CLax game review: Oshweken 18 @ Iroquois 15

The number of non-NLL lacrosse games I’ve been to is rather small – I listed them all in this post about an MLL game last summer. On Saturday I added one to this list: my first CLax game. This was the second season opener for the league, and was a rematch of last year’s championship game – the champion Oshweken Demons against the Iroquois Ironmen. The game was at the ILA (Iroquois Lacrosse Arena) near Hagersville Ontario, the home arena for both teams. For this game, the Ironmen were considered the home team and actually had more fans cheering for them.

If you’re used to watching lacrosse in a small arena with no music playing, you’ll feel right at home at a CLax game. But if, like myself, you’re more used to the pomp and circumstance of the NLL, it might be a bit of a shock. There is no music. There are no cheerleaders. There weren’t thousands of fans there; in fact there weren’t even one thousand fans there. They didn’t do the wave. There were no dancing peanuts or commercials or “Let’s Get LOUD!” or kiss cam on the video board. Actually, there was no video board. If any or all of those things are necessary for you to enjoy a lacrosse game, better steer clear of CLax.

But if you just want to watch a fast-paced box lacrosse game, you could certainly do worse. The game didn’t look significantly different from an NLL game – lots of action and ball movement, and I thought there was even less standing around waiting for O/D changes than in the NLL. One of the interesting rules in CLax is that players must enter the floor using the bench door furthest from their goaltender. Quite honestly, I didn’t really notice this all that much except when looking for it. I did notice (actually, my son noticed) that the goaltenders switched ends after the first and third quarters but not after the second, so the Demons goalie was to our right during the first and fourth, not the first and third.

The Demons got off to a strong start, leading 5-0 in the first and 11-5 at the half. It seemed like it might be a rout but the Ironmen clawed their way back into it and got within three a couple of times, but that was as close as it got. But in the end, the Demons were just too strong and took the victory 18-15. Oshweken teammates Wayne VanEmery and former Buffalo Bandit Roger Vyse scored a bunch, as did the Ironmen’s Chris Attwood who was last year’s CLax MVP. Attwood was everywhere – not only at the offensive end, but there were a couple of transition attempts by the Demons that were scuttled by Attwood racing down the floor on D.

The goalie for the Demons, Jeff Powless, looked almost unbeatable in the first half. He was a little more human in the second, but still pretty impressive. The Demons, oddly, had three goaltenders dressed for the game, though one wasn’t wearing a Demons jersey.

Other games notes:

  • For NLL fans, there were a number of familiar names: Roger and Holden Vyse, Travis Hill, Cory Bomberry, Cody Jacobs, Delby Powless, and of course CLax deputy commissioner Jim Veltman.
  • The Ironmen’s first goal was beautiful. Chancey Johnson deked his way inside in front of the net. With only one defender left to get by, he stepped next to him, gave him a hard shoulder check that knocked him flat, and then buried the shot.
  • I don’t know if the faceoff rules are different from the NLL or if the players taking the faceoffs were very evenly matched, but faceoffs seemed either instant (usually because the whistle was blown right away and someone awarded the ball) or took 15-20 seconds with both teams hovering around the two faceoff guys who had trapped the ball between them and weren’t moving.
  • I was sitting in the middle of the arena, right across from the Demon bench, and got ZERO internet signal. We went out to get snacks at halftime and had no troubles out there, but back at our seats, nothing. This is a serious problem that the arena folks need to address. I believe this is the main reason the Rock built the TRAC rather than have their practices at the ILA.
  • None of the refs was wearing a helmet. Having seen refs take shots to the head, this amazed me. The refs know how hard the ball is, right? And they know how fast it goes, right? So, like, dude, WTF? I wouldn’t dream of stepping on that floor during play without a helmet. I was sure that NLL refs all wore helmets, but it turns out they don’t either, or at least most of them don’t. I don’t understand this at all.