Tuesday, January 31, 2017
STACKHOUSE'S SOAPBOX: FEEL THE RUSH
The Saskatchewan Rush are a fun team to get behind.
I took in my first game on Friday night and I left having witnessed a 16-12 win over the Vancouver Stealth. I’m no expert, so I’m not about to suggest which player could have been better or had an off night, etc; but I will say the NLL has some potential to win me over as more than just a casual ‘Rush fan’. I’m contemplating ponying up the $40 to watch all league games online.
Here’s what I liked about my lacrosse experience: it’s fast, a game geared around offense and you see lots of it. Creativity isn’t lacking. A number of goals were of the highlight reel variety. I also felt, having seen the scores and not really watched a game before, that I may actually get tired of all the scoring and it be, somewhat, anti-climatic after a while. It wasn’t.
It’s rough. Goaltenders can be hit when they start to wander. While there were no fights, there was a scent of it in the atmosphere that something could break at any moment. And, some of the things I’m used to seeing in hockey that are penalties are not penalties in lacrosse and that suits me just fine.
The stoppages are quick too. I deplore video challenges, but the two that occurred in this game were over in under a minute. If the ball leaves play, another one is dropped instantly and play goes on. No face-off, no posturing by the linesman, and no purposeful delaying by either team to catch a breather. I think there were two television timeouts during each period (or quarter, I’m not sure what they are even called) and you could see on the scoreboard how much time was remaining in the breaks before it was game on again. There was, essentially, that same two minute break in between the first and second and then again between the third and fourth. Halftime was 18 minutes. Perfect.
I am no expert, but I have to think that those who make the rules in hockey could watch a few lacrosse games and come up with ways to implement a variation of what they see in lacrosse to hockey.
At the start of the game, the PA announcer trashed the Stealth when they were introduced by saying it was the worst real estate market in Canada. I loved it. Then, when someone went to the penalty box, it was time to ‘cool off’. That was sponsored, naturally, by an air conditioning company.
There is a shot clock, which I’m not saying hockey needs necessarily, but am I the only one who has noticed the 3 on 3 overtime has become a five minute mini game of keep-away? Maybe we need an overtime shot clock in hockey.
All line changes are on the fly. I know hockey has contemplated something like this and I, for one, would be interested in seeing if it makes a difference with regards to flow, offensive chances, and overall speed of the game as far as playing it a few minutes faster than the present model. There was also a session afterwards where youngsters could go on the field and meet the players for autographs. Being engaged with your fan base never hurts.
I’ve seen comments on social media from a number of Regina people (mainly Roughrider fans) who mock the Rush and refuse to get behind it. You are cheating yourself. The Rush are in their second year of existence and have a league championship already.
I think we all know where that compares if you want to compare success of the Rush vs success of the Roughriders. I don’t live in Regina, so maybe it’s just a Saskatoon thing. Since it’s Saskatoon, you don’t like it. Petty. Childish.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
The other thing I think we need to understand is that when it comes to lacrosse, you won’t see better. These are the best players in North America and the Rush are a top team. The CFL really isn’t the best football we can see. I know we love to pretend it’s on par with the NFL and just different; but there are no Aaron Rodgers or Tom Bradys or Ben Roethlisbergers or Odell Beckhams or JJ Watts in the CFL. That is not to disparage the CFL. I have, often, felt that Canadian football fans have the best of both worlds because they can watch both, while Americans don’t really know the CFL the way we know the NFL.
Don’t take my word for it. Go watch for yourself and if you don’t enjoy the game, atmosphere, and overall rock show; then that is your prerogative. But, I think if you are honest with yourself you will discover there just may be room in your life for a new sports team to cheer for.
*Mike Stackhouse is a Yorkton-based freelance reporter and contributor to RodPedersen.com.