For a guy who makes his mark in lacrosse by making offensive players uncomfortable, Colin Boucher puts a lot of emphasis on being comfortable to be able to play his best. Boucher was recently signed to a two-year contract by the Buffalo Bandits. The signing may have come from out of left field for a lot of lacrosse fans who aren’t familiar with the 6′5”, 235-pound defender, but expect him to be an impact player right out of the gate for the Buffalo club, largely because of that c-word.
“It was comfortable,” Boucher says when asked why he chose to sign with the Bandits when pretty much every team in the National Lacrosse League was keen to add him to their lineup. “I already knew [Bandits defensive coordinator] Richie [Kilgour] from coaching in the summer. I already knew some of the guys from playing with them in St. Catharines and Six Nations. It was a comfortable choice and an easy transition that way, because I know some of the guys and I already know the defensive style so hopefully that can translate over into the winter.”
Comfort was one of the reasons you may not have heard of Boucher. After playing for the Orillia Rama Kings for most of his Ontario Junior A career, he was kind of tired of travelling to play. So he got together with some hometown friends and helped to start up a Huntsville team in the Ontario Senior B league. That allowed him to play at home with guys he already knew and was comfortable playing with.
When he was drafted to play with the Durham Turfdogs in the inaugural Canadian Lacrosse League season of 2012, it meant some more travelling, but he quickly adjusted to the league and found it provided benefits to his career. “I really noticed that the big thing was playing through the winter. It kept your stick good, it kept you in shape and it kept your lacrosse senses up,” he says. “Instead of basically taking the winter off, playing hockey or something else to keep you in athletic shape, you actually get to keep playing lacrosse. A lot of the guys in CLax I’d already played with and against in Senior B, so it transferred over pretty easily to play in CLax because you already knew the guys a bit.”
It obviously worked out pretty well, because Boucher was named the league’s top defender. Even so, with Barrie launching a CLax team in 2013, he wound up with the team closer to his home town, where he continued to lose a lot of games, as Huntsville had in Sr B and Orillia had in Jr A. The Blizzard went 3-11 to finish last in Clax, although they showed some signs of growing more competitive down the stretch.
With Huntsville folding, Boucher was looking for a place to play in the summer of 2013. “I wasn’t ready to retire from lacrosse so the only option was travelling again. I guess I picked some pretty good teams to go with,” he says in a classic case of understatement. Boucher was coveted by every team in Senior B and eventually decided to sign with the St. Catharines Saints.
Since he wanted to take a shot at the NLL, he figured the Saints would be a good stepping stone. “Once I decided to go with St. Catharines this summer, I knew they were the superior team so I knew that we were going to, with everything going right, make it to the Presidents Cup and I figured that was going to be my biggest foot in the door right there.”
What he hadn’t thought about was playing in Major Series Lacrosse as well. But teams came calling and it made sense for him to suit up with the Six Nations Chiefs: St. Catharines and Ohsweken (where the Chiefs play) aren’t too far apart, plus he was comfortable with the situation because he’d be playing with some mutual teammates on both teams.
If you’ve followed Canadian summer lacrosse this year, you know how well that all worked out for him. Boucher helped the Saints to a Presidents Cup championship then played a big role for the Chiefs as they went to Victoria and returned with the Mann Cup. “It was overwhelming,” Boucher says. “It was so busy that I couldn’t actually sit and take it in.
“After winning the Presidents Cup, I had two days to relax, hang out with my girlfriend, hang out with some friends, and then fly out to Vancouver. So there was no time really to sit and let hit hit me until after the Mann Cup was done. Once I was up relaxing, camping with a bunch friends, that’s when I actually got to sit and think about how amazing it was and how much of a historic summer to play 55 games and have two winning seasons.”
Now Boucher will be a big part of the retooling that the Bandits hope will help them get back to their championship ways. Again, an important part of joining the Bandits is comfort. Besides continuing to be coached by Kilgour, Boucher will get to play with summer teammates like Rory Smith, Billy Dee Smith, David Brock and Steve Priolo.
Kilgour has told him to just go in and play his game, which is tenacious and athletic defence. Boucher, who moves well for such a big man and likes to get out and pressure ball carriers, says he will need to be aware of the pace of the game and adapt his game to it. “I just have to learn when to charge a player and when to relax,” he says. “There were a couple of times I got myself caught in major because I didn’t expect guys to have an extra step on me. So my foot speed is something I’m going to have to work on and my knowledge of when to chase and when to sit back and let them come in.”
When he gets it all sorted out and becomes, yes, comfortable, in the NLL, you can bet he’ll earn plenty of fans in Buffalo, where the Bandits faithful love a rough and tumble game. Boucher turned heads in the summer when he knocked some very sturdy players right to the ground with solid, clean cross-checks. Once he gets settled in, expect him to be doing the same in Buffalo.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.
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