It’s hardly definitive, but the immediate impression to be drawn from the results of the Upstate Bears Invitational: as expected, it appears that CLax has the best lacrosse talent outside of the National Lacrosse League. The tournament was a gathering of the host Bears, an Irving, NY-based team that has signed up to play in MILA next fall after dominating teams from the Midwest Association this year; the Syracuse Stingers, who combine players from the Syracuse and Rochester areas and played some exhibition games against Professional Lacrosse League teams this year; and CLax’s Niagara Lock Monsters, who last year were the last-place Peel Avengers in the Canadian Lacrosse League.
The Lock Monsters, starting preparations for the 2013 CLax season to start in January, actually split their training camp roster in half and entered two teams in the Invitational so Coach/GM Jeff Dowling and Co-Coach Jeremy Tallevi could get a good look at all their players. Judging by the results, they could have a hard time cutting the squad down. The Lock Monsters won all four of their games, with both their Black and White squads beating both the Bears and Stingers. The Bears then downed Syracuse 12-9 in the final game of the day between the two American clubs.
Niagara 1 dumped the Bears 14-6 in the tournament’s opening game. Brad Favero, Cory Fowler, Steve McIlwrath and Andrew Tober each scored twice with Tober adding three assists. Kim Squire had four helpers to aid the Lock Monsters cause. Grant Crawley and Cameron Watts split time in net, each giving up three goals. Elijah Printup was the main man for Upstate, scoring three times.
The same Niagara club downed the Stingers in a closer game in which they matched their earlier scoring total, downing Syracuse 14-10. Fowler had a hat trick while Garrett Ball and Jordan Weedmark each scored twice. Tober chipped in a goal and four assists and Squire ran his total assists for the day to eight with another four-helping outing. Watts again gave up just three goals while the Stingers got to Crawley for seven. DeWayne Porter ripped it up for Syracuse, scoring five times and adding an assist. Neal Powless had two goals and an assist for the Stingers.
The Lock Monsters second team had much closer games with both teams. Niagara edged Syracuse 10-9 behind four goals from Bryan Neufeld and a pair from Mark Debrone. Chris Janese had three assists and Brent Murphy a pair for the Monsters. Zach Bowen and Connor Danko were the Niagara goalies and they allowed six and three goals, respectively. Wade Bucktooth and Dave Kemp each scored twice and added three assists for Syracuse. Porter was held to one and one while Powless had a goal and two assists.
The Lock Monsters 2 finished out Clax’s successful day with a 9-7 win over the Bears. Neufeld and Janese each scored twice; Neufeld had three assists as well. Bowen gave up just one goal while Danko surrendered six. Pete Rivera scored twice and added four assists for Upstate and Gehnew Printup added a pair of markers for the Bears.
Scorers are unavailable for Upstate’s 12-9 win over Syracuse in the day’s final game. The two Niagara teams got together the next morning to play one quarter for bragging rights as tournament champs. Team 1 edged Team 2 4-3. Dan Williams had two goals to lead Team 1. Quinn Stewart and Weedmark had singles. Crawley gave up on goal in five minutes of play and Watts allowed two in 10 minutes. Team 2 received goals from Andrew Potter and Brent Murphy. Bowen surrendered three goals in his 10 minutes of action while let in just one in his five minutes.
It’s possible the American teams could get a chance for revenge when the games really count in the future. Both Upstate and Syracuse are in the process of looking for home leagues for their teams and CLax is a potential destination for each. The Bears have signed up to play in MILA in 2013. Based on the results of some games they played against MILA teams this year, the team would likely not face much competition in the league, which primarily comprises American field lacrosse players keeping their sticks active after the field season.
CLax would certainly provide much stiffer competition for the Bears. It’s even possible they could play in both leagues, since MILA runs August-October and CLax’s season goes from January to April. The Canadian League’s commissioner, Paul St. John, told IL Indoor that he is open to the idea of having an American division in CLax and would welcome discussion with the teams about joining for 2014.
Note: ILGear.com ran some photos of the purple turf that was used at the event. Check it out here.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rate This Story: