Aleš Hrebeský Memorial Tournament: The All-Star evening, championship game and thinking about next year already
[Editor's note: Sean Gibson has twice represented Ireland at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. He blogged daily from the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial tournament in Prague.]
For those of you who have not attended the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial you are completely unaware of what you’re missing. Whether you are a player, avid fan or lax addict, the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial is an experience you have to put on your lax bucket list.
Despite the smooth organisation, planning and professionalism of the host LCC-Radotin club, it normally takes the third night before you understand how much work really goes on. The third night of the tournament is the All-Stars vs Czech Nationals played under the lights. The All-Stars team is made up of non-Czech born players that usually play on one of the non-Czech teams. This year’s Czech Nationals was a very young U-23 side with a few seasoned veterans.
As a player in my 6th All-star game, I can tell you it’s an experience I never forget. The place is buzzing, you have the smells of the grill just off the field, lights are on, you just know whether you’re a fan, player, or official that you’re in for something special.
The night starts out as the two teams walk out and go through their respective warm-ups. Each player is then introduced by an on-field announcer. The Czech National Anthem is sung and then it’s game time. At each intermission there are competitions held like fastest runner, shooting accuracy, fastest shot and trick shots. This year the Czech Team defeated the all-stars by a score of 8-6. But the night wasn’t done once the game was over. The lights were dimmed and the players and fans were treated to a breath taking display put on by fire dancers.
If that wasn’t enough, the final day of the tournament has a full slate of games including the championship final, which I was honoured to call live with my friend Bodhan Fuka. This year’s final saw a much improved Boston Megamen team play a very strong LCC-Radotin side.
The game started out well for the hosts as they scored first. A four-goal run by Boston ruined any chance of LCC-Radotin catching up. As I mentioned last night on the play by play, the LCC-Radotin side was fast and aggressive on defence but they lacked any overall size. The Megamen were able to physically impose themselves on their opponents and that was the big difference in the game.
The Megaman won the final 11-5. Although the victory was by such a big margin you had to feel if LCC could have buried the 4 posts they hit, the game would have been a little different. Brandon Dube scored four goals for the Megamen and Scott Komer had a solid game in goal.
Once the game was completed, all the teams gathered on the field for the presentation ceremony. Each team, regardless of placing, received a framed team photo and a plaque signifying their efforts over the past four days. Each of the referees were thanked and honoured for their contributions in the tournament. Then the 19th Ales Hrebesky Memorial winners received their trophy and accolades. The lights were dimmed and then all of us were treated to a 5 minute fireworks display over the LCC-Radotin club house. The night is capped off with a player’s party that gives all the participants one last opportunity to talk about the game they love and their experiences over the past four days.
I started bringing the Dublin Riggers seven years ago and over that time this tournament has gotten better and better every year. Right from the word go with player transport, hotels, scheduling, group selection, organising the volunteers—the list goes on. You truly know that attending this event just once is a memory that will stick with you for your lifetime.
We (the Riggers) hadn’t even finished this year’s tournament and we were already discussing next year. I am sure that’s not an isolated thing, as well. I would imagine the Salt Shakerz are already thinking up ways to top their pimping attire for next year and LCC-Radotin will be looking at how to get their hands back on the championship next year.
Don’t think I was exaggerating when I said earlier that this tournament should be on every lacrosse player’s bucket list. I (like many others) am already thinking about next year’s Aleš Hrebeský Memorial (20th) and I hope to see you all there as well.
A special thanks to the organisers and volunteers of the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial as they truly deserve it. I don’t think anyone went home from this year’s tournament without a smile on their face. One final congratulations to the Boston Megamen, this year’s Aleš HrebeskýMemorial winners.
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