Rebel lacrosse is coming soon

By Jay Westman
Canada’s other national sport will rock the Corel Centre this winter for the first time as slapshots and ice skates give way to lacrosse sticks and running shoes.

Ottawa’s National Lacrosse League franchise, the Rebel, will play its first home game against the Toronto Rock at the Corel Centre Jan. 5.

Area lacrosse fans are excitedly awaiting their first chance to watch this fast-paced sport when Ottawa competes with other NLL teams from across the U.S. and Canada.

“We did start out with more than a half-dozen local guys,” Ted Montour, public relations spokesman for the Rebel says. “We won’t be finalizing the roster until Dec. 11. We’re planning on having an open (to the public) practice on Dec. 20 at the Corel Centre.”

Brad Clayton is a Carleton University Lacrosse player and Centretown resident who missed trying out for the new franchise.

“It was an interesting situation. A lot of us got a chance to go out and (try out), but every weekend that we were playing, it was one of their tryouts,” he says.

Although some of the Carleton Ravens missed the Rebel’s tryouts in Kingston, they’re looking forward to having the team in Ottawa.

“Some of us actually got the call to come out, but obviously we couldn’t, but I can’t wait to go out and actually watch them.”

Carleton lacrosse player and area resident Sean Scott says they will support the Rebel.

“As a team, we’re going to go together to every game. You have to show support, the sport is flourishing, (and) it’s been here for years, you just have to up the profile.”

Al Smith spends his Saturday afternoons under the new Lansdowne Park dome, tossing around a lacrosse ball in a men’s old-timers’ league, and says the Rebel will be embraced by Ottawa sports fans.

“I think there’s going to be a good response,” says Smith, who plays in the senior league, and is the coordinator of the Ottawa Field Lacrosse League and the area director for the Ontario Lacrosse Association.

“Some people who have watched it on TV come to me and say ‘It’s so rough,’ but I say really, think about it, big strong guys and their sticks — you get a little aluminum handle with a plastic head — it’s not like hockey where you get a big piece of lumber and the guys are just wailing away on each other’s arms.”

With the increased interest and growing number of fans, it may just be a matter of time before Ottawa sees even more of its local sports talent playing Canada’s other national sport.