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Junior Shamrocks open lacrosse season under new rules

Like point-guards in basketball, defenders in lacrosse better be quick on possession changes in their own end.

Like point-guards in basketball, defenders in lacrosse better be quick on possession changes in their own end. They will have eight seconds now to bring the ball across the centre line as part of a suite of new rules introduced in Canadian box lacrosse. That’s two seconds less than allowed in hoops.

The new rules go into effect today when the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season opens with the Victoria Junior Shamrocks hosting the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs at 4 p.m. at The Q Centre.

The B.C. Junior A circuit is among five leagues that will implement the new regulations this year, including the Senior A Western Lacrosse Association and Ontario Major Series Lacrosse and also the Ontario Junior A League and Rocky Mountain ­Junior A League of Alberta.

There will be wider positioning on centre-floor face-offs, aligning with the hockey blue lines, and overtime will be sudden death. Off-ball slashing and illegal picks will be called more stiffly.

“The new rules were implemented to speed up the game and bring more excitement for our fans and will increase player safety,” said Rod Wood, governor of the Victoria Junior Shamrocks, who sat on the panel that formulated the changes.

A panel was comprised of players, coaches and GMs.

“This aligns us with the rules in the rest of the world, including the [professional] National Lacrosse League,” said Wood, who is also chairman of the board of governors of the B.C. Junior A League. “A lot of exciting things are happening for our sport, including Steve Nash and Wayne Gretzky [both former lacrosse players in Victoria and Brantford, Ont., respectively], bringing the NLL to Las Vegas as owners, and games weekly on TSN in Canada and ESPN in the U.S.,” Wood said.

An exhibition game was held Wednesday at The Q Centre with players from the WLA, NLL and B.C. Junior A League running through a scrimmage under the new rules. Seven referees rotated through the game.

“All these changes will speed up the play of our game and increase scoring, which will boost entertainment for our fans,” WLA commissioner Paul Dal Monte said in a statement.

“In addition, they will provide for consistency for everyone involved in the top levels of box lacrosse across the country.”

It begins for real today for the Baby Rocks when they take on the Baby Adanacs at The Q Centre. The last full season pre-pandemic was in 2019 with the Junior Shamrocks making it to the Minto Cup national Junior A championship tournament for the first time since 2008 and losing in the final to the Orangeville Northmen of Ontario.

The Junior Shamrocks, led by the fabulous Gary and Paul Gait, last lifted the Minto Cup in 1988 and Island teams have won it only three times.

“The Island will do well this year, with both Victoria and Nanaimo [Junior Timbermen], with good possibilities to reach the Minto Cup,” predicted Wood.

The Junior Shamrocks will be backstopped this season by NLL pro-signed goaltender Adam Bland of the Calgary Roughnecks. Patrick Dodds will provide much of the offence for the Junior Shamrocks after a spectacular pro NLL debut for Panther City of Fort Worth, Texas, in which the six-foot-three, 212-pound forward, who is 20 and still a junior, scored 26 goals with 58 assists for 84 points in 17 games.

“[Dodds] sees the floor so well,” said Wood. “It’s not about either all assists or goals. He is such a well-rounded forward. ”

Preceding the Junior Rocks game today, the Tier 1 Shamrocks will host Langley at 1 p.m. at The Q Centre. The B.C. Junior Tier 1 League is the feeder league to the B.C. Junior A League.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com