosts in 2012) and will carry a sizeable advantage in big game experience because of it. If Whitby can keep their composure in the cauldron that is the ILA and steal an early road win, they have the know how to book a third Minto Cup berth.

Best guesstimate:
Do we go with the best player in Jr A (sorry BC guys like Wes Berg) in Johnny Powless or the experienced Warriors? Will the final matchup of Warren Hill and Alexis Buque (both 1992 born players who have battled since Tyke) be an epic battle or a one-sided mismatch? Have we spent our entire preview without mentioning Reilly O'Connor, Curtis Knight, Dan Lintner, Michael MacDonald, Josh Johnson, Vaughan Harris and Brendan Bomberry? (yes, all of them are excellent players in their own right and well worth the price of admission).
Our estimate is that this series will turn on Game 3's result. We'll take the experienced and on fire Warriors to win this in 6...warily. This is really too close to call.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Your 2013 Ontario Junior A All Stars and Award Winners

Congratulations to the below All Stars and Award winners. The selections below all had incredible years and were very deserving of being honoured.

First All Star Team
Goalie: Alexis Buque- Whitby Warriors
Def: Derek Searle- Burlington Chiefs
Def: Graeme Hossack- Whitby Warriors
Off: Johnny Powless- Six Nations Arrows
Off: Dhane Smith- KW Braves
Off: Turner Evans- Peterborough Lakers

Second All Star Team
Goalie: Doug Buchan- Burlington Chiefs
Def: Austin Divitcos- Orangeville Northmen
Def: Nick Weiss- Peterborough Lakers
Off: Curtis Knight- Whitby Warriors
Off: Randy Staats- Six Nations Arrows
Off: Rob Hellyer- Orangeville Northmen

Robert Melville Award (Lowest Goals Against Avg- Goalies)
Don Alton and Warren Hill- Six Nations Arrows

Bobby Allan Award (Scoring Leader)
Dhane Smith- KW Braves

Joe Nieuwendyk Award (Rookie)
Dallas Bridle- Orangeville Northmen

Gus McCauley Award (Defensive Player)
Derek Searle- Burlington Chiefs

Gaylord Powelss Award (Sportsmanlike)
Rob Hellyer- Orangeville Northmen

Jim Veltman Award (Outstanding Player)
Johnny Powless- Six Nations Arrows

Jim Bishop Award (Coaching Staff)
Barrie Lakeshores- Lindsay Sanderson, Jim Rankin, Nate Sanderson and Brandon Ree

Sanderson Memorial Award (Outstanding Goalie)
Alexis Buque- Whitby Warriors

Dennis McIntosh Award (Most Valuable Player)
Johnny Powless- Six Nations Arrows

Monday, July 15, 2013

ON Jr A Expanded Standings- Season Ending Edition

It was a quick turn around from the final games on Friday to the first playoff games on Sunday but here is the end of season Expanded Standings for the Ontario Jr A league.

Some Notes:

10 goals was the key to victory this year. Teams that held their opponent under 10 goals won 94 games out of 110, an astonishing 85% of games. Each team in the league won at least 1 game when holding the opponent under 10 goals...yes Mississauga's lone win qualified.

Six Nations was the only team to score 100 goals in a single period this season (101 in the second period). The next highest goals for in a period was Orangeville's 82 in first periods this year.

The KW Braves played 21 games this year. Well not really but their 6 overtime games is the equivalent of one extra game. They finished 0-5-1 in those overtime games.

A late scoring binge pushed the league to over 19 total goals per game this year (19.17 to be exact).

Six Nations, Whitby, Burlington and Brampton were a combined 56-0 when leading after the second period. The same four teams were 1-17-1 when trailing after the second period.

Now onto the final Expanded Standings for 2013

Team W L T Pts GF GA Home H GF H GA Away A GF A GA OT
Six Nations Arrows 17 3 0 34 243 141 9-1 124 62 8-2 119 79 1-0
Whitby Warriors 15 5 0 30 223 147 9-1 121 67 6-4 102 80
Burlington Chiefs 14 5 1 29 225 176 8-2 134 86 6-3-1 91 90 1-0-1
Brampton Excelsiors 13 7 0 26 216 195 7-3 116 99 6-4 100 96
Orangeville Northmen 12 8 0 24 212 187 6-4 102 88 6-4 110 99 1-1
Peterborough Lakers 11 9 0 22 229 192 6-4 119 90 5-5 110 102
Barrie Lakeshores 10 10 0 20 186 191 5-5 97 93 5-5 89 98 3-0
KW Braves 7 12 1 15 184 190 2-7-1 84 89 5-5 100 101 0-5-1
Toronto Beaches 6 14 0 12 164 215 2-7 84 107 4-6 80 108
St. Catharines Athletics 3 17 0 6 113 209 1-9 61 105 2-8 52 104
Mississauga Tomahawks 1 19 0 2 114 266 0-10 61 120 1-9 53 146

Team 2 G or less 3G or more v.500+= v.500- GF 1 GA 1 GF 2 GA 2 GF 3 GA 3 GF OT GA OT
Six Nations Arrows 1-2 16-1 9-3 7-0 75 41 101 54 64 44 3 2
Whitby Warriors 2-3 13-2 8-3 7-1 71 44 79 58 73 45 0 0
Burlington Chiefs 3-1-1 11-4 7-5-1 6-0 72 52 79 64 71 59 3 1
Brampton Excelsiors 5-3 8-4 7-5 6-2 72 59 78 71 66 65 0 0
Orangeville Northmen 4-2 8-6 5-8 6-0 82 71 64 60 62 53 4 3
Peterborough Lakers 2-3 9-6 4-6 6-3 78 62 81 64 70 66 0 0
Barrie Lakeshores 5-3 5-7 3-9 6-1 52 71 79 59 49 59 6 2
KW Braves 2-5-1 5-7 2-7-1 5-3 60 70 72 66 48 42 4 12
Toronto Beaches 3-2 3-12 2-10 4-2 60 71 62 78 42 66 0 0
St. Catharines Athletics 0-2 3-15 1-12 2-4 38 73 36 84 39 52 0 0
Mississauga Tomahawks 1-2 0-17 0-15 1-4 37 83 36 109 41 74 0 0

Team Ld 2L-L5 Ld 3+- L5 Tr 2L-L5 Tr 3+ -L5 T-L5 Ld 1st Ld 2nd Tr 1st Tr 2nd Opp >=10 Opp <10 td="">
Six Nations Arrows 1-1 15-0 0-2 0-1 1-1 12-1 17-0 1-2 0-2 2-2 15-1
Whitby Warriors 2-0 12-0 1-3 0-2 1-0 11-0 14-0 2-2 0-4 0-2 15-3
Burlington Chiefs 5-0 11-0 1-1-1 0-4 2-1 12-0 14-0 0-3-1 0-5-1 2-5 12-0-1
Brampton Excelsiors 5-1 10-0 0-2 0-3 2-2 11-1 11-0 0-4 1-6 3-7 10-0
Orangeville Northmen 7-1 5-0 0-1 0-6 2-2 9-1 9-1 2-6 1-7 2-8 10-0
Peterborough Lakers 2-1 10-0 0-4 0-7 0-1 8-1 10-2 0-6 0-7 2-8 9-1
Barrie Lakeshores 2-0 5-0 3-6 0-8 4-0 5-0 7-0 4-8 1-9 3-9 7-1
KW Braves 2-2-1 5-0 0-4 0-6 0-5 4-2-1 7-0-1 1-8 0-9 1-9 6-3-1
Toronto Beaches 3-0 4-0 1-3 0-11 1-1 3-3 5-1 2-9 1-12 0-11 6-3
St. Catharines Athletics 1-0 3-0 0-3 0-15 0-0 2-1 3-1 1-14 0-16 0-12 3-5
Mississauga Tomahawks 1-0 0-0 0-2 0-16 0-0 0-3 0-0 0-15 1-19 0-17 1-2