Last Saturday afternoon and evening the unimaginable happened for many Green Gaels lacrosse fans. The Calgary Moutaineers captured the 2009 Founders Cup, defeating the Ontario Champion Green Gaels 8-4, in a one game final for the prize.
What has happened ever since has been nothing short of awe inspiring. From cries of near corruption from some Ontarians, to statements of league dominance by one Albertan, lacrosse crazed fans have been battering the OLA Fan forum with messages, many of them slamming the other Province.
Being a lacrosse junkie first, and then the proud Ontarian like I am, it has made me look at it all and think that it is great. It is great that lacrosse has “finally” made some news. It has “finally” had some notice, and lastly, it has “finally” got people talking about the best game (in my opinion) that was ever created. It has been a little controversial, but as (more than) one famous celebrity will attest, no media coverage is bad.
I was not at the games, but I have had a pretty good account of all that happened in that final match between Calgary and the Gaels. I even spoke to Gaels Assistant Head Coach Paul Stewart. Stewie first and foremost congratulated Calgary stating that they were a good team, and played a great final game. And in picking his brain, he counted six goals that were either in the net, or the Gaels believed were in the net, that were ultimately called no goal. In trudging through the banter on the forum, my best guess is two of these six, were on the outside or back of the net, so they clearly can be distinguished as no goal.
So that leaves four more. These were the four that have Ontario or Gaels fans questioning and Alberta fans denying. I was not there so I cannot say who is right and who is wrong. But I guess I can make two statements on this:
First, it would take the wind out of any teams sail to have 4 goals called back, for whatever reason, legitimate or not. For that as a player, Coach, or fan, I would be irate too. From what Stewie stated to me, and what I read on the Forum the goals were either stick violation calls, or for running through the crease after a shot was taken on the net. Both of these are not a violation here in Ontario. But that might not be the same in Alberta.
At the same time, someone once told me a long time ago, teams need to adapt to the officiating in every game they play. Whether they deem it good, bad or indifferent, no two referees in lacrosse are exactly the same. I did not like to hear it, but I ultimately understood it and now see the point. If you consider a referee bad, they are not going to get good (at least in your eyes) in 3 periods, so you better be the one to change. So using that argument, the Gaels needed to adapt. Reading and hearing what I have read and heard, I believe they did somewhat ultimately adapt, but it was not enough.
I think what many people are missing here is that in Ontario and Alberta, and throw in any other Provinces, lacrosse calls can be made differently and rule interpretations will vary. I know this as fact as I have been to Alberta at the minor level and it was different. It does not mean that one is right and one is wrong. It means that one must adapt to the change. And as proud an Ontarian as I am, we must realize that we make all of the other Provinces adapt when they come here to the Festival, or for other Championships, so we need to start doing the same when we are outside of our Province.
There was also great debate on the 19 year old referee being in the final game and should he have been, the Gaels picked him, etc. I guess a couple of points I would make to all of that.
First, kudos to the young man, for doing his best, and getting out there officiating players that in some cases were two years older than he is. Everything I have read, including some links to stories about him, indicate he is a rising star in the officiating field out in Alberta.
However, I have also read that the officiating was I guess less than stellar, so if the teams, including the Gaels, evaluate him higher than others, it does not necessarily mean that they were enamoured with him, it simply means that he was considered stronger than others that were there. Does it mean he was ready to handle a Founders Cup final game? No, not at all, but he must have been one of the best available out there. And I hope the young man sticks with it, because to be put into a game like this, someone somewhere must like what they see in him.
The only other issue of hot debate was the groupings and schedule or format. It is what it is, but I guess the one thing that really bothered me with this was seeing how often organizers were quoted as saying that the CLA approved it. That is simply pasing the buck and it is not accpetable. It had to be drawn up by someone, and that someone was not the CLA. Take ownership for what was created and submitted. I have read very loud and clear that this is not the first time it has happened (yes Ontario teams have done it too). But take ownership. If I am certain of only one thing in all of this, it is that the CLA will no more be rubber stamping the divisions and schedules.
Lastly, there is so much hearsay and so much banter back and forth, I will only state some facts. And here are the facts.
- Calgary Mountaineers are the 2009 Founders Cup Champs. They made adjustments from their first meeting with the Gaels and played a different game in the final. I send my congratulation to their entire organization.
- The Gaels had a great tournament, a great season, and should also be applauded. I applaud them.
- Alberta is always improving, but by no means are they yet a dominant lacrosse force across Canada. Is it changing? Yes absolutely, but one knockout punch (and a nice one) does not make you a dynasty just yet. Stay tuned.
- The Founders Cup is an Invitational Tournament that Provincial Champions also attend (fact). This should change (opinion).
And my most important fact: This has people talking all across the Country about lacrosse. A lot of it is negative, sure, but it is giving our game attention. If we can tweak some of the negativity and turn it into a positive, boy oh boy, could this game prosper!
As always, your cmments are welcomed (but please do not attack each other).
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