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Mann Cup champs coming to Kingston
Posted: February 11th, 2013 @ 3:21pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Al Orth sees himself as a lucky man.
"Standing back, I feel very fortunate that I'm in a position to be a part of this," said Orth on the news that Major Series Lacrosse agreed to have one of its regular-season games played in Kingston this summer.
"I think it will be a lot of fun and I think it's going to create a tremendous amount of excitement around the game. I feel really good about being able to do that. Nothing happens in the game of lacrosse without a solid minor system and I'd like to see what I can do to help Kingston build its system."
The game, between the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks and the defending national champion Peterborough Lakers, will be played at the K-Rock Centre June 8. The first regularly scheduled senior lacrosse game to be played in Kingston in at least 50 years, the First Capital Cup will be the marquee event of the weekend where the Kingston Lacrosse Association will host its 40-team Limestone City Invitational youth tournament at arenas throughout the city.
Orth said the First Capital Cup had its genesis in a trip last September to a Mann Cup game in Peterborough.
Nicole Fowler, a long-time minor lacrosse executive in the KLA and Orth's executive assistant in the human resources department at Queen's University, was musing about what a boon it would be to lacrosse in Kingston if two teams from the National Lacrosse League could be convinced to play an exhibition game here.
"That's not something I could influence," said Orth, who, when he's not associate vice-principal of human resources at Queen's, is president and majority owner of the Kodiaks, "but it got me thinking about my own team and whether we could shift one of our home games to Kingston.
"It really was a what-if (proposition) and then we started getting serious about it."
That led Orth to conversations with Jim Brady, commissioner of Major Series Lacrosse, the elite league in eastern Canada, and Ted Higgins, president of the Peterborough club, "the premier franchise in the country, quite frankly," Orth said.
Getting the Lakers to come to Kingston would indeed be a coup, since Peterborough has won the Mann Cup five of the last eight years.
Turns out the concept was not a tough sell.
"Not at all," Orth said. "They were both enthused about it.
"Ted Higgins is one of the strongest promoters of the sport at all levels that you'll ever find. He's been the heart and soul of the Peterborough Lakers for as long as I remember."
Eventually, the Kingston group got the OLA sanction to bring its minor tournament back after a one-year hiatus and the Saturday night of the tournament weekend was identified as the ideal time to play the First Capital Cup game.
"Make it a lacrosse weekend," Orth said. "The tournament is the key to this. We could still do a game but this anchors it nicely."
Fowler, who was involved in organizing the Limestone City Invitational for its first three years and is chairing the First Capital Cup organizing committee, said it was necessary to add an "extra layer" to enhance the youth tournament.
"It's a great opportunity for teams to come together and bond," she said, "but now - they'll get to be up close and personal with the pro players and get to see really good lacrosse played in a fabulous building. It will just add to their weekend experience."
Those unfamiliar with senior lacrosse in Canada may be surprised to learn that the majority of the players who play in the professional National Lacrosse League in the winter return to their major teams in Ontario and B.C. during the summer.
Orth, who has more than a dozen of his Kodiaks currently playing in the NLL, says probably 95 per cent of the players in June's Capital Cup game will have played in the pro league this year.
"The Toronto Rock's defensive coach is our head coach (in Kitchener)," Orth said. "The Buffalo general manager is our GM. Peterborough is pretty much an all-pro team."
Having a game of this calibre attached to a tournament for C and D class youth teams is a unique opportunity, Orth said. "Minor players who are in small centres would rarely get a chance to see this calibre of lacrosse."
Giving up a home date, Orth said, "is a little bit of a leap of faith," but he's confident the game will be a success.
"Given the kind of responses we've seen so far from KEDCO and the K-Rock Centre, the fact that this is a singular event, and it's never happened before, I'm quite confident that I'll be able to recoup my costs," he said.
"I have such a passion and commitment for the game I really just see it as a great opportunity."
The Kodiaks began life as a senior B team in the fall of 2002 and they proceeded to win two of the next three President's Cup national championships. In 2006, the club, which had been affiliated with the St. Catharines Athletics, bought its former Major Series parent and moved it to Kitchener-Waterloo.
Having helped to grow the game in his hometown, Orth would like to do the same in Kingston.
"One of our objectives is supporting grassroots organizations like the KLA and junior C Kings," he said. "By being involved in this event, my hope is they will benefit financially (but also) the kids that will come to watch this game will want to get involved and hopefully boost the registration at the local level and boost the interest in their very own Kingston team, the Kings."
What: First Capital Cup
Who: Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks vs. Peterborough Lakers in a regular-season Major Series Lacrosse game
Logistics: Saturday, June 8, 7 p.m. at the K-Rock Centre
Trivia: Mike Dube, new coach of the junior C Kingston Kings, played in the Major Series with the Kodiaks
OLA discounted tickets (available to registered players and their parents in the Ontario Lacrosse Association, KLA and Kings organizations until April 30): Adults $13, seniors and students $11, children under 12 $7, children under 5 free when accompanied by an adult
Tickets (May 1 and afterwards): Adults $15, seniors and students $13, children under 12 $7, children under 5 free when accompanied by an adult
Available: At the K-Rock Centre box office or online at www.k-rockcentre.com on Thursday, Feb. 14 for subscribers, on Friday, Feb. 15 for the general public
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